Category Archives: Luke

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Luke 6:37-42

Can the blind lead the blind?

Context

Jesus has begun speaking to those who would call themselves his disciples in what is often called the sermon on the plain. He has contrasted the way of discipleship with the way of the rest of the world who do not wish to listen to Jesus. Living as though they live in the kingdom now enables them to put up with suffering now. Loving others is on the basis of how God has loved them rather than how the world loves them. He now continues in this section to teach us where we stand in reference to our fellow man. Are we on higher ground because we are a disciple of Jesus?

Observation

Structure

  • 37-38 Judge like one being judged
  • 39-40 Lead like one being lead
  • 41-42 Rebuke like one rebuked

37-38 Judge like one being judged

The million dollar question in this section is: what is Jesus promising in return for obedience? For example, if we do not judge others, will we avoid the judgment of God? Again, if we do not condemn, are we pardoned from God’s condemnation? If we give, will we see prosperity from God poured down on us? Is this the prosperity gospel?

It is true that elsewhere we are told that if we do not forgive, we will not be forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15). It does not follow that Luke 6:37-38 has a parallel instruction.

Another interpretation is that if we judge and condemn then we will attract the same from others. When we forgive and give, then we are likely to receive treatment in kind. This view pairs well with verses 32-35 which taught us to love and be merciful like God is otherwise we only behave on pair with our fellow man.

Jesus is calling us to be different in this world. The principle is that disciples of Jesus and children of God behave in this manner knowing that they fall under the judgement of God, his condemnation and rely on his forgiveness and grace.

This section is an interesting talking point on how to interpret scripture. Both views have merit but we need to look at context, and the rest of the bible’s teaching to help us land well. The following parable helps shed light on this section also.

39-40 Lead like one being lead

The image given by Jesus is straightforward and quite visual (pun intended). The instruction here is to only lead once you have been lead by God. He instructs us and we may then see to leading others as one who is already lead. But presume to know more than we do and we are just blind guides. Listen to Jesus and be a disciple. James 3:1 warns against rushing into leadership through teaching.

41-42 Rebuke like one rebuked

Removing specks from other’s eyes is not forbidden here as long as you are plank free. I take it that removing a plank from your eye is quite painful. We don’t help each other to grow buy nitpicking and seeing faults that need immediate attention in others. Our biggest concern is to live humbly and thankfully in the Lord.

Meaning

Judge like one being judged; lead like one being lead; and rebuke like one rebuked. Of first importance to a Christian is there place in relation to God. We are under his judgment and condemnation. We are forgiven people who receive grace upon grace from our Father. All truth comes from Him and we are his students. The first person I know that needs rebuking is me. This is the context in which we relate to others. We may be able to rebuke a brother with the humility that comes from being rebuked ourselves. We may be able to lead others in the way of life if only we are able to be lead by the Teacher first.

Application

Topic A: Judging or discerning. God is the judge of all and it is his to avenge the guilty. Discernment falls into a different category where we are instructed to watch out for false teaching and people who might lead us away from the Lord. While we don’t want to close the door of salvation to anybody, we remain alert to correct those who teach anything other than Christ crucified and risen as the basis of salvation.

Topic B: Being able to lead others. Jesus instructs us to be humble in all of our dealings with people. We recognise his supremacy and the great graciousness he has shown to call us and include us in his kingdom. That said, he calls on us to be ready to lead people into the kingdom of God. The trick is to do it with all humility and know that without Christ, we would know nothing of the way, the truth and the life.

Topic C: A recipe for rebuking. The following passages give some insights into rebuking one another. The ultimate source of rebuke must be the Lord, and we as his humble servants. Luke 17:3; 1 Timothy 5:1; 2 Timothy 3:1; 4:2; Titus 1:13; 2:15; Revelation 3:19.

Prayer for the week

Almighty God, we do not presume to judge alongside you, nor condemn others as less righteous than ourselves. By your grace and mercy, you have called us to live and to learn as disciples of Christ. Help us to humbly walk with you and to lead others to your Son as you have first lead us. Amen.

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Luke 6:43-49

Each tree is recognised by its own fruit

Context

We are still in the sermon on the plain as Jesus speaks to his disciples and us about living for the kingdom of God rather than the kingdom of this world. The two kingdoms are not compatible and the way of Jesus is very counter-intuitive to humans. He has spoken about living and loving; judging, leading and rebuking. Now he continues to include bearing fruit before finishing the sermon on the famous parable of the wise and foolish builders. Thus he ends his sermon with a call for us to decide which life are we going to choose.

