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The Gospel of Luke
Chapter 6

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The Gospel of Luke Chapter Six
Commentary by Timothy H. Burdick

Now, in the start of Chapter 6, we see Jesus going through the grain fields with His disciples. They were rubbing the wheat in their hands in order to separate it from the chaff. Verse 2 says "Some of the Pharisees asked, "Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?" According to the letter of the law, the Pharisees had it right in one way. Compare what they are saying, with Exodus 34:21, “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest." The Pharisees, however, did not take into consideration the SPIRIT of verses like Leviticus 19:9 - "When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest."

David Leven says about how the Pharisees viewed Sabbath-keeping - "Of all the myriad rules and regulations the Pharisees kept in preserving their ritual holiness, their rules about the Sabbath stood at the top." The Pharisees’ ideas about the Sabbath and their rules kept them from hearing that, "The Son of Man (Jesus) is LORD of the Sabbath" (Luke 6:5).

The following concept is essential, if we are to understand what Jesus is actually saying. He referred to Himself in this passage as the Son of man, which was a majestic term from the Old Testament. Look with me at Daniel 7:13 - "In my vision at night, I looked and there before me was one like a Son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed."

While keeping the Sabbath and God’s dealing with the poor may seem like two separate issues, what I am trying to point out is that God has a heart for the poor and that He makes provision for them. In His sight, human need prevails over a set of rules. Jesus answered them, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” The story that Jesus is making reference to is found in 1 Samuel 21:3-6, - David said, "Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever you can find.’ But the priest answered David, ‘I don't have any ordinary bread on hand; however there is some consecrated bread here - provided the men have kept themselves from women.’ David replied, ‘indeed women have been kept from us, as usual whenever I set out. The men’s things are holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!’ So the priest gave him the consecrated bread, since there was no bread there except the bread of the presence that had been removed from before the Lord and replaced by hot bread on the day it was taken away.” The Pharisees were bound by rabbinic traditions rules they had prescribed so that the law would not be broken. In doing so, they had broken the law themselves.

Deuteronomy 4:2 says, "Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you." Look with me at Proverbs 30:5-6 - "Every Word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His Words, or He will rebuke you and prove you a liar."

Again, Jesus has this to say in Matthew 15:5-6, "But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, "Whatever help you might have otherwise received from me is a gift devoted to God,' he is not to honor his father with it. Thus you nullify the Word of God for the sake of your tradition." Jesus was saying that these rules weren't meant to be a burden or an end in themselves ignoring human need. But, they were not to add to them through man made legalism either.

Then Jesus said to them in Verse 5 of Luke 6, "the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." Compare what Luke says with Mark 2:27and 28: "Then He said to them, the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." Many translations say that this incident took place on the second Sabbath after the first. While many scholars have tried to speculate about what this might mean, I choose not to go there. All we can do is guess and since God has not chosen to reveal this to us, I don't see any value in this type of guesswork. A good rule of thumb to follow is, when the Bible is quiet, then we should be quiet.

Next we have another Sabbath incident. I find it interesting to compare these two stories, because they are so similar. Please read Luke 6:6-11 with me. On another Sabbath, He went into the synagogue and was teaching and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched Him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, "Get up and stand in front of everyone" (Verse 8). So the man got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them in Verse 9, "I ask you which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?" He looked around at them all and then said to the man in Verse 10, "Stretch out your hand. "The man did so, and his hand was completely restored. But they were furious (Verse 11) and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus."

This story is also recorded in, Mathew 12:9-14 and Mark 3:1-6. Before I make my own observations about this incident, I would like to look at what one author says: "By the withered hand recorded in the above historical account, we find spiritually figured the state of the Jewish church at that period." This story has some interesting things that we can note. In the first place, there is no mention here of His disciples. That is just interesting food for thought. I wonder if the disciples were in the crowd. Another thing that we find is that here Jesus is teaching in the synagogue, whereas before the disciples and Jesus were walking through the grain fields (Verse 1).

