Luke: Chapter 6 - Life is Fragile, Handle with Prayer

Bible Study @ Hurst Gospel Hall

Author: John Whitmarsh
Added: 2015-05-26

CHAPTER 6

 

LIFE IS FRAGILE - HANDLE WITH PRAYER

 

Verses 1-11 The Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath

And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands. And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days? And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him; How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone? And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath. And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him. But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth. Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it? 10 And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other. 11 And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.


1-5 Lord also of the Sabbath

 

1. The context of the law of God received by Moses

 

Exodus 20 verses 2 to 17

 

2. I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

 

LAW 1 3. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

 

LAW 2 4. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

5. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

6. And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

 

LAW 3 7. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

 

LAW 4 8. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

9. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

10. But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

11. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

 

LAW 5 12. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

 

LAW 6 13. Thou shalt not kill.

 

LAW 7 14. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

 

LAW 8 15. Thou shalt not steal.

 

LAW 9 16. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

 

LAW 10 17. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbours house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbours wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbours.

 

It is interesting to note two things:-

 

(i)     often people concentrate from around the 4th Law to the 10th Law and overlook at least the first 2 which are all about the one true God having the first place in our lives and

(ii)    whilst the first Law states no other gods before me, the Lord Jesus was actually in the presence of the Pharisees, but they gave Him no place in their hearts or thoughts

 

2. Who or what are the Pharisees?

They were religious purists. Their supreme concern and delight was to keep the law (including its traditions) in every exact detail. Judged by this element they were model Jews. To this end, they kept themselves as far apart as possible from other men; they would not eat with a non Pharisee in case the food had not been tithed. This policy of separation inevitably led to arrogance, this combined with a dry legalism (which put ritual observance before love and mercy) led them intro frequent conflict with the Lord whilst he was on the earth. Definition based in a large part from the Lion Handbook to the Bible.

 

3. A challenge working on the Sabbath

The Lord Jesus and His disciples were passing through some grain fields on the Sabbath, followed by a delegation of Pharisees. Some of the disciples (who were seemingly oblivious to the legalism of the Pharisees) began to strip heads of grain from the field (HARVESTING), rubbed them in their hands to separate the grain from the sheaf (THRESHING), (by implication throwing away the husk WINNOWING) and popped grain into their mouths (FOOD PREPARATION). This, to the Pharisee, was harvesting and threshing grain, something which one could do on any other day, but not on the Sabbath. It amounted to 4 breaches of the Law in one attempt! The challenge was made to the disciples (verse 2) Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the Sabbath days?

 

4. Response to the challenge

There was no denial. There was not an I didnt do it! the Lord could simply have pointed out that He was not guilty of their charge, that their charge to the disciples was misdirected if it was thought that He was included. Furthermore He could have argued matters of interpretation. The Sabbath commandment (LAW 4) is incredibly concise: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8). If it was the issue of food preparation that was in their minds then Gods law allowed food to be prepared on the Sabbath Exodus 12: 16. The Lord Jesus did neither of these things. He claimed the rights of His Lordship. He referred them back to an event in 1 Samuel 21 verses 1 to 6. David was on the run from Saul with other young men, who were all presumably hungry and Ahimelech as the High Priest handed over the shewbread (which was to food for the priests after it had served its purpose in the tabernacle) partly on the basis of need, and partly on the basis of Davids person. In a similar way the Lord seems to indicate that the Law has to administered with compassion, and secondly He declared his Lordship of the Sabbath, but as the Son of Man. (See Law 4 above and let its implications sink in).

Jesus statement indicated who He was, which entitled Him to break the law, The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath (Luke 6:5). The Sabbath was a sign of the old covenant. The prophets treated it as a sign of Israels separation from all other nations unto God and of Gods covenant to them. The Lord Jesus came with a new covenant. Who He was (and is) in Himself entitled Him to superiority over the Sabbath. The Jews asserted that the Sabbath was superior to the Lord but in the next incident He made sure that it was known that good could be done on the Sabbath day and acted contrary to their beliefs. He showed that, if someone had the power to do good, it was far better to do good to one who was sick than to want to destroy the Healer.

 

6-11 The healing of the man with the withered hand

 

Another incident is recorded in verses 6-11 which was, according to the Pharisees, was a transgression by the Lord, who did the work of healing on the Sabbath.

