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Jesus and Religious Traditions

One Sabbath day, Jesus and his disciples were walking through a field of ripe wheat. His disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed the husks off with their hands, and ate them. This infuriated some of the Jewish religious leaders. They said to Jesus, “Why are you allowing your disciples to harvest grain on the Sabbath? Don’t you know it’s not permissible according to the law?”

Jesus replied, “Haven’t you read the Scriptures? Haven’t you read what King David did when he was hungry? He entered the sanctuary of God, took the bread of God’s presence right off the sacred table, and shared it with his men.[a] It was only lawful for the priests to eat the bread of God’s presence. You need to know that the Son of Man is no slave to the Sabbath, for I am master over the Sabbath.”

6–7 On another Sabbath, Jesus was teaching in the synagogue. In the room with him was a man with a deformed right hand. Everyone watched Jesus closely, especially the Jewish religious leaders and the religious scholars, to see if Jesus would heal on a Sabbath, for they were eager to find a reason to accuse him of breaking the Jewish laws.

Jesus, knowing their every thought, said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand here in the middle of the room.” So he got up and came forward.

Jesus said to all who were there, “Let me ask you a question. Which is better: to heal or to do harm on the Sabbath? I have come to save a life, but you have come to find a life to destroy.”[b]

10 One by one Jesus looked into the eyes of each person in the room. Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your arm and open your hand!”

With everyone watching intently, he stretched out his arm, and his hand was completely healed!

11 The room erupted with bitter rage, and from that moment on, the religious leaders plotted among themselves about how they might harm Jesus.

Jesus Chooses Twelve Apostles

12 After leaving the synagogue, Jesus went into the high hills to spend the whole night in prayer to God.[c] 13 At daybreak, he called together all of his followers and selected twelve from among them, and he appointed them to be his apostles.[d]

14–16 Here are their names: Simon, whom he named Peter; Andrew, Peter’s brother; Jacob; John; Philip; Bartholomew;[e] Matthew; Thomas; Jacob the son of Alpheus; Simon, known as a fiery political zealot; Judah[f] the son of Jacob; and Judas the locksmith,[g] who later betrayed Jesus.

17 Jesus and his apostles came down from the hillside to a level field, where a large number of his disciples waited, along with a massive crowd: people from all over Judea, Jerusalem, and the coastal district of Tyre and Sidon.[h] 18 They had all come to listen to the Word so that they could be healed of their diseases[i] and be set free from tormenting demonic powers. 19 The entire crowd eagerly tried to come near Jesus, to touch him to receive healing, because a tangible, supernatural power emanated from him and healed all who came close to him.

Jesus Taught Them What Matters Most

20 Looking intently at his followers, Jesus began his sermon. “How enriched[j] you become when you are a beggar, for you will experience the reality of God’s kingdom.

21 “How filled you become when you are consumed with hunger and desire, for you will be completely satisfied.

“How content you become when you weep with complete brokenness, for you will laugh with unrestrained joy.

22 “How favored you become when you are hated, excommunicated, or slandered, or when your name is spoken of as evil because of your love for me, the Son of Man.

23 “I promise you that as you experience these things, you will celebrate and dance with overflowing joy, and the heavenly reward of your faith will be abundant, because you are being treated the same way as your forefathers the prophets.

24 “But what sorrows await those of you who are rich in this life only, for you have already received all the comfort you’ll ever get.

25 “What sorrows await those of you who are content with yourselves, for hunger and emptiness will come to you.

“What sorrows await those of you who laugh now, having received all your joy in this life only, for grief and wailing will come to you.

26 “What sorrows await those of you who are always honored and lauded by others, for that’s how your forefathers treated every false prophet.”

Love Your Enemies

27 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies and do something wonderful[k] for them in return for their hatred. 28 When someone curses you, bless that person in return. When others mistreat and harass you, accept it as your mission to pray for them. 29 To those who despise you, continue to serve them and minister to them.[l] If someone takes away your coat, give him as a gift your shirt as well. 30 When someone comes to beg from you, give to that person what you have. When things are wrongly taken from you, do not demand they be given back. 31 The way you want others to treat you is how you should treat everyone else.

32 “Are you really showing true love by loving only those who love you? Even those who don’t know God will do that. 33 Are you really showing compassion when you do good deeds only to those who do good deeds to you? Even those who don’t know God will do that.

34 “If you lend money only to those you know will repay you, what credit is that to your character? Even those who don’t know God do that. 35 Rather love your enemies and continue to treat them well. When you lend money, don’t despair[m] if you are never paid back, for it is not lost. You will receive a rich reward and you will be known as true children of the Most High God, having his same nature. Be like your Father who is famous for his kindness to heal[n] even the thankless and cruel. 36 Overflow with mercy and compassion for others, just as your heavenly Father overflows with mercy and compassion for all.”

