Everything has been going really well for Jesus so far.
The reports of His authority &
power have reached far & wide & some of the religious leaders from
While they’re a bit mystified by His teaching, they cannot argue with the power He possesses.
So the net result of their conclusions at this point is that Jesus is a notable rabbi.
With this apparent acceptance of Jesus by the authorities, the crowds of common people swell all the more.
This increased popularity startled the Jewish rulers.
Keep in mind that there was a long
history of guys who’s appeared in
Many of these frauds had managed to make a stir & raise a following who’d gone off and attacked the Romans.
The Romans reacted with another severe crackdown and limit of Jewish privileges.
And after putting down the insurrection, the first guys to feel the heat of Roman wrath were the Jewish rulers who the Romans felt couldn’t keep the peace.
The rulers would be removed from their positions and the Romans would install new guys in their place.
So when large crowds began swirling around Jesus – the Jewish rulers became quite concerned.
It didn’t help that many were voicing their hope that Jesus would prove to be the Messiah.
So, even though this is still early in Jesus’ ministry & His fame has just now taken off, Luke tells us all is not joy in Beantown.
Jesus’ confrontation with the authorities began simply – with a violation of their ideas of the Sabbath.
The first run-in takes place in a grain field
1 Now it happened on the second Sabbath after the first that He went through the grainfields. And His disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate them, rubbing them in their hands.
Gentle hills lie all around
It’s a Sabbath day & Jesus is walking through a field of standing grain.
Because disciples are always with their rabbi, we find Jesus’ disciples trailing after Him.
And as they pass through this field, they casually reach out & pull some of the ripening heads of grain, rub them in their hands, blow off the chaff, & pop them in their mouths for a little snack.
Now, this wasn’t considered theft – Deut. 23:24-25 permits this.
24 “When you come into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes at your pleasure, but you shall not put any in your container. 25 When you come into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not use a sickle on your neighbor’s standing grain.
God permitted travelers to eat what came to hand as they traveled because they didn’t have the means & methods of preserving food we do today.
And since most travel was done on foot, it meant people might grow weary & faint for lack of nourishment.
Allowing people to snack off of what came to hand from a nearby field was entirely appropriate.
So there was nothing immoral or unethical in what the disciples did.
It’s when they did it that was the problem . . .
2 And some of the Pharisees said to them, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?”
This wasn’t so much a question as a charge!
To the Pharisees, the charge of being a “Sabbath-breaker” was one of the worst things you could be called.
They fancied themselves the Sabbath
Police whose duty it was to run around
You see, they believed the Messiah wouldn’t come until the Sabbath was perfectly observed.
Some of them were tagging along with Jesus & the disciples.
When they saw the disciples pluck & process this grain, they were irate.
In their eyes, this was work, and of course, no work was allowed on the Sabbath!
What made it even worse in their eyes is that Jesus didn’t rebuke the disciples for this violation of the Sabbath law.
3 But Jesus answering them said, “Have you not even read this, what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he went into the house of God, took and ate the showbread, and also gave some to those with him, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat?”
Technically, the bread was not to be used that way – but in this instance, it was a matter of life or death.
Jesus used this story from the time of David to show that in God’s view, human need is more important than religious ritual.
People who are steeped in tradition & bound to the idea of religious ritual find it hard to accept that those rituals must not interfere with the mercy & grace of God which is passionate about meeting real, human need.
For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
In Psalm 51:17 we find . . .
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.
In their desire to obey the law of the Sabbath, which prohibits work, the Pharisees had logically asked – “Well, what’s work? If we’re going to obey this law, don’t we have to identify what constitutes work?”
They then went on to list 39 categories & thousands upon thousands of rules of what constitute work.
If a beggar came by one’s house on the Sabbath, there was a proper way to give him alms.
You couldn’t reach your hand out the door because that would be leaving your house, forbidden.
So the beggar had to stick his hand inside the doorway.
But the beggar couldn’t pick the coins out of your open palm, because that would be lifting a burden, forbidden.
The giver would drop the coins in the beggar’s hand.
This process of defining new “halachic” laws (rules governing daily activities) hasn’t ended with the Orthodox Judaism of today.
Advances in technology mean the question of what constitutes work goes on.
For instance, regarding whether or not one can open a refrigerator on the Sabbath –
When you open the door, the light comes on.
Turn on a light is forbidden because it produces a spark and that would be kindling a fire, which is strictly forbidden on the Sabbath.
So in orthodox homes, they unscrew the refrigerator light before the Sabbath starts.
When you open the door, warm air gets in, which the sensor picks up, and turns on the compressor, which generates another spark.
So, Orthodox homes either have a timer on the compressor that turns it on or off, or they have to wait until the compressor comes on by itself, then they can open the door.