There was a man present as Jesus taught in the synagogue on the Sabbath, who had a withered hand. Dr Luke points out that the hand was the right hand. This in a right handed world would have been a major disability. The scribes and the Pharisees seemed to be aware of this mans presence, and they seemed to be sure that our Lord would heal him. They were waiting for the occasion, so that they could accuse Jesus. They wanted the man healed, but not for his benefit rather for reason to accuse. The man does not call out to the Lord for healing, nor exercise faith as such, but he is obedient to the request of the Lord. The term withered comes from a Greek word for dry. We do not know whether the man caught Jesus eye, or if he pleaded for mercy and healing, or whether he was pointed out to Jesus by the Pharisees or others. We are told that Jesus was aware of the man, as well as of the scheme to accuse Him (verses 6-8)

The Lord knew the hearts and minds of the Pharisees. After speaking to the man with the withered right hand, He spoke to them who had made a challenge, Is it lawful on the Sabbath day to do good or evil, to save life or destroy it? Here was the very heart of the conflict between Jesus and His opponents, the scribes and Pharisees. The issue which Jesus raised was to do with the purpose of the precept. Why was the Sabbath Law given? The Lord also seems to bring out the conflict between mercy and compassion on the one hand and legalism and love of the law itself on the other.

 

The Lord seems to give each listener time for a response but there is none. He seemed to let the question simmer in their minds. After due time the Lord acted. He invited the man to stretch out his hand, and He restored the mans right hand.

 

It is interesting to see the effect on the Pharisees they were filled with madness (or violent rage)

The Lord and the Pharisees locked in a conflict which was irreconcilable so long as they stubbornly resisted the Son of God and persisted in their sins.

 

There is nothing wrong with Gods law when rightly applied and interpreted. A selection from the Psalms will more than make the point:-

Ps 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

Ps 119:61 The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy law.

Ps 119:70 Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law.

Ps 119:77 Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight.

Ps 119:85 The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law.

Ps 119:92 Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction.

Ps 119:97 O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.

 

Conclusion Adherence to a keeping of mans law or a set of beliefs will never bring us to Christ it will only ever bring to deadlock with the person and work of Christ Himself. The man who got it right, was the right handed invalid. He simply responded to the words of the Saviour, and was saved.

 

As an aside Shakespeare himself draws out a very essence of the conflict between law and mercy in the Merchant of Venice.

 

The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed: it blesseth him that gives and him that takes. 'Tis mightiest in the mightiest. It becomes the thrond monarch better than his crown. His sceptre shows the force of temporal power, the attribute to awe and majesty wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings, but mercy is above this sceptered sway. It is enthrond in the hearts of kings. It is an attribute to God himself. And earthly power doth then show likest Gods when mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew, though justice be thy plea, consider this - That in the course of justice none of us should see salvation. We do pray for mercy, and that same prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much to mitigate the justice of thy plea, which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there.

 

Verses 12-19 Praying before important decisions

12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; 14 Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, 15 Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, 16 And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor. 17 And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases; 18 And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed. 19 And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.


Lukes gospel account is full of prayer (1.10, 13; 2.37; 3.21; 5.3, 16, 33; 6.12(2), 28; 9.18, 28, 29; 10.2; 11.1(2), 2; 14.18, 19; 16.27; 18.1, 10, 11; 19.46; 20.47; 21.36; 22.32, 40, 41, 44, 45, 46). Here prayer immediately precedes an important decision. The important decision is the choice of twelve men from among His disciples whom He called apostles. A disciple is one who follows. An apostle is one who is sent on a mission (see the corresponding passage in Mark 3.13-19 where the commission is included (verse 14) even though the praying aspect is omitted). What is precious about verse 12 is that this was the very God of eternity staying up all night in prayer. Here He shows His complete dependence on His God. It was imperative that He sought the Fathers mind on the matter and as such He is the perfect example for all who would be His disciples. If He spent all night in prayer about this one decision then surely we must spend some time in prayer about each and every decision that we make. There is no decision in life that we make about which we can move independently of our God. To do so is to make a fateful mistake. A new car, a new house, a new job, a new area, a wife or husband all these decisions need to be made in the light of Gods word and by telling our God about them. Let the peace of God rule (be umpire that is saying what is in and what is out) in your hearts. Colossians 3.15

 

The twelve who were chosen were a mixed group. The first four (Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John) were Galilean fishermen. Within the group of twelve were three who attended the Saviour on special occasions and they were all fishermen. Andrew appears to have the one left out.

