Luke 6

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A Key Verse

“But I say to you who are willing to hear: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you.”

Luke 6:27

What’s Happening?

In Chapter 6, Jesus stirs up more controversy with the Pharisees, this time over what it means to be obey the Sabbath law.  His ministry and his crowds are growing and he starts delegating leadership by designating 12 men as “apostles,” and gives his best friend a nickname.  And he begins the Sermon on the Plain, the longest discourse of Jesus in the Book of Luke.

This Chapter’s Mini-Message

6:1 Sabbath The Sabbath day, resting from work on the seventh day of the week, was a defining principle of Jewish practice as old as as the Bible itself.  The story of the origin of the Sabbath is included in Genesis as par tof the origin of the world itself, and its importance is reiterated in the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20.

The Pharisees in this chapter take the day of rest of to mean no picking wheat or healing.  Jesus says, “Is it legal on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”  What do you think of Jesus’s question?  How is he rethinking the ancient tradition? 

6 One Sabbath, as Jesus was going through the wheat fields, his disciples were picking the heads of wheat, rubbing them in their hands, and eating them. Some Pharisees said, “Why are you breaking the Sabbath law?”

Jesus replied, “Haven’t you read what David and his companions did when they were hungry? He broke the Law by going into God’s house and eating the bread of the presence, which only the priests can eat. He also gave some of the bread to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The Human One is Lord of the Sabbath.”

On another Sabbath, Jesus entered a synagogue to teach. A man was there whose right hand was withered. The legal experts and the Pharisees were watching him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. They were looking for a reason to bring charges against him.Jesus knew their thoughts, so he said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” He got up and stood there. Jesus said to the legal experts and Pharisees, “Here’s a question for you: Is it legal on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” 10 Looking around at them all, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he did and his hand was made healthy. 11 They were furious and began talking with each other about what to do to Jesus.

Jesus chooses apostles

6:12 disciples & apostles Here we see two distinct categories of Jesus followers emerge: Disciples means followers and includes women and children.  In that sense, all Christians are “disciples.”  Now, in this passage, Jesus establishes a new category “apostles” which means those who are sent.  They do not merely follow Jesus, they represent him and act in his name.

6:14 Peter After all this time Simon has been following Jesus, Jesus gives Simon a nickname, “Peter,” which means “Rock.”  When we think of Jesus as haloed and in heaven, we lose sight of the thirty year old carpenter with a sense of humor who gave his buddies nicknames like “Rock”!

12 During that time, Jesus went out to the mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night long. 13 At daybreak, he called together his disciples. He chose twelve of them whom he called apostles14 Simon, whom he named Peter; his brother Andrew; James; John; Philip; Bartholomew; 15 Matthew; Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus; Simon, who was called a zealot; 16 Judas the son of James; and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Jesus’ popularity increases

6:17 large area of level ground Based on where Jesus gives this sermon, it is called the “Sermon on the Plain.”  Nearly everything in it is also in Matthew as “the Sermon on the Mount,” leading many scholars to argue they are in fact the same sermon.  Of course, that is possible given that Matthew and Luke probably used the same, now lost source, called the Q source, for their writing.  It is also possible that in three years of ministry, Jesus had some recurring themes he preached more than once.

17 Jesus came down from the mountain with them and stood on a large area of level ground. A great company of his disciples and a huge crowd of people from all around Judea and Jerusalem and the area around Tyre and Sidon joined him there. 18 They came to hear him and to be healed from their diseases, and those bothered by unclean spirits were healed.19 The whole crowd wanted to touch him, because power was going out from him and he was healing everyone.

Happy people and doomed people

20 Jesus raised his eyes to his disciples and said:

Finding Our Blessings

Contemporary Christian singer Laura Story, “The Blessings”

“Tubwayhun,” The Beatitudes in Aramaic, the Language Jesus Spoke

6:20 happy (“Blessed” in many other Bible translations) Jesus turns around human expectations of what it means to be happy or blessed! This list of unexpected times to consider yourself happy or blessed is often called “The Beatitudes

“Happy are you who are poor,
because God’s kingdom is yours.
21 Happy are you who hunger now,
because you will be satisfied.
Happy are you who weep now,
because you will laugh.