Putting the two Sabbath stories together, we seem to see a progression in thought on the part of the Pharisees. In the first narrative, the Pharisees ask a direct question. Here though, in this second account, they were trying a more indirect approach. They were getting crafty and watching Him to see if they could find fault with Him. I wonder if the man with the withered hand was a “plant” by the Pharisees to trap Him? Did they put him there to try and trick Jesus? In any case, Jesus is gaining even more respect on the part of the people, and the Pharisees felt that if He continued, they would lose face. But Luke tells us that Jesus knew what the Pharisees were thinking (Verse 8), something the author Luke didn't mention when Jesus had his first encounter with the Pharisees starting in Verse 1.

Compare this with Mark 2:8, where the Pharisees were trying to form a case against Jesus, in their minds, to accuse Him of blasphemy. Mark says, "Immediately Jesus knew in His spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and He said to them, ‘Why are you thinking these things?’" Often like this man in the story, we have a "hand that is shriveled." In our lives, this might equate to a challenge that seems impossible. Jesus says to all of us however, "Stretch out your hand." If we are walking with Him, we can overcome seemingly impossible odds. In order to face these challenges though, we need to meditate on God’s Word. John MacArthur says about a careful study of Gods word, "In order to understand it, we have to know its content."

Psalms 1:2 says, "But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night." But you might say, my schedule doesn't allow me to do that. If you believe that, you have the wrong concept of Biblical meditation. Yes it means being alone and being quiet before the Lord, but it is more than that. Biblical meditation includes, but is not limited to studying God’s Word. 2Timothy, 2:15 says, "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the Word of Truth." This is also a mind set: It is fixing your thoughts on Christ all through your day, giving Him first place in your life. In your speech, life, and through thoughts and actions, give Him glory and praise.

Paul says about this, “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts (or minds) on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (“right hand” is a term denoting authority and majesty – Colossians 3:1-2). But you might be asking, how can I keep my mind on Christ all day? “You don't know what I face,” you might be thinking. Well that is true, I don’t know, but we all have a "shriveled hand" in one way or another, emotionally or physically. That is exactly why you need to study the Bible. When “storms” come, the Bible will give you an “anchor” for your soul.

We are actually speaking about two concepts here that I want to tie together. The first concept is studying. Go back and read what Paul told Timothy. Meditation is an outgrowth of studying, where your mind and heart is consumed by the Word of God, the Bible. About putting God’s Word into action, James 3:1 says, "Not many of you should presume to be teachers my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." Here are a couple of Scriptures that have helped me in getting through tough times, and I know they will help you: "Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.” Again Paul says in Philippians 4:13, I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” There are many more verses like this in the Bible. Take time to look them up.

Luke goes on to tell us that when the Pharisees couldn't trap Jesus, they became insane with anger, plotting against Him (Verse 11). One author says about the Pharisees, "The Pharisees were in a sense, blue collar Jews who adhered to the tenets developed after the destruction of the Temple of Solomon." When looking at their actions as recorded by the Gospel writers, It is interesting to quote Proverbs 20:3 here. "It is to a mans honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel." If that is one of your stumbling blocks like it sometimes is mine, this and other verses will help us not to repeat similar actions to those of the Pharisees.

Now, let’s go on. Before picking out the twelve disciples, it is note worthy, that Jesus spent the night in prayer (Verse 12). One author says about the prayer life of our Lord: "There was an unmistakable quality about Jesus' prayer life. There was a beauty; and simplicity and majesty about it that attracted people." First Thessalonians 5:17 says about this matter of prayer: "Pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is Gods will for you in Christ Jesus." If prayer was important in the life of Jesus, how much more important should it be in yours and my life? When Paul talks about praying continually, he is not talking about spending your life on your knees. Rather, he is talking about making prayer a lifestyle. The “meditation” that we talked about above, is a form of prayer. Luke shows more then any of the other Gospel writers, how important this facet of Jesus’ life was.