 

Then there was Philip of Bethsaida (John 1.44 Bethsaida was close to the sea of Galilee (Luke 9.10) and was the city of Andrew and Peter) and Bartholomew, and Nathanael (whose story is also to be found in John 1).

 

Then there were Matthew (who we encountered in chapter 5) and Thomas (sometimes, unfortunately, known as Doubting Thomas and, this time accurately, had a surname called Didymus meaning double).

 

There was also a James of Alphaeus and Simon called the Zealot (is it fair to call him a terrorist? He was a Canaanite).

 

There were two men called Judas one was related to James (he could well have been his brother making three sets of brothers in the twelve; elsewhere he is called Thaddeus) and the other was called Iscariot and is infamous for being the one who betrayed the Lord Jesus. Luke is very clear on this matter. He does not say that he became the traitor but that he was the traitor. The Lord Jesus was also clear on the same matter for He said, Have I not chosen you twelve and one of you is a devil? John 6.70.

 

It is remarkable that these twelve were sent out. One of them was a devil but they were all sent out.

 

Verses 17-19 is another section that describes the Saviour descending the mountain and coming to the plain. They came from near and far for to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases. The text does not say that they came to Him seeking salvation or any such thing. His words were powerful and worth hearing. His miracles were undisputed at this stage. Men and women wanted to feel the physical blessing of being in His presence. Their desire to touch was so that virtue, power might flow from Him to them so that ailments could be cured. All were cured of whatever disease they possessed. There was none left out.

 

None outside His loving heart, none outside His healing art

For them all He came to live, for them all His life He gave.

 

Verses 20-38Be attitudes Part 1

20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. 22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. 23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. 24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. 25 Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. 26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. 27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. 29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. 30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. 31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. 32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.


There is a similar though lengthier passage to that found at the end of this chapter in Matthews account. Traditionally Matthew 5-7 is known as the Sermon on the Mount and the initial content as the beatitudes. This is a word that is no longer or little used in the English language and means supreme blessedness or happiness or any of the declarations of blessedness made by the Lord Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. This then refers to any of eight (or nine) distinctive sayings of the Lord Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-11) in which He declared that the poor (in spirit), the meek, those that mourn, the merciful, the peacemakers, the pure of heart, those that thirst for justice, and those that are persecuted will, in various ways, receive the blessings that heaven gives. It has been said many times that the last part of the word is similar to our word attitude and that happiness is largely a state of mind that is programmed by attitude. The sermon in Matthew 5-7 consists of more than the so called beatitudes. Indeed there are 111 verses in that section. That sermon was spoken to disciples and sets out the mandate and principles for the kingdom that is yet to come. Here the language is different in that the personal pronoun that is used throughout the beatitudes is ye as opposed to they in Matthews account. Thus there is a different emphasis in the record that Luke makes in that the disciples are seen as the very ones who are poor, etc. The location of the sermon in Luke 6 is also different in that verse 17 has mentioned that the Lord Jesus was with a large multitude of His disciples (not just the twelve) and a great throng of people from miles away were assembled on the plain (KJV). This was a place that flat, level, even ground (NASB a level place). Consequently this section is often referred to as the Sermon on the plain.

 

Note, too, that the blessings pertain to the kingdom of God rather than the kingdom of heaven as in Matthews account and that their number is only four in Luke 6. We may refer to them as four universal blessings. Blessed describes the state of a person walking in fellowship with God. There are also four corresponding woes present in the space of three verses in v24-26. Matthew does not use the word woe until his eleventh chapter!! Woe here is the opposite of blessedness as opposed to a curse that is called down upon someone. It is the sorry state of those who are so self sufficient that they ignore their need of God.

 

BlessingCorresponding woe

 

1. Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full

 

2. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied Woe to you who are well fed now, for you shall

be hungry

 

3. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep

 

4. Blessed are you when men ostracize you Woe to you when all men speak of you.

 

Notice, too, the frequent use of the word now in those early verses of the section (verses 21and 25). This is significant for the Lord Jesus was teaching against being mere here and now people.

