6 1-2 One Sabbath Day,[a] some Pharisees confronted Jesus again. This time, they saw the disciples picking some grain as they walked through the fields. The disciples would dehusk the grain by rubbing the kernels in their hands, and then they would eat it raw.
Jesus certainly has His detractors. They watch Him closely and voice their opposition to His words and actions. Sometimes they even try to stump Him with questions or publicly humiliate Him. But Jesus refuses to be intimidated. For every charge they level, He has an answer. To the charge of blasphemy, He responds, “I have the authority to forgive sins.” To the charge that He befriends sinners and parties too much, He answers, “These are My people; I’ve come for them.” To the accusation that He breaks Sabbath law, He quips, “The Sabbath is a great servant, but it’s not your master. I am Lord of the Sabbath.” The crowds are amazed at the tense give-and-take between Jesus and His opponents. They seem to respect the Pharisees for their strict observance of God’s law, or perhaps they fear them because they don’t want to become targets of Pharisaic criticism. Yet the people are attracted to Jesus because of the peculiar moral authority He exhibits. As time goes on, Jesus crosses more and more lines drawn in the sand. The tension between Jesus and the Pharisees now becomes a major plotline of Luke’s story.
Pharisees: Don’t You know the sacred law says You can’t harvest and mill grain on the Sabbath Day—the day on which all work is forbidden? Why do You think You can ignore the sacred law?
The Pharisees think they have God all figured out. They claim to be experts in the sacred writings—the Hebrew Scriptures. But Jesus doesn’t fit in with their assumptions and expectations, and He doesn’t submit to their presumed expertise. So they are constantly criticizing Him and trying to trap Him in some obvious wrongdoing or unorthodoxy. But Jesus responds with questions instead of answers. He seems to decide that the best way to help them is by challenging them to think, to question their assumptions, to see things from a higher or deeper perspective. For example, they argue about what is permissible on the Sabbath Day (the seventh day, the day of rest); this is how Jesus gets them thinking about the deeper purpose of the Sabbath Day.
Jesus: 3 Speaking of the sacred law, haven’t you ever read about the time when David and his companions were hungry? 4 Don’t you remember how he went into the house of God and took the sacred bread of the presence—which, you may recall, only the priests were lawfully permitted to eat? Remember that he not only ate it, but he also gave it to his companions?[b] 5 Likewise, the Son of Man has authority over the Sabbath.
6 On another Sabbath, Jesus entered the synagogue and taught there. In the congregation was a man who had a deformed right hand. 7 The religious scholars and Pharisees watched Jesus; they suspected that He might try to perform a healing on that day, which they would use as evidence to convict Him of Sabbath-breaking.
8 Jesus knew about their plan, and He told the man with the deformed hand to come and stand in front of everyone. The man did so. 9 Then Jesus spoke directly to the religious scholars and Pharisees.
Jesus: Here’s a question for you: On the Sabbath Day, is it lawful to do good or to do harm? Is it lawful to save life or to destroy it?
10 He turned His gaze to each of them, one at a time. Then He spoke to the man.
Jesus: Stretch your hand out.
As the man did, his deformed hand was made normal again. 11 This made the Pharisees and religious scholars furious. They began discussing together what they would do to Jesus.
12 Around this time, Jesus went outside the city to a nearby mountain, along with a large crowd of His disciples. He prayed through the night to God. 13 The next morning, He chose 12 of them and gave each a new title of “emissary.”
They are no longer simply disciples, which means “learners”; now they are also apostles, which means “emissaries.”
14 They included Simon (Jesus called him Peter) and Andrew (Simon’s brother); James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; 15 Matthew and Thomas; James (son of Alphaeus) and Simon (known as the Zealot); 16 Judas (son of James) and the other Judas (Judas Iscariot, who later betrayed Jesus).
17 The whole crowd of disciples (including the 12 now designated as His emissaries) came down together, and they stood on a level area nearby. They were joined by an even greater crowd of people who had come from across the whole region—from all of Judea, from Jerusalem, from the coastal areas of Tyre and Sidon. 18 These people came to hear Jesus teach and to be healed by Jesus of their diseases. Those who were troubled by demonic spirits were liberated.