In 1992, tenants let 3 apartments in an Orthodox
Telephone use is forbidden on the Sabbath.
In the half-hour it took the rabbi to decide that it would be permissible to call the fire department in this case, the fire spread from the original apartment to 2 neighboring apartments.
It’s precisely this mentality that challenged Jesus when the disciples plucked the grain.
The rigid legalism of the Pharisees saw the act as forbidden because they put their rules above human need.
Jesus corrected them – While man’s rules aim at gaining self-righteousness, God’s rules aim at man’s welfare.
Then Jesus seals it -
5 And He said to them, “The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”
The Pharisees had judged the disciples for Sabbath-breaking, & called Jesus out for not rebuking them for it.
Jesus turns the tables on them by saying – “You guys are so concerned about the Sabbath because you think by obeying it the way you do, you’re obeying God. I’m Master of the Sabbath. I don’t fall under your Sabbath rules – I’m over the Sabbath.”
This was a startling statement – the kind of thing that would polarize them into 1 of 2 camps; 1) Fierce opposition or 2) Curious followers
6 Now it happened on another Sabbath, also, that He entered the synagogue and taught. And a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7 So the scribes and Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath, that they might find an accusation against Him.
The hard-heartedness of these guys is difficult to grasp.
The question wasn’t if Jesus COULD heal the guy, but if He WOULD.
They knew Jesus had the power to heal – that was not the question.
All they were concerned about was if He had the will to heal.
Of no concern to them was this man’s affliction.
They only wanted to protect their rules; their narrow ideas about what constitutes righteousness.
8 But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, “Arise and stand here.” And he arose and stood. 9 Then Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one thing: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy?”
Jesus had the man stand so they could all be sure to see.
Then He asked them all a question: “On the Sabbath, what’s the right thing to do – Good, or Evil?”
On everyday it’s right to do Good. And the good thing to do in this case was to heal this man.
To possess the power to do a good thing and not do it is wrong.
Having asked the question, Jesus waited, but they gave no answer because there was only one answer to give & it would have permitted Jesus to heal the guy.
They wanted Jesus to heal him but only SO THEY COULD ACCUSE HIM of being a Sabbath-breaker.
If they gave the answer they knew they should, they’d be culpable along with Him.
10 And when He had looked around at them all, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. 11 But they were filled with . . .
Praise at the love, mercy, & kindness of God for giving back this man the use of His hand so he could work and provide for his family and contribute to the life of the community once again.
11 But they were filled with rage, and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
Do not miss what this teaches us about legalism.
Legalism is when we take our ideas about what it means to obey God and we make them the means of gaining His approval, for ourselves and for others.
Fred had known the Lord for a few years when someone gave him a book on discipleship.
He read it and it helped him immensely.
He found it so helpful he bought a half dozen copies & gave them to some of his friends at church.
Within a few weeks they’d all read it and told him how good it was and how much it had helped their walk with the Lord.
Fred then asked if they’d like to meet weekly for breakfast so they could go over it together. They all agreed and began meeting.
Each week they would read a chapter then discuss it, ending their time in prayer.
These weekly morning sessions helped each of the guys deal with some personal issues that had troubled them before.
One chapter of the book dealt with the need for daily devotions.
The author said that Christians needed to spend a half hour every day praying & another half hour reading the Bible.
The book urged it’s readers that if finding time to read & pray was difficult, then getting rid of the TV was a good idea.
After meeting for a year, the men decided to split up their group into pairs & start new groups with new guys.
Within 5 years, there were 24 weekly men’s groups that were meeting, the central fixture of which was that little book on discipleship.
But there was a growing sense of “us vs. them” that was growing in the church; the “us” being those who were part of a men’s group and who were following the dictates of the book; the “thems” were those who were as of yet, unenlightened.
It had become a mark of being part of the “real disciples” to get rid of the TV.
So when they would visit someone’s house where there was a TV, they’d make a remark about how the man of the house really did need to join one of the morning discipleship groups.
A definite elitism surfaced, with the “disciples” as they called themselves, constantly pressuring the “seekers” as they referred to everyone else to enroll in a group and read the book.
But a lot of the men of the church saw problems with the growing group of “disciples” and truth be told, thought the little book on discipleship was not all that hot.
A showdown came when the disciples went to the pastor and demanded that he require all men in the church to read the book and enroll in a group.
This is the scenario legalism usually follows.
Someone will find some particular thing helpful in growing closer to the Lord.
But they allow that thing to eclipse the work of God’s grace & begin to expect everyone else to find as much help as they got from it.
This is what happened with the Pharisees & their view of the Sabbath.
God intended the Sabbath to be a day of blessed rest for man.
The Pharisees had turned it into a heavy burden by making it hard to obey.
