Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Luke 6 - Sabbath, Selection, and Sermon

LINK: Luke 6


BACKGROUND

45. The disciples pick wheat on the Sabbath: Matthew 12:1-8, Mark 2:23-38, Luke 6:1-5

According to Deuteronomy 23:25, people were allowed to pick grain from a neighbor's field, orchard, or vineyard as they passed by, but the Pharisees, with their legalistic rabbinic tradition, said that this was the same as reaping, threshing, winnowing, and preparing food which were all forbidden on the Sabbath.  When Jesus' disciples picked grain, this led to their questioning, and Jesus took the Pharisees to the Word of God when "God's anointed" (David) and his men had eaten the loaves of bread in the tabernacle. Jesus was saying He was God's new Anointed One and Lord of the Sabbath with authority over all matters related to the Law. 

For his Jewish audience, Matthew quotes Hosea 6:6 again (Matthew 9:13). According to Warren Wiersbe:
The Sabbath law was given to Israel as a mark of her relationship to God (Exodus 20:9-11; 31:13-17; Nehemiah 9:12-15). But it was also an act of mercy for both man and beast, to give them needed rest each week. Any religious law that is contrary to mercy and the care of nature should be looked on with suspicion. (The Bible Exposition Commentary, Matthew 12:1)
Jesus was getting to the heart of the matter. It is not what we do on the outside that matters but on the inside. 

46. Jesus heals a man's hand on the Sabbath: Matthew 12:9-14, Mark 3:1-6, Luke 6:6-11


Healing on the Sabbath was only allowed if a person's life was in danger. If Jesus did it, the religious leaders could accuse Him. In the Mark account, Jesus looked at the Pharisees in anger (only reference to Jesus' anger in the New Testament) because they would follow their laws versus exhibiting God's mercy toward the suffering. Mark also said that He was "grieved at their hardness of heart." Again, it was all about "compassion rather than sacrifice" (Hosea 6:6), and the religious leaders did not get that. They had already accused Him of blasphemy when He healed the paralytic (Matthew 9:1-8), and associating with sinners when He ate with Matthew's friends (Matthew 9:11-13), but now He had gone too far by violating the Law of God. They responded to this by plotting to kill Him. The Pharisees and Herodians were united because His authority overwhelmed their authority. 

This is the first time the Herodians are mentioned in our narrative.
HERODIANS -- a Jewish political party who sympathized with (Mark 3:612:13; Matt, 22:16Luke 20:20) the Herodian rulers in their general policy of government, and in the social customs which they introduced from Rome. They were at one with the Sadducees in holding the duty of submission to Rome, and of supporting the Herods on the throne. (Comp. Mark 8:15Matt. 16:6.)  
(Easton's Bible Dictionary)
48. Jesus Chooses the Twelves Disciples: Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16


Jesus had many disciples who followed Him (2:15), but He appointed the 12 (corresponding to the 12 tribes of Israel) so that He could train them and send them out to preach and carry on His authority over demons. Training was the major focus of His ministry at this point in time. He knew He would be leaving these 12 men to carry on His work.

The Luke account mentions that Jesus spent all night in prayer before He chose the twelve. See the Reflection for more on this. 

49. Jesus gives the beatitudes: (Matthew 5:1-12; Luke 6:17-26)

When reading this chronologically using all four gospel accounts, Jesus has just chosen His twelve disciples (Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16). After this, Jesus began his training program for them and a "large crowd of His disciples and a great number of people from all over" (Luke 6:17). This is a time of teaching. Matthew 5-7 and the parallel passage in Luke 6:12-49 are most often referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew's account is much longer than Luke's. Matthew's audience was Jewish, so there are many parts that interpret the Law.  Luke's audience was primarily Gentile. So, these parts were omitted. Some commentators see these two passages as two separate events, but we will not. 

The exact location is unknown, but it is believed to be somewhere between Capernaum and Gennesaret near the Sea of Galilee. In Luke, the sermon is said to take place on a level place while the Matthew account says that He went up on a mountainside. The most logical explanation is that He had gone up to pray and chose His disciples and came down to a lower, level place to give the Sermon on the Mount. 


Plato (423-347 BC) in Republic and Aristotle (384-322 BC) in Nichomachean Ethic attempted to answer the question about which life is the "good life."  Jesus came along in the context of the day and answered that question in the Beatitudes.  


What makes a person blessed, which means "favored" or "happy"? Some commentators see this sermon as an ethical code for God's people, a checklist of spiritual attainment. "If I am poor in Spirit (humble), then I will inherit the kingdom of God." Here is what these commentators say about this:

. . . a platform of important principles for the enlightenment and guidance of His kingdom forces. This sermon is not a mere ethical code but its sublime moral principles far surpass all human moral standards. Christ's idea of Righteousness as here set forth, became the kingdom's ideal of Righteousness which has never yet been approximately realized by humanity. In His universal eternal principles in this sermon, Jesus laid the basis for the kingdom work for all time. In one discourse, He superseded all previous standards and set up the new and final religious goal for the human race. He here uttered the final word about character and privilege, conduct and duty, religious ideals, the divine and human relations of men, and the supreme objective and goal in life and how to attain it. 
(The Christ of the Gospels by J.W. Shepard, p. 176)
Others commentators believe that the Beatitudes "cannot be 'good news' if they are understood as a set of 'how-tos' for achieving blessedness." (The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard, p. 106). Rather, they believe it is an announcement by Jesus to the great mass of humanity who was following Him that they did not have to have it all together or be part of the right ethnic group to be in the kingdom of God. Jesus had come to announce blessing to the "spiritual zeros"!
Standing around Jesus as he speaks are people with no spiritual qualifications or abilities at all. You would never call on them when "spiritual work" is to be done. There is nothing about them to suggest that the breath of God might move through their lives. They have no charisma, no religious glitter or clout. 
They "don't know their Bible." They "know not the law," as a later critic of Jesus' work said. They are "mere laypeople," who at best can fill a pew or perhaps an offering plate. No one calls them to lead a service or even to lead in prayer, and they might faint if anyone did. 
They are the first to tell you they "really can't make heads nor tails of religion." They walk by us in the hundreds or thousands every day. They would be the last to say they have any claim whatsoever on God. The pages of the Gospels are cluttered with such people. And yet: "He touched me." The rule of the heavens comes down upon their lives through their contact with Jesus. And then they too are blessed -- healed of body, mind, or spirit -- in the hand of God.
. . . precisely in spite of and in the midst of their ever so deplorable condition, the rule of the heavens has moved redemptively upon and through them by the grace of Christ. . . 
The Beatitudes, in particular, are not teachings on how to be blessed. They are not instructions to do anything. They do not indicate conditions that are especially pleasing to God or good for human beings . . . They are explanations and illustrations, drawn from the immediate setting, of the present availability of the kingdom through personal relationship with Jesus. They single out cases that provide proof that, in him, the rule of God from the heavens truly is available in life circumstances that are beyond all human hope. 
 (The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard, p. 100-102, 106)
This second view seems to be in keeping with His announcement that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand" prior to the beatitudes (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:15).  They are a "clarification or development of his primary theme in this talk, and in his life: the availability of the kingdom of the heavens" (p.99). 
Christ came to found a Kingdom, not a School; to institute a fellowship, not to propound a system. To the first disciples all doctrinal teaching sprang out of fellowship with Him. They saw Him, and therefore believed . . . The seed of truth which fell on their hearts was carried thither from the flower of His Person and Life." (The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah: Volume 1, p. 528-529)
Jesus taught of the blessed life for all the "spiritual zeros" who would enter the kingdom. He continues to answer the "good life" question when he teaches about . . . 
57. Jesus teaches about loving enemies: Matthew 5:43-48 and Luke 6:27-36 versus Leviticus 19:17-18 and Exodus 23:4-5

The law did not allow for hatred of enemies, and Jesus reiterated that. 


63. Jesus teaches about judging others: Matthew 7:1-6, Luke 6:37-42

Jesus builds up what he said about loving our enemies by telling us that we always reap what we sow. If we judge and condemn others, we will be judged and condemned ourselves. When we pardon and give, it will lead to pardon and giving in return.


66. Jesus teaches about the fruit in people's lives: Matthew 7:15-20, Luke 6:43-45

Just as we can identify a tree by the fruit it bears, people will know what kind of person we really are by the fruit that we bear.  The fruit of our mouth will reveal what is in our hearts! 

67. Jesus teaches about building on a solid foundation: Matthew 7:21-29, Luke 6:46-49

Jesus give an illustration of the house built on the rock versus the house build on the sand (Matthew 7:21-29) to illustrate that we must act upon what we believe. We cannot just give lip service to what we believe. We have to act on our beliefs. This is the first parable mentioned in the book of Luke.  See James 1:22-27.


REFLECTION


Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 
(Luke 6:12)


Prayer was a crucial part of Christ's life and ministry. There are over 45 sections of Scripture and 30 different instances where prayer is taught or modeled by Christ.


Christ passed on to His disciples that prayer was crucial for any serious follower of Jesus!  We see in Acts 2:42 that the disciples learned this because it was a cornerstone priority in the early church:


They were continually devoting themselves to the 
apostles' teaching and to fellowship, 
to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 



"The Church has many organizers,
 but few agonizers. 
Many who are willing to pay, 
but few who are willing to pray;
Many resters, 
but few wrestlers
 Many who are enterprising, 
but few who are interceding. 
People who are not praying are playing . . . 
in the matter of effective praying
never have so many, 
left so much, 
to so few . . . 
Brethren, 
let us pray" 
Leonard Ravenhill


Is prayer a priority in your life?


APPLICATION


Do a mini-study on the priority of prayer in Jesus' life and ministry:


Luke 3:21-23
Luke 4:1-13 (fasting and prayer are linked in the New Testament)
Mark 1:35-39
Luke 5:16
Luke 6:12-16
Luke 6:28
Matthew 6:5-18
Matthew 9:35-38
Matthew 14:22-23
Luke 9:18-21
Matthew 17:14-21
Mark 9:14-29
Luke 11:1-13
John 11:40-44
Matthew 19:13-15
Luke 19:45-48
Matthew 24:20
Luke 22:31-38
Luke 22:17-20
John 14:13-14
John 17:1-26
Matthew 26:30-46; 52-53
Mark 15:34
Luke 23:34; 46-47
John 19:30


What Jesus Left Behind: Acts 1:12-14


"The truly GREAT people of the church today are the people who pray.
 It's NOT those who believe in prayer or even those who know how to pray.
 It's those who actually take the time to pray!" 
S.D. Gordon

PRAYER


Lord, teach us to pray! May we not sin against You by ceasing to pray for others (1 Samuel 12:23).  Amen. 
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