22 Happy are you when people hate you, reject you, insult you, and condemn your name as evil because of the Human One. 23 Rejoice when that happens! Leap for joy because you have a great reward in heaven. Their ancestors did the same things to the prophets.

24 But how terrible for you who are rich,
because you have already received your comfort.
25 How terrible for you who have plenty now,
because you will be hungry.
How terrible for you who laugh now,
because you will mourn and weep.
26 How terrible for you when all speak well of you.
Their ancestors did the same things to the false prophets.

Behaving as God’s children

27 “But I say to you who are willing to hear: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on the cheek, offer the other one as well. If someone takes your coat, don’t withhold your shirt either. 30 Give to everyone who asks and don’t demand your things back from those who take them. 31 Treat people in the same way that you want them to treat you.

32 “If you love those who love you, why should you be commended? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, why should you be commended? Even sinners do that. 34 If you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, why should you be commended? Even sinners lend to sinners expecting to be paid back in full.35 Instead, love your enemies, do good, and lend expecting nothing in return. If you do, you will have a great reward. You will be acting the way children of the Most High act, for he is kind to ungrateful and wicked people. 36 Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate.

6:37 Don’t judge In the middle of a sermon full of challenging expectations about our behavior, Jesus issues one of the toughest: Don’t judge.  His sermon is not an invitation to use his teachings to judge how others are doing, it is an invitation to improve ourselves.

37 Don’t judge, and you won’t be judged. Don’t condemn, and you won’t be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38  Give, and it will be given to you. A good portion—packed down, firmly shaken, and overflowing—will fall into your lap. The portion you give will determine the portion you receive in return.”

Avoiding self-deception

6:39 log in your own eye Jesus uses humor and exaggeration in his teaching.  Judging others is like telling a brother or sister to get the little speck of sawdust out of their eye, while we have a log.  Picture someone with a log in their eye, a log going through their head.  Is that ridiculous?  Funny?  Jesus meant it to be, and wants us to know that’s how we look when judge other people’s imperfections.

39 Jesus also told them a riddle. “A blind person can’t lead another blind person, right? Won’t they both fall into a ditch? 40  Disciples aren’t greater than their teacher, but whoever is fully prepared will be like their teacher. 41  Why do you see the splinter in your brother’s or sister’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye42  How can you say to your brother or sister, ‘Brother, Sister, let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when you don’t see the log in your own eye? You deceive yourselves! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s or sister’s eye.

43  “A good tree doesn’t produce bad fruit, nor does a bad tree produce good fruit. 44  Each tree is known by its own fruit. People don’t gather figs from thorny plants, nor do they pick grapes from prickly bushes. 45  A good person produces good from the good treasury of the inner self, while an evil person produces evil from the evil treasury of the inner self. The inner self overflows with words that are spoken.

46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and don’t do what I say? 47  I’ll show what it’s like when someone comes to me, hears my words, and puts them into practice. 48  It’s like a person building a house by digging deep and laying the foundation on bedrock. When the flood came, the rising water smashed against that house, but the water couldn’t shake the house because it was well built. 49  But those who don’t put into practice what they hear are like a person who built a house without a foundation. The floodwater smashed against it and it collapsed instantly. It was completely destroyed.”

Things to Think About
  • The Sermon on the Plain includes some very challenging commandments!  Which would stretch you the most to try to obey a bit more pro-actively?
  • Jesus give his friends nicknames and uses humor to teach.  Is this how Jesus sounds to you at church or in sermons?  Does this change how you picture him?
A Prayer

God who loves even those who hate, Help me be a reflection of your love, help me return meanness with kindness, Help me compliment the people who insult me, Help me include the people who exclude me, Amen.

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