 

The disciples are, therefore, distinguished and set apart as those faithful unto Him and as such their attitude to life, and, consequently, their behaviour, though this is not the immediate subject here, was to reflect this. Their lives were to be lived with eternity in view. They were not to live merely for the here and now. If riches were their only pleasure in life and they thought not to please their God then all their consolation was to be enjoyed in the here and now. They could not take their riches with them into eternity. They brought nothing in and they were, as with us all, not to take anything into eternity. Investment in an earthly bank may have its rewards but investment in the heavenly bank has far greater and more enduring reward. The question is do we really believe this or are we merely here and now people? We need to be in relationship with the Blesser to receive the blessings. Verse 22 makes it clear that it is not so much suffering for righteousness sake but suffering for the Son of mans sake. The disciples are viewed as being in such a relationship and as those who look to Him for blessing rather than seeking their rest and ease in this world. We must ever remember that if we choose to make ourselves happy and comfortable in this world and without regard for the Saviour, then we must never expect His blessing and certainly not His eternal blessing. If we are content to live without God then we must be prepared to die without Him and to face an eternity without Him. Perish the thought that we die without Him.

 

From verse 27 He addressed those who were listening carefully and were willing to obey. There were four things to do and then four generous responses.

 

Four things to do Four generous responses

 

1. Love your enemies Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also

 

2. Do good to those who hate you Whoever takes your coat, do not withhold from him your

shirt either

 

3. Bless those who curse you Give to everyone who askes of you

 

4. Pray for those who mistreat you Whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back

 

In this section we read of the highest ideal of them all love your enemies. All of this is in the light of the kindness of God to the unthankful and the evil (verse 35). In this section is what is referred to as the Golden Rule treat others in the same way as you would like to be treated. As He is (loving (v27), kind, (v35), merciful (v36), non-judgmental (v37), generous (v38)) so are we to be in this world. As He loved us when we were His enemies and we have tasted of that love so we, in turn, are to love the unlovely. We are to love them without, dare we say, falling in love with them. That does not mean to say that we love what they do and say. That does not mean to say that we allow them to ride roughshod over all that we do for our God in the assembly. That does not mean to say that we allow them to undermine and disturb anything and all that is done for God but what it does mean is that we are to love them even though they behave antagonistically towards us. There may be beating. Note that there is no direct mention of persecution in Luke 6. There may be loss of goods. We are still to love. Not merely love where love is received in return. There is no harm in such love but rather there are a multitude of benefits. Such love is easy and has no credit but love here is towards enemies. How tough are the ideals placed upon us by the Saviour. How great an example He has shown. And yet if I want to be in relationship with Him then I am to show in measure the behaviour that He demonstrated in all perfection. It is not merely not hating our enemies but positively loving them. There is lending involved in this section. It is lending to enemies not knowing if we will receive that which has been loaned. We may lend to family, to colleagues even for we expect to receive back though at a cost to ourselves of interest that could have been gained elsewhere. We do that because, especially in the case of the family, we love them. In Luke the lending is to enemies and there is a doubt in the mind as to whether or not that money will ever be returned. Always remember that God is kind to the unthankful and the evil. He has tremendous resources; far more than I will ever have but I am to behave as He behaves if, as I claim, I belong to Him.

 

Judge not that ye be not judged. What did the Lord Jesus mean when He says these words? Surely we all have to make judgments every day of our lives. Decisions have to be made - is this or that right or wrong? Will this line of action or price quoted be good for business? Should I send my child to this school or that one? These are necessary decisions that have to be made in order to have a proper respect for myself and a care for those for whom I have to care. Clearly the verse does not mean that. Not only do decisions have to be made as individuals but sometimes (mercifully not too often) corporate decisions have to be made for the smooth running of a company of people. That happens at work with, at times, the loss of people through redundancy in order to maintain the business. It happens, too, in church life. We can think of decisions that, although uncomfortable, have had to be made in order that the church might run smoothly.

Clearly decisions have to be made. Judgments have to be made or else chaos and confusion reign.