Observation

Structure

  • 43-45 Listen to the fruit
  • 46-49 Look at the fruit

43-45 Listen to the fruit

“Each tree is recognised by its own fruit” These verses talk about good versus bad fruit and type ‘A’ versus type ‘B’ fruit. If you’re going to be an apple tree then you want to be producing good apples – otherwise you are not a happy apple tree.

“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” You can tell a lot from what a person says and the way it is said. The things we love the most come flying out of our mouths to betray our hearts. A disciple of Christ cannot be one simply by name but must be one by nature and working to change the heart for Christ.

46-49 Look at the fruit

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’…” Interestingly, Jesus moves straight from a lesson on our speech showing where our heart is at, to a speech on how our mouths can lie about where our hearts are at! This is not a contradiction, rather the other side of the coin. Not only will our mouths convey what is in our hearts but our actions will support what our mouths say.

“…comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice.” This is the outward working of the gospel. We come in contact with the message of Jesus and hear the gospel, then we put it into practice. The whole sermon on the plain conveys a changed life affected by the grace of God.

“They are like a man building a house…” This is a famous parable repeated in Matthew 7:24-27. The one who hears Jesus words and puts them into practice is the wise builder. He builds deep and strong on a rock foundation. He knows who God is and how he is a saved sinner. He does not live like the world lives but in response to the compassion and kindness that God has shown to him/her. He does not love like the world loves but modelled directly from the love of the Father. He does not presume to judge others or condemn where he himself stood except for the grace of God. He does not lead our of his own wisdom but only after carefully listening to his Master. And he does not dare rebuke while there are issues to deal with in his own life. His mouth declares his love for God which wells from his heart – the heart that was purchased by God. And he puts into practice everything that Jesus has said in this sermon, even though it goes against his instincts and against the ways of this world.

The fool just goes his own way. He doesn’t regard Jesus’ words for long at all but proceeds to build his life on whatever is fleeting – riches, full stomach, laughter and applause from men.

Meaning

The instructions from Jesus in the sermon on the plain are founded on the logic of God not of men. To build your life on Jesus is to stop and listen to him and trust him enough to put all of his words into practice. Being a disciple of Christ cannot be faked and mimicked. It is so radically different from this world that the fruit of following Jesus will be plain to see.

Application

Topic A – The depths of discipleship. The good builder made such a huge foundation to build his house upon which is paralleled with the extent that we stop and listen to Jesus and put his words into practice. Are there shortcuts that you are taking in your walk with Jesus?

Prayer of the week

Our Lord and our God, please continue, by your Spirit, to train us in righteousness. We thank you that it is by grace that we are saved. Help us to put your words into practice so that people around us will see that we trust you, we love you and we want to be known as your disciples. Amen.

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Luke 6:12-16

When morning came, he called his disciples

Context

Since chapter 3 of Luke, Jesus has been making a splash (pardon the pun) in the country area of Galilee and from 4:31 he has been collecting both followers and critics. We read about Simon, James, and Levi following Jesus when called and the Pharisees recognised that Jesus had disciples who walked with him in ministry. We come to a short section where Jesus names his twelve disciples before beginning a long recorded sermon to crowds of people.

Observation

Structure

  • 12-13 Jesus carefully chooses his ministry staff
  • 14-16 A motley crew of names

12-13 Jesus carefully chooses his ministry staff

“…Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray…” Jesus’ prayer life was inspirational and one we must certainly pay attention to. The sentence here in verse 12 describes a proactive Jesus intentionally pulling away from people with the purpose of praying at length. He did not spend hours in mindless meditation but talked to God in prayer. This was not an isolated case as Luke 5:16 clearly states (see also 9:18 and 28). His prayer life made a big impression on the disciples such that they asked him how he does it (Luke 11:1). And Jesus passed on his golden rule of prayer to the disciples in Luke 18:1 which was to always pray and not give up!

“When morning came, he called his disciples…” A night of prayer resulted in clear action by Jesus just as Luke 4:42-44 gave him clarity. How often do we go swiftly from one event to the next and one day to another without stopping to talk with our God about all that is happening? Although we see that Jesus prayed often and regularly, these were moments too of special reflection and conversation with God.

