Luke – Chapter 6

Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain fields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels.Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” – Luke 6:1-2

The Pharisees were looking for every opportunity to negate the validity of Jesus as being the Messiah. In this particular incident, they took on the issue of Sabbath which is part of the ten commandments. The Pharisees took all the rules to the extreme while forgetting the very reason for which God created Sabbath in the first place.

The laws allowed for those in need to gather the grains on the ground, which was exactly what the disciples were doing but it happened to be on a Sabbath. Moreover, Sabbath could have been the only day when the farms would have been empty and the poor could roam freely to pick up the grains left behind. Jesus reminded them how David broke the law when he ate the sacred bread out of sheer hunger. The Pharisees regarded King David in such high esteem that they would rather criticize Jesus.

Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” – Luke 6:5

Pharisees were following Jesus in anticipation of Him breaking the law by healing on the Sabbath. The hypocrites did not realize that in following Jesus, they themselves were not following Sabbath. Jesus gave the Pharisees ample opportunities to refute his teachings. Even before healing the man with the shriveled hand on Sabbath, he looked at them expecting a response from them but they did not reply.

Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. – Luke 6:9-10

Sermon on the Plain

The Sermon on the Plain dealt with the same issues as the infamous sermon, that Matthew wrote about. Human tendency is to always praise the rich and successful as being blessed by God and the poor and oppressed as being sinful in the eyes of God but Jesus tuned this convention around and called the poor blessed and the rich as woeful.

Each line of this sermon signifies the problems in this world. Those who are poor, hungry, weeping, rejected and insulted for Christ’s sake have cause for Joy. Their reward is great in Heaven but woe to those who are rich, well fed and in the good books of the world. A stark contrast from what we believe to be the norm that if you do good things God will bless you and if you do evil, God will repay the same. That’s Karma and has nothing to do with Jesus’ purpose for our lives.

A radical message for any time period, whether the first century Jews or modern day Christians, all find this message hard to accept and confuse it with Matthew’s Sermon on the mount and interpret these lines as those who are poor in Spirit.

The Radical Message

…love your enemies, do good to them… – Luke 6:35

We are programmed to love those who love us and hate those who hate us. But Jesus wants us to love and even pray for those who mistreat us. Is this possible?

Let’s put this verse in today’s context. If someone backbites about us in the office, smashes our car on the freeway or cheats us in any other way, our first instinct is to seek restitution. That is because our focus is on the riches of the earth and we hate to see that taken away from us unfairly. If our hearts are tuned to what Jesus has planned for us, we will not be bothered by these things.

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. – Luke 6:37

When we judge someone, we forget the very reason for Christ dying on the cross.  He took our judgement upon himself, so that we may not be judged for our sins.

God loves everyone. He makes it rain on the good as well as on the evil. Worldly blessings have no correlation with righteousness. Let’s not judge someone and try to figure out the reason for their suffering.

But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. Luke 6:49

We proclaim that he is king and sing songs to that affect but miserably fail when it comes to doing what we read in verses or sing in our songs. There is no point in going to church and involving in other activities, if we don’t follow what Jesus asks of us in this radical sermon. If this is us, we have built our lives on weak foundation and will surely be knocked down when the storms of life come our way.

 

Discussion Questions

  1. Like the Pharisees, do we also sometimes take the laws to the extreme and forget the purpose of those laws?
  2. Jesus used every opportunity to denounce the rich, so is it a sin to be rich?
  3. In our context, is it possible to love our enemies? What about countries at war with each other?
  4. When we gossip about someone, about whom we know nothing, is that not judging them?

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