…what is not lawful…
· The disciples were offending the Pharisees’ hangups
o There was nothing wrong with what they were doing, according to Deuteronomy 23:25.
David and the showbread
· This event: I Samuel 21.
· Legitimate human need is more important than mere religious ritual
o Hosea tells us: “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” [Hosea 6:6]
· That’s one of the biggest problems with religion, though; for the religious, what someone’s doing is vastly more important than how they’re doing or where they’re at
o But with God, how you’re doing is a deeper concern than what you’re doing.
· Now, all that being said, I need to point out that this only applies to legitimate human need – sin is still sin.
o It’s never justifiable to murder someone.
o It’s never justifiable to sleep around and cheat on your wife
o It’s never justifiable to lie and cheat and steal
o It’s never justifiable to turn your back on God
· Legitimate human need is more important than mere religious principle – legitimate human need.
…the scribes and the Pharisees watched Him closely…
· The religious leaders watched Jesus closely, but with no heart of love for Him. We can watch Jesus, but still be far from our hearts from Him.
o What is more, they knew Jesus would do something when He saw this man in need. In this sense, the Pharisees had more faith than many of us, because we often doubt Jesus’ desire to meet the needs of others.
Stretch out your hand.
· An impossible request; the man’s hand was withered. Muscles atrophied, nerve endings probably long dead, bones likely brittle.
o But Jesus requested him to trust that He would do for him what he couldn’t do for himself, if he would step out in faith and do what he could do
§ And in this case, all he could do was want to want to obey.
…they were filled with rage…
· Sooooooo…it’s okay to be murderously furious against someone who went around doing good for people, but it’s bad to actually go around doing good for people…
o That’s the insanity of religion.
Prayer for the selection of the Apostles
· In a very real sense, the selection of the Twelve Apostles was one of the most important and long-reaching decisions that Jesus would make during the three years of His public ministry before the cross
o The twelve men He was about to select would follow Him, catch His vision, carry on His work, and without them the message of what He was about to do for mankind would never extend beyond the borders of Judea to the rest of the world.
§ And so He, the perfect Son of God, spends all night in prayer
· Now, that being said, when we read the next few verses and learn about the men He chose for this all-important calling, we can only come to one of two very, very different conclusions:
o Either He blew the prayer, or
o the Father led Jesus to choose these specific men.
· Now this is an interesting, wacked-out group of guys.
o On the one hand, you have a pro-Roman tax collector (Matthew Levi), and on the other, an anti-Rome Zealot (Simon)
o On the one hand, you have the Apostle Jesus loved (John), and on the other hand, you have the Apostle who would betray Him (Judas)
· Someone once asked a wise man why Jesus chose Judas Iscariot as a disciple. The wise man replied, “I don’t know. But I have an even harder question: why did Jesus choose me…?”
To: Jesus, Son of Joseph, Woodcrafter's Shop, Nazareth
From: Jordan Management Consultants, Jerusalem
Subject: Staff Aptitude Evaluation
Thank you for submitting the resumes of the 12 men you have picked for management positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests, and we have not only run the results through our computer but also have arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant.
It is the opinion of the staff that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education, and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability.
Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau. James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus definitely have radical leanings, and they both register a high score on the manic depressive scale.
One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious and innovative. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man. All other profiles are self-explanatory.
We wish you every success in your new venture.
· [I Cor. 1] But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty
o Jesus chose these twelve men specifically because they were the least qualified for the mission, so that the whole world would know, when they against all odds wind up turning the Roman Empire on its head, that it had to be God.
· Jesus still chooses unqualified people, cracked pots, just like you & me, today.
· And I think that part of why Jesus chose these twelve specifically, is because they represent the kind of people Jesus always chooses – they represent you & me.
o The Apostles were conflicted, with divided loyalties – the tax collector and the zealot
§ We (I) are often conflicted, with divided loyalties.
o They loved Him, and yet they had within their own number the capacity to betray Him in the worst of possible ways
§ We (I) love Him, but there is a constant war in my flesh that would betray Him at the first possible opportunity.
o They were mostly clueless, often blew it, usually made a real mess of things that Jesus then had to fix
§ …the parallel with us (with me) is all too painfully clear…
o And the Apostles, messed up as they were, spent time with Jesus
§ The betrayer was dealt with
§ The love of the Apostles for Jesus grew, and though they were weak and inconsistent, He still loved them and entrusted the keys of the Kingdom to them, and never gave up on them, and baptized them with His Holy Spirit – and used them powerfully, then received them up to glory.