It should be interesting to us to note that Jesus ran into trouble with the religious leaders over the whole principle of grace vs. legalism.
12 Now it came to pass in those days that He went
out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. 13 And
when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He
chose twelve whom He also named apostles: 14 Simon, whom He also
named Peter, and Andrew his brother;
This was an important moment – when Jesus would cull the official disciples from the large group that had been following Him, hoping He would select them for this special calling of being His disciple.
Jesus spent all night in prayer over this decision.
If He was God, why didn’t He just use His infinite wisdom & knowledge to make the selection?
In this, as in so much of His ministry, He operated out of His humanity rather than deity.
And as a man, He needed the Father’s wisdom in making His selection.
These 12 comprised Jesus’ official disciples.
Disciples, as we’ve seen, were the hand-selected students of a rabbi who followed Him everywhere.
But Jesus took these 12 as more than disciples; they would each carry on His work after His death & Resurrection.
As fitting this new calling, Jesus gave them a new title – “apostle.”
An apostle is an “ambassador;” someone who’s given an official commission to represent a king in the court or kingdom of another.
That’s the role these men fulfilled after Jesus’ ascension into heaven.
It’s a role they continue to fulfill through their contribution to the NT.
17 And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, 18 as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. 19 And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.
The crowds at this point are huge, and the mass of human need overwhelming.
But Jesus heals all who come to Him.
20 Then He lifted up His eyes toward His
disciples, and said: “Blessed are you poor,
For yours is the
We need to catch the scene here to understand what’s going on.
There are huge crowds gathered round, all of them wanting to get near Jesus so they can be healed & see the mighty works He’s doing.
This is the greatest show on Earth & Jesus is giving out incredible goodies.
But He takes a break from healing the crowds to teach the disciples.
As important & needy is the healing of the broken and diseased bodies of the crowds, is the healing of the soul of those men who are called to carry on after He’s gone.
The bodies Jesus was healing would all eventually grow old, fall to some other disease, and die.
But the soul lives forever – and it was His words, His teaching that would accomplish the inner healing that would fit those souls for eternity.
Jesus began by painting a picture of what true blessing looks like.
It’s a very different picture from what the world expects.
The world thinks the good life is marked by . . .
Satisfaction of desire,
Being adored & admired by all.
Jesus turns the table on all this just as He overturned the tables in the temple.
True happiness lies in realizing one’s spiritual poverty, having a heart hungry for God, Being broken over sin, and for being marked then opposed as one of God’s own.
24 “But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation. 25 Woe to you who are full, For you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep. 26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets.
Jesus refers here to those who define the sum and total of their lives by the things of this world and give no regard for spiritual and eternal things.
They are secularists – who’ve put all their eggs into the basket of the here and now and live for no greater purpose than their own pleasure and passion.
They have what they’ve lived for – there is no more.
27 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. 29 To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. 31 And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.
When we studied the Sermon on the Mount in
The principle that lies back of all Jesus says here is that we must not react to evil, seeking to get even or returning evil for evil.
As His followers, our goal is to do good, at all times and in all circumstances.
Our actions ought not be governed in any way, shape, or form by evil.
They should be prompted only by a desire to please God.
And what pleases Him is love!
32 “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back.
Giving that’s done because it’s guaranteed a return isn’t love – it’s just a shrewd move.
God’s kind of giving is motivated by simple love, agape, isn’t measured out by calculating what it’s going to get back.
It’s given with no strings attached – and simply because it desires to bless the one it’s given to.
That’s the love God gives us & it’s the love we ought to be giving if His Spirit lives in us.
35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
Here’s the deal – as we love others with no thought of reward or return from them, God records the gift and promises to reward us His way in His time.
Tom was walking down the hallway when he heard his two daughters arguing in their room.
9 year old Jennie said to her 12 year old sister Aubrey, “You’re stupid!”
Tom stopped in the hallway to listen and see where this would go, but Aubrey didn’t say a word.
A couple seconds later, she just walked out of the room, saw her dad standing in the hallway, smiled at him and went on her way, out to the backyard.
An hour later, when Jennie had gone to play with some of the neighbors, Tom walked by the girls room again and saw Aubrey picking up Jennie’s clothes off the floor and putting them in the hamper. Then she made Jennie’s bed.
Don’t return evil for evil. Rather, do good to those who deserve it least.
Then don’t look for thanks or praise from them.
What goes along with a life of love is a refusal to get caught up in judging others . . .
37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
I want to tell you tonight that this is something I am dealing with and God is teaching me a lot.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I tend to be harsh and judgmental.
For years I have quick to rush to judgment – only to discover my assumptions were wrong.
I recently had occasion to listen to a message on forgiveness by Damien Kyle.
