By Bill Spaans:
Luke 6 is one of the best loved portions of scriptures since it includes the introduction to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. But first Jesus had some other important lessons to teach – about the need for concerted prayer, and about the difference between obedience and legalism.
By this point in His public ministry Jesus had gathered many disciples, but He now chooses his inner core whom we know as the apostles. Before He does this however, He spends a whole night in prayer! Jesus was already gaining the animosity of the Jewish leaders, and now he selects Judas as an apostle. For Jesus, this one decision would start His irrevocable path to the cross. Jesus knew Judas’ heart, and knew that he would become the betrayer. I am sure that Jesus, in His human nature, struggled with that important decision, maybe as much as He did on the night before His crucifixion. So He prayed all night.
Before we make a big decision, we also ought to pray about it. Many of us have prayerfully pondered decisions for many days. But Jesus’ example of long periods of focused prayer is something I know I need to work at!
Then there is the lesson of obedience vs. legalism. As is often the case, Jesus teaches this important life lesson through His actions as much as through His words. The Jewish leaders held to an extremely strict interpretation of the commandments. In fact, they had turned the ten commandments into 613 rules which governed every aspect of life. In Luke 6 Jesus knowingly transgresses their extremely strict interpretation of the fourth commandment – to remember the Sabbath day and to keep it holy.
First Jesus condones His disciples picking grain to eat on a Sunday. Picking grain in another man’s field was not against Jewish law, as long as it was to satisfy immediate need. The Jewish leaders apparently thought that the disciples had picked too much grain and were now “reaping” which was considered sinful under their interpretation of the law. And then Jesus heals a man’s shrivelled arm. When Jesus saw the need of the man with a shrivelled arm, He immediately met the man’s need! The Jewish leaders again took exception, apparently feeling that this could have been done on another day rather than the sabbath.
What is apparent from these two examples is that the Jewish leaders were watching Jesus’ actions closely to try to trap Him in acts of disobedience of their strict rules and regulations. Jesus however taught them, and us, these important lessons:
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
Some years ago, there was the WWJD movement – “What would Jesus do”? This week lets commit ourselves to prayer and to living compassionately with one another, as Jesus taught. And to God be the glory!