 

Nor does the statement mean that by refusing to pass sentence on another that I will be spared from the judgment of my own sin. There is only one thing that spares me from the judgment of my own sin and that is the blood of Christ. It is not my kindness, my lack of decision-making that spares me from judgment. My avoidance of judgment of sin rests on another's actions and not my own actions. It is not saying that by good behaviour I can undo the wrongs that I have done. It is not saying that by refusing to condemn my fellow man than I can escape the judgment of God. My escape from God's judgments depends upon the blood of Christ and the appropriation of that blood to my soul by faith in the same way as that blood that was shed in Exodus 12 had to be applied by faith to the door posts and lintels in Egypt. To leave the blood in the bowl would have been to perish.

 

Nor does the statement mean that I should not form an opinion about anything. There are many issues about which it is unwise to form an opinion - political issues would be an example, the merits of one football team in preference to others is another. But there are issues where the truth is unclear, or the matter is not black or white but grey and an opinion, though held privately, needs to be formed. Romans 14 puts it this way, Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. In the matter of which days to observe, which meats to eat, the apostle sees the need to have an opinion and to practice that belief. What is unacceptable to the Lord is that dogmatism in these matters that comes in to spoil fellowships. It is when peoples' opinions and deeply held beliefs on matters where more than the one belief is acceptable are forced on others that trouble occurs. If I hold an opinion on these things, then I hold it to myself. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. If it is a matter that is not fundamental to the maintenance of truth, then it is opinion and no longer truth. As such it should be carefully considered in the mind, be fully persuaded to that mind and held in that mind without forcing it on others.

 

What did He mean? The Saviour was saying, 'Don't criticise that ye be not criticised. Don't find fault that ye be not faulted.' It is not so much that God is saying, 'Don't judge in order that I won't judge you' but rather, 'don't judge others in order that in order that they will not judge you.' You see criticism breeds criticism. It's a cancer that grows and destroys lives, companies, churches. When someone suffers from direct criticism one of two things happens. The recipient is either hurt so badly that the hurt is retained for years and years or else that person becomes defensive and tries to justify himself and then a row develops. Both reactions spell trouble. Scolding, scathing, carping criticism is destructive. Did the Lord Jesus ever scold? He did in Matthew 23. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. Why scold them? Surely by doing so He stung them into action directed against Himself? His comments were directed to a group and not to an individual. As a group they had proved themselves to be thick skinned and insensitive. As a group they were so hard and entrenched and insensitive that they took no notice of His teaching as He answered their provocative questions. He had tried to gently teach them over the years but they had refused His parables. Now at the end of His life, He is direct, not only for the benefit of the Pharisees but for His own disciples that they would not get caught up in their way of thinking. And yet He made sure that His comments were directed to their faces. There was nothing said behind their back. I know that it is not wise to form a doctrine on that which is not told us in the scriptures. Sometimes it is permissible. For instance in Genesis 14 we are not told the names of the parents of Melchisedec although he must have had a father and a mother. When we come to Hebrews 7 we are presented with Melchisedec again and the scriptures says that he is without mother and father, without descent and having neither beginning of days nor end of life but made like unto the Son of God. The way in which Melchisedec is introduced to us in Genesis (where everyone's generation and descent is given to us except Melchisedec's) was done on purpose to give us a true picture (made like unto the Son of God).

 

We are never told of the Lord Jesus talking about anyone let alone criticising anyone behind their back. He never talked about John to Peter or about Peter to John as far as we read. And I'm sure of this that such an omission was made on purpose. What He said He had the courage to say direct to the person involved. Not only was there no recorded talking behind another's back by the Lord Jesus, I believe that there was no such talking done: there was no such talking to record.

 

Surely we have on record for us that perfect life for a purpose. A phrase we hear so often these days is way to go. And that is why the life of the Lord Jesus is recorded in so much detail in the scriptures to show us the way to go. In the Old Testament we have the lives of men of God given to us in order that those things written aforetime were written for our learning. We are able as we read of their lives to see their great triumphs under the hand of God but the Old Testament scriptures teach us, too, of their mistakes that we might learn by their mistakes for that is the least painful way to learn anything. It is far more painful to learn by our own mistakes. But when we come to the life of the Lord Jesus there are no mistakes and so we are presented with the model life on which we may confidently mould our lives.

No destructive criticism - what a wonderful world it would be.

 

"We waste our time and hurt our friends and cause ourselves great woe

When we as Christians aim our sights away from our real foe."