It was a “slayer.”
And I feel compelled to say this – take a good hard, honest look at yourself tonight.
Is there someone you’d like to get even with?
Someone you’d like to say a thing or two to?
Someone you wish you could get alone with, tie up in a chair, with a tray of various dental tools?
You absolutely must, must, must let that go. Here’s why . . .
In the last few years, I’ve watched this church & the lives of many people torn up by unforgiveness.
When a man or woman holds on to hurts and offenses, all it does is make them bitter, and that bitterness eats up, not only their life but the lives of everyone around them.
That’s what the writer of Hebrews means when he says many have become defiled.
But it all starts with a root, some unseen, internal thing a person harbors and feeds.
So he says we must “look carefully” for ANY root of bitterness that lies in us.
If we don’t put the Round-Up of forgiveness to it – it will spring up & cause trouble.
38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
The motivation for our giving can be one of two things:
We can give to get, or We can give to bless.
If our giving is merely just a means of getting more, then it’s not a manifestation of love.
It’s a small, selfish thing, and that will be the measure of the return one gets.
Sandra got a $10,000 bonus from her work.
She decided to invest $8K of it in a CD at the local Credit Union at 3%.
The other $2K she decided to spend on gifts for her family.
As she walked through the mall, she had a blast finding stuff for her husband and two sons.
She couldn’t wait to get home to give them their gifts.
When Sandra was looking for an investment to put the $8K in, it was all about the best rate of return.
But never once while she was shopping for gifts did Sandra think about what her husband and sons would do in return.
It was pure delight finding & giving the gifts because it was all an act of love that was mindless of return.
That’s the way our giving should be – in whatever form it takes.
But here’s the deal – when we give as a simple act of love, God DOERS take note, and brings us into a realm of blessing that is unlimited & astounding.
39 And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?
We must be careful about those we choose to follow.
Anyone who’s leading is inviting those who follow him/her to ask where they’re going and what philosophy governs their path.
The leader who’s secretive and refuses to open his/her life to those he/she is leading is to be suspected.
What Jesus says here ought to make Christians extremely leery of voting for any political candidate, or following any leader who eschews God’s Word.
40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.
This is an important reminder - that being a Christian means being, not just a student of the teaching of Christ, but being a disciple of the life of Christ.
The Christian Faith is not a Philosophy to fill the mind.
It’s a new identity that embraces a lifestyle, one exemplified by the Person of Christ.
41 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
Jesus uses a humorous image here to make an important point about being judgmental.
Here’s a guy who sees a tiny speck of sawdust in another guy’s eye and gets all worked up about it – when out of his own eye is a 6 foot 2 X 4!
It’s all about perspective. Our faults ought to loom larger to us than any faults we see in others.
If we’re truly concerned for others, then we’ll deal with our own issues first so we can be better equipped to help them.
Jesus touches on an important truth here: The fault we see in others often says more about us.
We notice it in others because it’s something we struggle with but keep hidden, at least we think it’s hidden. In fact, God sees it & we’re fooling nobody.
Nathan went to King David with the story of a rich man who owned many flocks but who took his poor neighbor’s lone pet lamb and served it for dinner to a guest.
David was furious and condemned the man to death!
Nathan then pointed his finger at David – “You’re the man!”
David’s sin was far worse than the story Nathan had told for he took, not a lamb, but a woman from her husband.
We are usually far more tolerant of our sin than we are the sin of others.
We must turn that on its head, so that we are more careful with ourselves & more merciful toward others.
43 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
We covered these vs. last Sunday.
46 “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?
“Lord” means “master.” To call someone “Master” meant you were positioning yourself as a servant. Servants, serve; they obey - that’s a given.
So it’s hypocrisy to call Jesus “Lord” then not do what He says.
Don’t forget who Jesus is speaking this too – His disciples; not just the 12 He’s officially selected, but all the rest who’ve attached themselves to Him and are following Him of their own choice.
Many of this larger group of unofficial followers had taken a kind of “pick & choose” attitude with Jesus.
We see that a bit later when He ahs some hard words for them and they turn away leaving only the 12 left.
Listen, as Christians, we don’t get to pick & choose what we’ll obey & what we won’t.
Jesus didn’t lay out a smorgasbord of 3 dozen truths and tell us to take a plate of 5 things to compose our own personal philosophy out of. It’s all or nada!
47 Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. 49 But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”
Jesus does not guarantee that following Him will mean a trouble-free life.
On the contrary – life means trouble because this world is fallen and marred by sin.
Everyone will experience storms in life.
But the only ones who will weather them and come through them safely are those who’ve built their lives on the solid Rock of God’s unchanging Word.
All other ground is shifting sand.
Courson, J. (2003). Jon
Courson's Application Commentary (Page 324).