Sunday, May 20, 2012

Luke 6 - Jesus angers the religious and calls the radicals

(Click here to read Luke 6)

Chapter six begins by describing the last two controversies Jesus had with the Pharisees (see last entry), describes the choosing of the disciples, and records the Sermon on the Plain, Luke's collection of some of Jesus' most famous teachings, known more commonly as the Sermon on the Mount.

The Controversies

vv1-5 – Controversy over the Sabbath

Jesus disciples are gleaning grain, picking it off of stalks by hand to eat because they are hungry. I imagine they probably just grabbed it as they walked without making much of a production about it. The pharisees confront Jesus, saying that what the disciples are doing is unlawful. In actuality, Moses' law only expressly forbids harvesting grain in your own field with a tool, as you would for your income, for your regular work. The pharisees created extra laws and amendments as they made interpretations for application in a changing world. In this case, they were applying something to the disciples that they themselves had said was unlawful, but had no authority outside of their interpretation. They were trying to control people with man-made religion.

Jesus responds with a story of the respected and honoured King David, who actually did disobey the law of Moses to feed his hungry fellowship, suffering no consequences. He then tells the Pharisees that he is Lord of the Sabbath. In affect, he tells them that they have no authority to interpret the application of God's law to others, but he does.

vv6-11 – Jesus heals on the Sabbath

This time the religious leaders actually conspire to catch Jesus in some wrongdoing. They watch to see if he will heal the withered hand of a man on the Sabbath. Discerning their deception, he asks them whether it is right to do good on the Sabbath. He then heals the man's hand. And they are furious. Imagine being furious over a miraculous healing. It may have been even more infuriating to them that he did no actual work. He simply asks the man to stretch out his hand, and he does. Neither speaking nor stretching one's hand could possibly be considered work. After this, the pharisees begin to conspire further to do something else to Jesus in their fury, anticipating the crucifixion.

Jesus Picks His Apostles

Choosing apostles was preceded by a night of prayer. Disciples are followers. Apostles are people who are sent.

Amazing that Jesus has both a zealot and a tax collector among his inner circle. He chose to keep company with a man accused of being a traitor to his people by working for the occupying empire, along with a freedom fighter that identified himself with violent insurrectionists. This would be like having a radical activist and former police informant in the same church. Jesus cares for both.

The passage says that Judas becomes a traitor (v16). Therefore, we can assume that he was not considered one when he was called. Compare this to Matthew (Levi), the tax collector. He would have been considered a traitor because of his previous job, yet the text makes no mention of it. All the disciples begin with a clean slate.

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