Luke records more about the prayer life of Jesus than any of the other Gospel writers. After listing the twelve disciples that were chosen (Luke 6:14-16), Luke gives an abbreviated form of the Sermon on the Mount, which is found in Mathew 5:5-7. Some people say that this is a shortened version of what Matthew records, but others say that there are enough differences to make them conclude that it stands alone. This version in Luke is called, The Sermon on the Plain. Both sides have legitimate points, but I don't think that that is what is important in the final analysis. So, let’s look at the content. "Looking at His disciples, He said: "Blessed are you who are poor for yours is the Kingdom of God" (Verse 20). I believe that Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 5:3) sheds some light on this.

Lets look at it and then discuss this concept. Mathew 5:3 says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. "Notice that Luke quotes Jesus as talking about the "poor" whereas Mathew records the words, "poor in spirit." This isn't a contradiction. Jesus isn't talking about physical poverty here as much as a poverty of spirit. He is saying that if we are to come to Him, we must come to him in poverty/dependence. If we are to truly follow Him, we must not look to ourselves, but we must look directly to Him. If we really study the prayer life of Jesus, we can see how He looked to the Father in all things. In so doing, Luke goes on to record the words of Jesus. "Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh" (Verse 21).

At first glance, you might think that Jesus is condoning world hunger, or telling us to go around with a long face. This is not at all what He is saying. Matthew has put these sayings in reverse order from Luke, and as well, he has separated them with a verse in between. Mathew 5:4 says, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Luke uses the word "weep," whereas Matthew uses the word "mourn." Jesus is talking here about an attitude of genuine sorrow for sin. Looking at what Jesus meant when He talked about hunger, Matthew 5:6 says, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." While this verse is similar to what Luke records, Luke does not add on the words "for righteousness" as Matthew did. We can plainly see therefore, that Jesus isn't talking about physical hunger, but instead this He spoke of a deep yearning for the things of God. Luke however, adds the little word "now" onto what Jesus had to say. In other words, God wants us to deal with spiritual matters immediately, not in the distant future.

The writer of Second Corinthians 6:2 says, "in the time of My favor I heard you and in the day of salvation I helped you." (Here the author Paul is quoting Isaiah 49:8) - "I tell you now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation. "Now lets examine Luke 6:22-23 - "Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.” Matthew 5:11-12 says something almost identical to Luke. So while I will quote it, let's look at what Jesus is telling us. "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Have you ever noticed how fickle people really are? Jesus is talking about looking to God for our acceptance because when people learn that you really follow Him, they are likely to turn from you. Talking about this acceptance, Romans 8:14-18 says, "Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a Spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of Sonship (adoption). And by Him we cry Abba (Father). The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Luke records Jesus in verse 24 of Luke 6 as saying, "but woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort."

In comparison with people in underdeveloped countries, I might be considered rich. Is Jesus condemning all rich people? In order to find out the answer, we need to search the Word of God. Compare what Jesus is saying in Luke 6:24 with Solomon’s words, in Proverbs 11:28, "Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf." What makes this comparison so astounding is that Solomon was filthy rich. This verse lets us know that riches can stand in the way if we depend on them and let them become our “god.”

A verse that has been misused to promote wrong thinking is first Timothy 6:10. So, let’s look at what it has to say. "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." If you look at that passage closely, you will see that money in itself is not the problem. It is the love of money. For men have done a lot of wonderful things with money. Jesus talked more about money than anything else in the New Testament. This is because it acts as a spiritual barometer, showing what is in the heart. Jesus says in Mathew 6:24, "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."

Many times in the Scriptures and in life, you can learn a lot about a person by how they spend their money. We need money to live, and there is nothing wrong with having nice things, but either money or God will take first place in your life. You can't have it both ways.

Let's jump to Luke 6:26. Here Jesus says, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets." Contrasting Verse 23 of Luke 6 and Verse 26, we can see the characteristics of two groups of people. Have you ever taken a stand for God, only to be rejected for it? Then you are not alone. Look at First Kings 19:10, "He replied, I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected Your covenant, broken down Your altars, and put Your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too." Elijah, who was speaking in that verse had had a long ministry. While this verse shows how alone he felt, it also shows that as a true prophet, in spite of persecution, he tried to give God first place in his life.