“…chose twelve of them…” I want to focus on the word ‘chose’ rather than the twelve. 1 Peter 1 describes Christians as people who have been chosen by God (1 Peter 1:1-2; Romans 8:33; Ephesians 1:4, 11; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). This is a special truth for Christians to know that God has chosen you and called you. If you confess Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you are saved and this is because God has chosen you. This doctrine (election) is not given to for the sake of those not chosen but rather for those who are. It is a blessing, not a curse. Jesus chose these men as his disciples and we know, as Luke points out, that one is a rebel. So being chosen as a disciple is not the same as chosen for salvation. All who hear the gospel have the invitation given to come and be saved. Judas included. That Judas resolved to betray Jesus cannot be blamed on Jesus.

“…whom he also designated apostles.” There were more disciples than 12 (Luke 10:1) and the word simply describes a student. Anybody who becomes a student of Jesus or a follower of Jesus is a disciple. This was the command of Jesus to his disciples in Matthew 28:19-20, to be disciple makers! But these 12 were designated as apostles. This word means ‘commissioned messenger’ and the New Testament paints them as unique followers of Christ who were given powers to heal for the purpose of spreading the good news of God’s kingdom. It was not a position that was passed down to the next generation but died out with John as the last remaining apostle. Judas removed himself from the position and was replaced by Matthias and then Paul was divinely designated an apostle by Jesus also. Church history distinguishes between The Apostles and the common use of apostle to just mean messenger. Acts 1:15-22 helps us to see that a primary qualification of an Apostle was that they were with Jesus from his baptism til his resurrection so that they would bear witness of Jesus as the risen Lord. Paul also saw the risen Jesus and taught that he had been called by God to be an Apostle on par with Peter (Galatians 2:8; 1 Timothy 2:7). Jesus’ clear intention for these 12 men was that they bear witness to the ends of the earth of the gospel (Luke 24:45-48). Although Luke uses the title throughout his gospel account, the title was not likely given and attributed to these disciples until after the resurrection. Note that the word apostle is not special by itself. It is used in the bible for more people than just these twelve but over time, these twelve were known particularly as The Apostles – chosen directly by Jesus, as Paul was.

14-16 A motley crew of names

Here is the list of men Jesus called to be his twelve disciples and some notes on each person. We know a great deal about a few of these men from the bible but other names require church history for expansion. This study will focus on what the bible teaches us about each man. Church history and tradition has its place to be sure, but putting our emphasis on what the bible tells us helps us stay clear on the bible’s message and not on human history.

    1. Simon (whom he named Peter),
      1. Jesus gave Simon this new name which means rock (Matthew 16:18; John 1:42)
      2. Luke refers to him as Simon up until this point but Peter from here on until 22:31 and 24:34. I’ve often enjoyed the thought that Jesus referred to Simon Peter from his worldly name (Simon) when sin was at his door but his born again name (Peter) when he is being forgiven and called.
      3. He lived in Capernaum (Mark 1:29) but came from Bethsaida (John 1:44)
      4. Peter was recognised as the leader of the Jewish Christians (Acts 2:14, 37; Galatians 2:7-8)
      5. His journey with Jesus gave him special privilege as he watched Jesus be transfigured to reveal his glory (Matthew 17:1-8), was the first to confess Jesus as the Christ (Matthew 16:16) assigned leadership by Jesus (Matthew 16:18) prayed over by Christ (Luke 22:31-32) and personally sort after for forgiveness (Luke 24:34; John 21:15-17).
      6. Peter wrote the books of 1 and 2 Peter and tradition tells us that he authorised Mark’s gospel.

 

  • his brother Andrew,

 

