|Church School Lesson: Living Justly With Others|
Living Justly with Others
January 12, 2014
Background: Luke 6:17-36; Print: Luke 6:17-31;
Key Verse: Luke 6:27; Devotional: Matthew 18:21-35
17 And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases,
18 as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed.
19 And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.
20 Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said: "Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh.
22 Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man's sake.
23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.
24 But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation.
25 Woe to you who are full, For you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets.
27 "But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.
29 To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.
30 Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.
31 And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.
32 But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back.
35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.
36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
Luke Chapter 6 (Commentary)
Once word of Jesus' healing power spread, crowds gathered just to touch him. For many, he had become a symbol of good fortune, a lucky charm, or a magician. Instead of desiring God's pardon and love, they only wanted physical healing or a chance to see spectacular events. Some people still see God as a cosmic magician and consider prayer as a way to get God to do his tricks. But God is not a magician -- he is the Master. Prayer is not a way for us to control God; it is a way for us to put ourselves under his control.
This may be Luke's account of the sermon that Matthew records in Matthew 5-7, or it may be that Jesus gave similar sermons on several different occasions. Some believe that this was not one sermon, but a composite based on Jesus' customary teachings.
6:20-23 These verses are called the Beatitudes, from the Latin word meaning "blessing." They describe what it means to be Christ's follower; they are standards of conduct; they contrast kingdom values with worldly values, showing what Christ's followers can expect from the world and what God will give them; they contrast fake piety with true humility; and finally, they show how Old Testament expectations are fulfilled in God's kingdom.
Some believe that the hunger about which Jesus spoke is a hunger for righteousness (Matthew 5:6). Others say this is physical hunger. In any case, in a nation where riches were seen as a sign of God's favor, Jesus startled his hearers by pronouncing blessings on the hungry. In doing so, however, he was in line with an ancient tradition. The Old Testament is filled with texts proclaiming God's concern for the poor and needy. See, for example, 1Samuel 2:5; Psalm 146:7; Isaiah 58:6,7; and Jesus' own mother's prayer in Luke 1:53.
If you are trying to find fulfillment only through riches, wealth may be the only reward you will ever get -- and it does not last. We should not seek comfort now at the expense of eternal life.
There were many false prophets in Old Testament times. They were praised by kings and crowds because their predictions -- prosperity and victory in war -- were exactly what the people wanted to hear. But popularity is no guarantee of truth, and human flattery does not bring God's approval. Sadness lies ahead for those who chase after the crowd's praise rather than God's truth.
The Jews despised the Romans because they oppressed God's people, but Jesus told the people to love these enemies. Such words turned many away from Christ. But Jesus wasn't talking about having affection for enemies; he was talking about an act of the will. You can't "fall into" this kind of love -- it takes conscious effort. Loving our enemies means acting in their best interests. We can pray for them, and we can think of ways to help them. Jesus loved the whole world, even though the world was in rebellion against God. Jesus asks us to follow his example by loving our enemies. Grant your enemies the same respect and rights as you desire for yourself.
6:35Love means action. One way to put love to work is to take the initiative in meeting specific needs. This is easy to do with people who love us, people whom we trust; but love means doing this even to those who dislike us or plan to hurt us. The money we give others should be considered a gift, not a high-interest loan that will help us more than them. Give as though you are giving to God.