Judging Others

37 Jesus said, “Forsake the habit of criticizing and judging others, and you will not be criticized and judged in return. Don’t condemn others and you will not be condemned. Forgive over and over, and you will be forgiven over and over. 38 Give generously and generous gifts will be given back to you, shaken down to make room for more. Abundant gifts will pour out upon you with such an overflowing measure that it will run over the top! The measurement of your generosity becomes the measurement of your return.”

39 Jesus also quoted these proverbs: “What happens when a blind man pretends to guide another blind man? They both stumble into a ditch! 40 And how could the apprentice know more than his master, for only after he is fully qualified will he be at that level. 41 Why do you focus on the flaw in someone else’s life and fail to notice the glaring flaws of your own life?[o] 42 How could you say to your friend, ‘Here, let me show you where you’re wrong,’ when you are guilty of even more than he? You are overly critical, splitting hairs and being a hypocrite! You must acknowledge your own blind spots and deal with them before you will be able to deal with the blind spot of your friend.”[p]

The Fruit of Your Life

43 “You’ll never find choice fruit hanging on a bad, unhealthy tree. And rotten fruit doesn’t hang on a good, healthy tree. 44 Every tree will be revealed by the quality of fruit that it produces. You will never pick figs or grapes from thorn trees. 45 People are known in this same way. Out of the virtue stored in their hearts, good and upright people will produce good fruit. Likewise, out of the evil hidden in their hearts, evil ones will produce what is evil. For the overflow of what has been stored in your heart will be seen by your fruit and will be heard in your words.

46 “What good does it do for you to say I am your Lord and Master if you don’t put into practice what I teach you? 47 Let me describe the one who truly follows me and does what I say: 48 He is like a man who chooses the right place to build a house and then lays a deep and secure foundation. When the storms and floods rage against that house, it continues to stand strong and unshaken through the tempest, for he built it wisely on the right foundation. 49 But the one who has heard my teaching and does not obey it is like a man who builds a house without laying any foundation at all. When the storms and floods rage against that house, it will immediately collapse and become a total loss. Which of these two builders will you be?[q]


  1. 6:4 This incident is found in 1 Sam. 21:1–6. Jesus referred to this story to prove to the Pharisees that they were hypocrites who were willing to overlook David’s “violation” of the Sabbath but not Jesus’ supposed violation.
  2. 6:9 Jesus knew there were some present who wanted to “destroy” his life and would soon crucify him. He came to heal; they came to kill. They were the real Sabbath breakers.
  3. 6:12 This was the pattern of Jesus in the Gospel accounts. Before he made important decisions and before great events in his life, he sought his Father. Once he saw what the Father wanted, Jesus obeyed as the perfect Son. See John 5:19.
  4. 6:13 Apostle means “ambassador,” “missionary,” or “sent one.” The apostles were all different in their personalities and came from different backgrounds. The people Jesus chooses today don’t all look, act, or sound alike. The first ministry Jesus established was the apostolic. See 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11.
  5. 6:14–16 Many scholars believe that Bartholomew was the Nathaniel mentioned in John 1:45–46.
  6. 6:14–16 He is also called Thaddeus, as mentioned in Matt. 10:3 and Mark 3:18.
  7. 6:14–16 The name Judas is actually Judah. Iscariot is not his last name, but could be taken from the name of the town, Kerioth, twelve miles south of Hebron. More plausibly, it is from a Hebrew word meaning “lock”: Judah the locksmith. Most likely he was chosen to lock the collection bag, which means he had the key and could pilfer the funds at will. Sadly, he wanted to lock up Jesus and control him for his own ends.
  8. 6:17 The non-Jewish people flocked to hear Jesus, and he healed them all.
  9. 6:18 This is the literal translation of the Aramaic text.
  10. 6:20 Or “blessed.”
  11. 6:27 As translated from the Aramaic text.
  12. 6:29 As literally translated from the Aramaic text. The Greek text states, “If someone strikes you on one side of your jaw, offer the other side too.”
  13. 6:35 The Aramaic is literally “Do not cut off the hope of man.”
  14. 6:35 Literal translation of the Aramaic text.
  15. 6:41 Or “Why do you see a speck in your brother’s eye but fail to see the beam of wood sticking out of your own eye?”
  16. 6:42 Or “You hypocrite, why don’t you first remove the beam sticking out of your own eye? Then you can see clearly to remove the small speck out of your brother’s eye.” Jesus is teaching that our blind spots prevent us from accurately evaluating the needs of others.
  17. 6:49 This last question is an important summary implied in the context.

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