Now to see some of the characteristics of a false prophet, read Second Peter 2:18-19,"For they mouth empty boastful words and by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity - for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him." I think Proverbs 10:20 says it all, "The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.” In Luke 6:27-49 Jesus says, "But I tell you who hear Me, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Loving your enemy is one of the hardest things to do, especially if we try to do it in our own strength. In order to really love this way, we must ask the Lord to love through us. In other words, we need to be obedient like the man was who had the shriveled hand at the first part of this Chapter. Jesus talked about this kind of love in John 13:34 - "a new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

Luke 6:29 – “If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you do not demand it back.” Building on what we have already said, these verses first and foremost, tell us about the attitude of love we are to have toward others. Jesus was not talking about letting others harm you or your family. God shows examples of people defending themselves throughout Scripture. One example of this, is found in Genesis 14:14 - "When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan." Self-defense is acceptable to God. Continuing in Luke 6:31-34, Jesus says, "Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked" (Verse 35). Jesus started off this passage with what we commonly call the “Golden rule.”

Confucius had what he called the “Silver Rule.” He said, "don't do to others what you don't want them to do to you." My point is that Jesus Christ put this in the positive. He did not say simply what you don't want done to you be sure not to do to others. No, he said take positive loving steps, and go out of your way to treat others the way you would want to be treated. Be merciful just as your father is merciful (Verse 36). Jesus was teaching from what the Old Testament already had said. Read Hosea 6:6 - "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings. (To see how King David was a “type” of Christ in showing mercy in one case, look up 2 Samuel 19:23.).

Luke 6:37 – “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.” Paul says in Romans 8:1, "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit." “Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Verse 37). I confess that I don't understand this fully, but look with me at Matthew 7:14-15 - "Therefore, if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."

Let me make a few observations before we go on. I hear the Scripture about not judging others used for all kinds of reasons. If we look at it in the context of this passage, it simply means that if we have to correct someone, we should do it in a loving way. We must resist the temptation to clock our own opinions in piousness. We should be bold to speak out God’s Word, but Only God’s Word and never in a self-righteous way!! Compare what I have said here with Zechariah 4:6 - "So He said to me, this is the Word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord Almighty."

A lot of televangelists love the Scripture in Luke 6:38, which says, “Give and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over…” But many times I am sorry to say that it is often used in order to fund their own interests. We are not supposed to give to get something in return. Christ looks at our motives and why we do what we do. "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.” He also told them this parable starting in Verse 39 – “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” I know that this part of the parable is true from personal experience. My wife and I are both blind. I was trying to guide her one day and she fell into a hole.

Jesus referred to the Pharisees elsewhere as “blind guides.” They tried to lead the people who were stumbling, but for the most part the Pharisees were “blind” as far as Spiritual things go. Look with me at Matthew 15:14, where Jesus says about the Pharisees, "leave them; they are blind guides." A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.

In the context of teaching, look at what James 3:1says - "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." Then Jesus goes on in Verse 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? How can you say to your brother, ‘brother let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brothers eye.”

Some teachers, talk only about the light side of what Jesus is saying in this passage. While the picture of someone with a plank in their eye, trying to pick a speck out of their brother’s eye is amusing, this message has a very serious undertone. Dr. Ralph Wilson says, "The point is this: until we take the time to deal with our own sins and weaknesses, we're in no position to help someone else get rid of sin in his own life."

Then Jesus goes on in Luke 6:43, “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers.” Look with me at John 15:4-5, "Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

In Luke 6:46, Jesus asks, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not do what I say?” One author says about this question asked by Jesus, “If Jesus is ‘Lord,’ then obedience is neither optional nor debatable." Jesus said in Luke 6:47, “I will show what he is like who comes to Me and hears My words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it because it was well-built. But the one who hears My words and does not put them into practice, is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete." Jesus is talking here about digging deep and laying a good foundation in the Word of God, the Bible. Finally, look at 2 timothy 2:15 again. I think that it bears repeating - "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth."

In conclusion, I see four themes running through Chapter 6. They are 1) obedience, 2) love, 3) mercy and 4) the Chapter encourages a careful study (meditation) upon God’s Word, the Bible. Thank you and please join me for Luke 7.

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