· All by grace. All by grace.
· What a mighty God we serve!
the Sermon on the Mount
· Just like it can be said that the Ten Commandments are the summary of the entire Law of God in the OT, the Sermon on the Mount is often regarded as the summary of Jesus’ teaching on Kingdom Living
o Think of it as a “Manifesto of the Kingdom”
o Keep in mind – it’s written to believers – to those who will be living in the Kingdom.
§ Specifically, it’s addressed to disciples.
o [adapted from Guzik] it’s often referred to as the "‘Agenda of God’s Kingdom." It’s not about salvation, but lays out for the disciple and the potential disciple how having Jesus as your King translates into how you live every day life.
· [Guzik] It has been said if you took all the good advice for how to live ever uttered by any philosopher or psychiatrist or counselor, took out the foolishness and boiled it all down to the real essentials, you would be left with a poor imitation of this great sermon.
· As in, “poor in spirit.”
o Jesus uses the Greek word that means absolutely, completely destitute
§ Speaks of a beggar who is absolutely, utterly dependent on the compassion of others
o Someone who’s come to the end of themselves, realizes that they have no hope at all in themselves, and throw themselves completely at the mercy of the Lord.
· It’s to these that Jesus promises the Kingdom.
· [Guzik] Therefore poverty of spirit is an absolute prerequisite for receiving the kingdom of heaven, because as long as we keep illusions about our own spiritual resources, we will never receive from God what we absolutely need to be saved.
· The poor, the hungry, the weeping, can all be blessed, because Jesus is here to meet all their needs.
o Tragically, though, we too often look for the wrong things in the wrong way to fill those deepest of needs, and thus are left even more lost, even more lonely, even more emotionally, socially, and spiritually destitute than before.
o Jesus tells us to find the answers for all these needs and more in Him.
· Jesus seems to promise that if we abandon ourselves completely to Him, and follow Him, we will be filled with complete joy and at the same time often in trouble – two states that seem to be contradictory to each other!
· In contrast with the disciples who had given up everything to follow Jesus were the people who would refuse to give up anything to follow Him
· Not a threat, but an expression of compassion and regret – Jesus is warning those who are content to settle for so vastly much less than what He has for them.
· In many ways the greatest tragedy is someone who is oblivious to their spiritual condition, and go around fat dumb and happy in and with this dark and dying world and this broken, dreary life, and who never come to the end of themselves and cry out to the Lord.
o Sadly, most people don’t ever even consider coming to the Lord until their lives are crashing down around their heads
o Can somebody be experiencing relative goodness and blessing in this life and still come to the Lord? Sure – but that does tend to be the exception.
o That’s why I’ll often pray, “Lord, whatever it takes” when praying for someone for their salvation.
· Also, what Jesus is doing in these Beatitudes (both the “blesseds” and the “woes”) is turning an upside-down world rightside-up again
o He contrasts the current expectations of the world’s kingdoms with the spiritual reality of His Kingdom.
o His words make a mockery of the world’s values. He exalts what the world despises and rejects what the world admires.
§ Too often, we just ask God to bless our agenda instead of giving ourselves over to His agenda. What Jesus speaks about in this message are those things which should be at the top of our "to do" list.
love your enemies
· The love Jesus tells us to have for our enemies isn’t some warm, fuzzy feeling that we have deep in our hearts.
o If we wait for that, we’ll never love them.
o The love we are to have for our enemies is a love that does something for them, with no regard for from how we might feel about them.
· It has been said: “the best victory over an enemy is to make him your friend.”
Bless those who curse you
· That means that we’re commanded by Jesus to never talk bad about people – especially our enemies, but only to say those things which are needed to build people up.
To him who strikes you on one cheek…
· Jesus isn’t advocating extreme pacifism
o He is the same God who in the Law tells the head of the house that if somebody’s breaking in to your house at night, for instance, you’re completely within your rights to do whatever it takes to remove the threat to your family.
