Through the Bible in One Year

Day 84

Luke 6:17-38

And then Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place; and there was a large crowd of His disciples, and a great multitude of the people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled by unclean spirits were being cured. And all the people were trying to touch Him, because power was coming from Him and healing them all.

And He raised His eyes toward His disciples and began saying, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when the people hate you, and when they exclude you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice on that day and jump for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For their fathers used to treat the prophets the same way. But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all the people speak well of you; for their fathers used to treat the false prophets the same way.

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who are abusive to you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat people the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil people. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure–pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” (NASB)

In today’s passage we get Luke’s account of Jesus’ longest sermon or message.  The question that you are probably wondering is very simply this: Is today’s passage the same as the Sermon on Mount that we find in Matthew’s Gospel?  And the answer is yes.  Because most likely Jesus spoke from a plateau that was part way down the mountain, so that both Luke’s description and Matthew’s are correct.  And these two accounts are parallel in other respects as well, in other words they cover the same topics and roughly the same order.  Although Luke reduces Matthew’s longer account to the basic core.  And there are five questions that we see answered in today’s passage.

  1. Why turn our value system upside down?

And He raised His eyes toward His disciples and began saying, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when the people hate you, and when they exclude you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man.—Luke 6:20-22 (NASB)

Jesus wanted to dispute the conventional wisdom of that time which said the wealthy and influential enjoyed more of God’s blessings.  Jesus wanted his followers to see that material things are only temporary and certainly not the only reality.  He didn’t want them to think of their current situation as a sign of God’s blessing or judgement.  Instead, he wanted them to see that the poor can be spiritually wealthy, which leads to the second question that we see answered in today’s passage.

  1. Is it wrong to be financially well-off?

But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all the people speak well of you; for their fathers used to treat the false prophets the same way.—Luke 6:24-26 (NASB)

No, but it can be dangerous.  Those who enjoy the “good life” may be more easily tempted to neglect the Godly life.  Also, they may never learn to depend upon God.  In fact, there is a Biblical principle that says that those entrusted with something are hold responsible for it.  The wealthy are to be generous and not take advantage of others, which leads us directly into the third question we find answered in today’s passage.

  1. What’s wrong with standing up for your own rights?

Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat people the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount.—Luke 6:29-34 (NASB)

In the context of today’s passage, Jesus was talking primarily about religious intolerance.  Therefore, when we are persecuted because of righteousness, we should not strike back.  The early believers went peacefully to jail when arrested for preaching about Christ.  At other times they fled in order to avoid persecution.  But we never see armed resistance from the New Testament church.  In fact, when Jesus was arrested, Peter was told to put his sword away.

On the other hand, Christians with convictions about right and wrong will not idly stand by, blind to injustices against others.  Some say prayer alone is a sufficient response to injustice.  Other say a voice of reason should be raised in opposition in order to persuade society to do what is right.  Some go further and suggest that civil protests or civil disobedience are in order.  Still others say that in a fallen world, force (either military or police) my be required to confront evil.  Though those of us who are believers may disagree about the best response, we all agree the some response against injustice is necessary, which leads us into the fourth question that is answered in today’s passage.

  1. How does God show kindness to the ungrateful and the wicked?

But love your enemies and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil people.—Luke 6:35 (NASB)

The creation and environment in which we live shows the signs of God’s universal care—he sends rain, for example, both to those who deserve it and to those who don’t.  The wicked can also enjoy God’s creation, good health and physical sustenance.  On the spiritual level, God extends his grace for salvation to all humankind, none of whom are righteous or free from sin, which leads us directly into the fifth and final question that we see answered in today’s passage.

  1. Is it ever right to judge someone?

Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.—Luke 6:37 (NASB)

The answer to this question could be either yes or no depending upon how we use the word “judge.”  When we use the word “judge” to mean “discern,” it is a good thing.  Discernment protects us whereas judgment attacks others.  By delighting in revealing other’s deficiencies, we fall into the trap Jesus warned against.  Still, we should evaluate the motives, attitudes and behaviors of others.  As Christians we are called to test everything, so that we will not be deceived.

Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:

Deuteronomy 4, Luke 6:39-7:10, Psalm 68:1-18 and Proverbs 11:28

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