      1. He and his brother Simon were in the fishing trade together (Matthew 4:18).
      2. He lived in a home with Simon (Mark 1:29).
      3. He and Simon were both from Bethsaida (John 1:44)
      4. He was a disciple of John the Baptist who pointed him to Jesus (John 1:35-40).
      5. He introduced his brother to Jesus (John 1:41).
      6. While not of the top three disciples closest to Jesus, he had a private relationship with Jesus (Mark 13:3; John 6:8; John 12:22).
    1. James,
      1. James and John were brothers known as the sons of Zebedee (Luke 5:10) and sons of thunder (Mark 3:17).
      2. Their mother was Salome who was also Mary’s sister, making them cousins of Jesus (see John 19:25, Matthew 27:56 and Mark 15:40 combined).
      3. He was one of the early church martyrs (Acts 12:1-2).
      4. He did not write the book called James, that would be James the brother of Jesus.
    2. John,
      1. See above regarding his relationship with James.
      2. John is listed second in the list by Luke in Acts 1:13.
      3. He wrote the gospel called John as well as the three letters of the same name.
      4. He, with Peter and James, were often close to Jesus and formed a privileged close circle around him (Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 5:37; 9:2; 13:3; 14:33; Luke 8:51; 9:28).
    3. Philip,
      1. John 1:43-48
      2. John 12:20-22
      3. John 14:8-10
    4. Bartholomew,
      1. This name/word means ‘son of Tolmai’.
      2. His actual name is quite possibly Nathanael – here are the arguments why:
        1. Bartholomew is arguably not his actual name since it simply means who he is the son of.
        2. Matthew, Mark and Luke do not mention Nathaniel, while John does not mention Bartholomew.
        3. The lists of the disciples in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) all place Bartholomew and Philip together (Philip and Nathanael were close according to John 1:43-48).
        4. All the men named in John 21:2 are apostles except for Nathanael (unless he is also Bartholomew).
    5. Matthew,
      1. Matthew is probably another name for Levi the tax collector (compare Luke 5:27-32 with Matthew 9:9-13).
      2. He wrote the gospel which opens the New Testament.
    6. Thomas,
      1. His name means twin and he is also known as Didymus (John 11:16; 20:24; 21:2).
      2. Although given the reputation as the doubter (which I dislike), he delivers some of the best statements about Jesus in the gospels and shows us a man who will not follow blindly but he will follow to his death (John 11:16; 14:5; 20:28).
    7. James son of Alphaeus,
      1. It is difficult to know much about this James. He is not the martyr of Acts 12 nor is he the brother of Jesus since it seems Jesus’ brothers did not believe until later. Some have suggested that he is the brother of Matthew since they both are sons of Alphaeus (Mark 2:14) but Alphaeus was a common name and this is speculation.
    8. Simon who was called the Zealot,
      1. James II, Simon II and Judas II each require some extensions to their first names to distinguish them from others.
      2. The Zealots were a nationalistic radical group who aggressively opposed the Roman state. So in Jesus’ crew we have a tax collector who worked with the state and a radical who strongly opposed it.
    9. Judas son of James,
      1. Some say that Thaddaeus of Mark 3:18 and Matthew 10:3 are Judas son of James since they occupy the same place in the list and many disciples had two names.
      2. John 14:22-31

 

  • and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

 

    1. If Iscariot refers to a certain region in Judea then Judas is the only non-Galilean in the group. The name does have the Aramaic meaning of “false one” but is that a meaning assigned to the word at a later date? It could also mean “Dyer” as a reference to his occupation. The region suggestion is most likely given John 6:71 and John 13:21-22.
    2. John 7:71; 12:4; 13:2, 26; Matthew 26:14; Mark 14:10; Luke 22:3
    3. Judas Iscariot who would betray Jesus and the group completes the list of people Jesus, after a night of vigil prayer, called his disciples.

Meaning

Dependance on God through prayer is essential in making and executing plans for the gospel. But the result of prayer is clarity, not necessarily perfection. The disciples Jesus called after prayer was a group of men with many different backgrounds who needed to learn different lessons from Jesus. Their purpose for being called was to be authentic witnesses to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Application

  • Topic A: Vigilant prayer. How often do we go swiftly from one event to the next and one day to another without stopping to talk with our God about all that is happening? Although we see that Jesus prayed often and regularly, these were moments too of special reflection and conversation with God. On top of the passing conversational prayers that you may enjoy with God, consider the discipline of stepping outside of our busy lives to be with God in prayer. A special and extended prayer time could be considered every morning? Once a week? Once a fortnight?
  • Topic B: Being called to discipleship. Jesus chose twelve men to teach and do life with as he trained them for gospel ministry. He then sent them out in Matthew 28 to make more disciples (see also Luke 24:45-49). We are the beneficiaries of the ministry that Jesus started here in Luke 6. 1 Peter 1:1-2 describes the process of being made a disciple of Christ and it is not through importance or brilliance or beauty but through God’s grace in calling and redeeming and refining. Do you identify yourself as a disciple of Christ?
  • Topic C: The before and after of Christian growth. These twelve men began their traineeship with Jesus and went on to serve Christ with their lives (excluding Judas Iscariot). Consider the before and after shot of some of these men and praise God that he is doing his work in you and your group too. Read Ephesians 2:1-10 (especially verses 8 to 10) or Titus 3:5 and thank God for his handiwork.

Prayer of the Week

Lord God, you saved us, not because of the righteous things we’ve done but by your mercy through Jesus Christ your Son. Increase our faith, grow our love, and complete our joy by knowing you and Jesus Christ whom you sent. Amen.