· What Jesus is saying, is that if someone slaps me on the cheek, I am not to retaliate.
· One other thing that might help to put this into better perspective: in that culture, a slap on the cheek wasn’t so much a physical attack as it was an attack on your honor.
o Jesus isn’t prohibiting self-defense, but retaliation.
§ When we truly love our enemies, it will drive them crazy.
…takes away your cloak…
· If I am truly a disciple, if I am truly in a relationship with Jesus, I know by faith that He’s going to take care of me, so I don’t need to worry.
Give to everyone…
· Is there a limit to this? Yes – the limit of love.
o The limit is easy to find: the limit of love. When fulfilling a person’s request isn’t loving towards them, then I shouldn’t do it. Giving a person everything they ask for isn’t love.
· But we don’t really come to that particular limit too often, do we?
o Usually, we allow our own pride, or lack of comfort, or unwillingness to sacrifice to be our limit.
the “Golden Rule”
· [Daniel] The Hindu religion, the Jewish tradition, the Baha'i faith, the Buddhist religion all teach, "Don't do to others what you don't want done to you". But Jesus taught, "Do unto others what you want them to do to you". Most of us find it easier to live by the first rule.
o Sadly, some even follow the “iron rule” – do unto others before they do unto you.
o But Jesus calls us to the higher standard.
· So many people claim to be believers but won’t obey the Lord’s command in Hebrews to “not forsake the gathering together of yourselves as is the habit of some” – and the excuse revolves around how they’re treated by other Christians.
o Now, on the one hand, that excuse is a valid one; the majority of the church body isn't even following the standard of Hindus, Jews, Baha'is and Buddhists, much less the standard that Jesus set forth!
· But really, at the end of the day, it is an excuse.
o Jesus tells us to treat others as we’d like to be treated – and that can only happen in the context of hanging out and rubbing shoulders with other people – even other Christians – who need that kind of pre-emptive mercy.
· Plus, think of it this way: what would church look like – what would the world look like – if Christians actually and actively obeyed Jesus here in Luke 6:31? If they actually and actively looked after the needs and blessings of others instead of themselves? What would this church look like?
o So what are you going to do about it…?
· [adapted from Daniel] By now, the people listening to Jesus deliver this teaching, are thinking, "Well, I love my family and friends. I do good to them, and I lend my stuff to people who lend me stuff. Isn't that good enough?" No, it's not good enough. Jesus is calling us out of the world. We're supposed to be different than the world. Even sinners love those who love them.
· God calls us to love others the way He loves us – unconditionally.
o It’s no great credit to love those who love you, or to love those who are nice to you, or to love those who don’t do you bad.
§ Anybody could do that.
§ Hitler could do that.
§ Osama binLaden could do that.
o But if we’re followers of Jesus, if we’re filled with and led by His Holy Spirit, we’re called to go beyond just that, and love those who hate us, who despitefully use us, who betray us and do us wrong.
§ To love them – to actively seek their blessing and betterment.
· That’s not really all that an extreme of an example when applied spiritually.
o Basically, Jesus points out that I usually tend to be a lot more tolerant of my sin than I am of yours.
· And Jesus tells us that we need to show to others the mercy God shows to us.
· We can only follow Jesus this way if we have been radically changed by Him. If Jesus has touched us, it will show in our lives.
o But we don’t do these things and live this way to get saved, or to earn salvation – but instead we do these things naturally because we already are saved.
· Which brings up that this entire teaching from Jesus points out that what comes out of my life is the true test and proof of what’s in my heart and where my heart is with Him.
o If my root is good (if I’m rooted in Jesus, if I’m really saved) my fruit will show it.
o If my root is not good, my fruit will show that, too.
when the flood came…
· Notice – He doesn’t say “if,” He says “when”.
o We should be thankful for the floods that come into our lives now, because it is better for us to find out now what kind of foundation our lives are on than at judgment before God.
But he who heard…did nothing…
· Simply hearing the Word does nothing for you – it isn’t enough to just hear the Word to give you a firm foundation that can weather any storm.
o We need to be doers of the Word, not hearers only.