 

Why do we criticise so much? Is it a feeling of superiority (I could do that in a better way) or is it a feeling of inferiority (I criticise because I know I can't do such and such as well as the other person). Is it jealousy? Is it an avoidance of seeing the wrong within that makes us strike out at the wrong, however slight, that we see in others? That is the message of chapter six of Luke. If I were to remove the beam (the plank) out of my own eye, I would be better able to see to remove the splinter out of my brother's eye. We have a tremendous knack of being able to fault find; to magnify another's faults and diminish my own. We have a great tendency to get things out of perspective. But there is one more reason why we criticise. We do so to see what our listener thinks on the matter in question. We try to find out if their spirit is kindred with ours in the matter. Why can't we form an opinion or apply the principles of truth to a situation? Judge not that ye be not judged.

 

Explanation of verse 38 was given we were to imagine a person of that time in the Middle East with a long flowing and attached around the middle would be an apron capable of receiving goods like grain. A measure or a number of measures would be emptied into this apron and the buyer would carry the purchase home. A bad trader would give a short measure either by modifying the scoop or not letting the grain settle but a good trader would make sure that each scoop had it grain shaken together, pressed down and more added to make the scoop full. There would be a little bit extra thrown as well just to physically show that the buyer was not cheated in any way. When it comes to God blessing us then He makes it clear then the blessing is full and generous. He wants us to be like Him and to bless abundantly. It is not that we are just to be engaged in blessing God but that we should also bless others and not in short measures. If we deal in short measures then we must expect to be dealt short measures by those who surround us.

 

Verses 39-49Be attitudes Part 2

39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? 40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. 41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye. 43 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. 46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. 49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.


In the final part of the chapter we read of five small parables that are about inconsistencies. The Lord Jesus made it clear that the disciples had responsibilities. They were not to call Him lord and not to do the things that He said they were to do. Their lives were to be lived at the highest level and with consistency. They had a great example in the Lord Jesus for He was totally committed and consistent. His standard was perfection and though it is impossible to achieve this standard this side of glory it is nonetheless the Christians aim to achieve perfection. Fall short he or she may do but it should not be that the standard is nowhere near reached due to a lack of trying. These parables (earthly situations with heavenly or spiritual meanings) speak of the need for consistency, honesty and reality in all that we do.

 

1. The hypocrites parable in verse 39. If a blind man leads a blind man then both men will end up in a ditch. We have been considering John 9 recently in our Tuesday night meetings. Towards the end of that particular story the Pharisees ask the question about their own state. They queried whether or not they were blind as others were blind. If they had been prepared to accept that they were spiritually blind then they would have come to the one who could and would have given them spiritual sight and, as John 9 verse 41 says, removed their sin and guilt. He had been made manifest in order to expose sin and for people not to have an excuse about sin. There was no need for people to remain blind now that the Saviour had come unless they deliberately and intentionally wanted to remain blind. It was a conscious decision on their part to have nothing to do with the Light. The truth of the matter was that they felt that they could see without the Light and so it was that they remained in darkness and with their guilt intact. These were the leaders of the people but the leaders were blind. We are to be careful who we follow.

 

2. The students parable in verse 40. We are to become like the Master. We can never be above the Master but we are to learn of Him. We are to be like Him.

 

3. The carpenters parable in verses 41-42. This picture was surely dear to the heart of the Saviour. He grew up in a carpenters shop and would have known by experience all about splinters and beams. The parable is about a lack of charity of one towards another. We see faults in others but we seldom see our own faults. We need clear vision. We can only deal with others if our own shortcomings have been addressed.

 

4. The fruitful parable in verses 43-45. The fruit identifies the tree. It is very hard to tell which type of tree exists when there is no leaves and no fruit but come the summer it is easy to point out apple trees and plum trees and pear trees. We should bring forth fruit and it should be by our fruits that we are known.

 

5. The builders parable in verses 46-49. We usually read this parable in Matthews account. There the subject is the two men. Here the emphasis is upon the two foundations. It is a challenge to obedience. The man who obeys digs deep (verse 48). The other man didnt dig at all. The building on the rock could not be shaken (in Matthew the house was not shaken). When our lives are upon a firm foundation then when the testing times come they will not be shaken. Have we got the foundation right? To come each week to the gospel meeting is good but not to obey the gospel means that the person will perish when it is so unnecessary.