19 Everyone wanted to touch Jesus because when they did, power emanated from Him and they were healed. 20 He looked across the faces of His disciples.
Jesus: All you who are poor, you are blessed
for the kingdom of God belongs to you.
21 All you who are hungry now, you are blessed
for your hunger will be satisfied.
All you who weep now, you are blessed
for you shall laugh!
22 When people hate you,
when they exclude you
and insult you
and write you off as evil
on account of the Son of Man, you are blessed.
23 When these things happen, rejoice! Jump for joy!
Then you have a great reward in heaven
For at that moment, you are experiencing what the ancient prophets did when they were similarly treated by the ancestors of your detractors.
24 All you who are rich now, you are in danger
for you have received your comfort in full.
25 All you who are full now, you are in danger
for you shall be hungry.
All you who laugh now, you are in danger
for you shall grieve and cry.
26 And when everyone speaks well of you, you are in danger
for their ancestors spoke well of the false prophets too.
Here is Luke’s most concentrated summary of Jesus’ teachings for His followers. Here He describes what life in the kingdom of God looks like.
27 If you’re listening, here’s My message: Keep loving your enemies no matter what they do. Keep doing good to those who hate you. 28 Keep speaking blessings on those who curse you. Keep praying for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, offer the other cheek too. If someone steals your coat, offer him your shirt too. 30 If someone begs from you, give to him. If someone robs you of your valuables, don’t demand them back. 31 Think of the kindness you wish others would show you; do the same for them.
32 Listen, what’s the big deal if you love people who already love you? Even scoundrels do that much! 33 So what if you do good to those who do good to you? Even scoundrels do that much! 34 So what if you lend to people who are likely to repay you? Even scoundrels lend to scoundrels if they think they’ll be fully repaid.
35 If you want to be extraordinary—love your enemies! Do good without restraint! Lend with abandon! Don’t expect anything in return! Then you’ll receive the truly great reward—you will be children of the Most High—for God is kind to the ungrateful and those who are wicked. 36 So imitate God and be truly compassionate, the way your Father is.
37 If you don’t want to be judged, don’t judge. If you don’t want to be condemned, don’t condemn. If you want to be forgiven, forgive. 38 Don’t hold back—give freely, and you’ll have plenty poured back into your lap—a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, brimming over. You’ll receive in the same measure you give.
39 Jesus told them this parable:
Jesus: What happens if a blind man leads a blind man? Won’t both of them fall into a pit? 40 You can’t turn out better than your teacher; when you’re fully taught, you will resemble your teacher.
41 Speaking of blindness: Why do you focus on the speck in your brother’s eye? Why don’t you see the log in your own? 42 How can you say to your brother, “Oh, brother, let me help you take that little speck out of your eye,” when you don’t even see the big log in your own eye? What a hypocrite! First, take the log out of your own eye. Then you’ll be able to see clearly enough to help your brother with the speck in his eye.
43 Count on this: no good tree bears bad fruit, and no bad tree bears good fruit. 44 You can know a tree by the fruit it bears. You don’t find figs on a thorn bush, and you can’t pick grapes from a briar bush. 45 It’s the same with people. A person full of goodness in his heart produces good things; a person with an evil reservoir in his heart pours out evil things. The heart overflows in the words a person speaks; your words reveal what’s within your heart.
46 What good is it to mouth the words, “Lord! Lord!” if you don’t live by My teachings? 47 What matters is that you come to Me, hear My words, and actually live by them. 48 If you do that, you’ll be like the man who wanted to build a sturdy house. He dug down deep and anchored his foundation to solid rock. During a violent storm, the floodwaters slammed against the house, but they couldn’t shake it because of solid craftsmanship. [It was built upon rock.][c]
49 On the other hand, if you hear My teachings but don’t put them into practice, you’ll be like the careless builder who didn’t bother to build a foundation under his house. The floodwaters barely touched that pathetic house, and it crashed in ruins in the mud.