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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Day 7: September 19, 2009, Luke 6.12 – 49

Day 7: September 19, 2009, Luke 6.12 – 49

My commentary will follow the text below.

Luke 6.12-49

Jesus Chooses the Twelve Apostles

Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
Jesus Teaches and Heals

He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.

Blessings and Woes

Then he looked up at his disciples and said:

‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

‘Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.

‘Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

‘Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.

‘But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

‘Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.

‘Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.

‘Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

Love for Enemies

‘But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Judging Others

‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.’
He also told them a parable: ‘Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbour, “Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye”, when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye.
A Tree and Its Fruit
‘No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.

The Two Foundations
‘Why do you call me “Lord, Lord”, and do not do what I tell you? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.’
Commentary: Notice once again that it is only after prayer that Jesus chooses the 12 apostles. Jesus had many followers (Disciples) but he chose these 12 for a specific function and closeness. I wonder how arrogant it must seem for me to make so many decisions without conscious prayer!
This reading is what scholars call Luke’s Sermon on the Plain. It is very similar to Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount—but shorter. What does it mean that the ones to whom we usually think are unfortunate, become the very ones that Jesus says are blessed? Can it be that those who we often reject are the ones through who God will be at work? Is Jesus trying to question our whole understanding of just what ‘blessed’ means? Are the poor, hungry and despised blessed because they more than the rest of us know what it means to rely on God?
The rest of the sermon really needs no commentary. Don’t judge—you won’t be judged! Forgive—you’ll be forgiven! Don’t condemn—you won’t be condemned! Give—and it will be given to you. These words are so simple, so precise, and yet so hard to accomplish. I don’t think Jesus is condoning all behavior here, but he’s warning us about the dangers of trying to figure out whose in and who’s out! Remember Levi, remember the leper, remember how Christ can make one clean!
Finally a pretty funny joke: Imagine a person with a telephone pole sticking out of their eye socket, trying to take a speck of dirt out of someone else’s eye! Notice Jesus doesn’t say we can’t admonish and mentor, he just wants to make sure that we take care of our own spiritual house first!

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