Luke chapter 6

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What does Luke chapter 6 mean?

Luke 6 continues Luke's account of Jesus' Galilean ministry (Luke 4:14–9:50). This began with examples of Jesus' power and authority and the people of Nazareth's rejection of Him (Luke 4:16–44). Luke continued the theme with a series of calls for the Twelve to discipleship. Those were interspersed with stories of Jesus' godly but counter-cultural priorities, which revealed the growing resistance of local religious leaders (Luke 5). Luke 6 completes Jesus' call of the Twelve then transitions to the "Sermon on the Plain," a description of the self-sacrifice required by those who identify with Him. The chapter ends with a general call for all to build their lives on Him.

The first three stories in Luke 6 continue the prior chapter's pattern: pairing two models of the new way in which Jesus does ministry with a call to specific disciples. In the first example, Pharisees criticize Jesus for allowing His disciples to pluck and shuck grain heads on the Sabbath. Jesus responds by pointing out David, before he was king, took and ate the bread of the Presence at the tabernacle which was reserved only for priests. The comparison sounds meaningless without historical background. Yet the Pharisees' extra-scriptural laws against the disciples' actions are based on the steps needed to bake the bread of the Presence. Having proved His point, Jesus takes authority over all aspects of the Sabbath (Luke 6:1–5).

The second story is similar. Jesus is teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath. The Pharisees are watching closely to see if Jesus will heal a man with a withered hand, one of the listeners. This condition might have been the result of a virus like polio, some type of disease that induces paralysis and atrophy, or perhaps even an injury. Jesus challenges the Pharisees: if the Sabbath is meant to be a blessing for people, shouldn't He have the right to bless this man? He heals the suffering man, but the Pharisees are livid and begin their machinations to destroy Him (Luke 6:6–11).

Jesus had already chosen Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Levi, also known as Matthew, to follow Him (Luke 5:1–11, 27–28). After spending all night in prayer, He chooses the final seven men who will be His apostles. It is these men, minus Judas Iscariot, who will build the church (Luke 6:12–16).

The rest of the chapter is Jesus' "Sermon on the Plain." It covers much of the same information as the "Sermon on the Mount" in Matthew (Matthew 5—7) but in condensed form. Scholars debate as to whether these were the exact same speech. Since Jesus was a traveling teacher, it's possible He presented the same broad lessons numerous times during His earthly ministry. Notably, because Luke's readership is Gentile, he leaves out the parts that directly reference the Mosaic law. The event begins with Jesus ministering to "a great multitude of people" from everywhere from Jerusalem to Tyre. They have come to be healed from diseases and freed from demons but stay to listen to Jesus' words (Luke 6:17–19).

Where Matthew beings with a thorough list of beatitudes, Luke has a brief list and then transitions into a list of parallel woes. Jesus promises blessings to the poor, hungry, mournful, and hated, and woes to the rich, full, fortunate, and popular. Those who are persecuted for following Jesus will be blessed; those who seek public approval will be cursed. The blessings and curses will primarily be fulfilled in eternity (Luke 6:20–26).

Luke then ties Matthew's section on retaliation and generosity (Matthew 5:38–42) with the section on loving one's enemies (Matthew 5:43–48). We are to love our enemies even when they curse us, insult us, and sue us. If we treat our enemies with the same mercy, patience, and love we do our friends, we will reflect our God who blessed us even when we were His enemies (Luke 6:27–36).

The sermon transitions from mercy to personal accountability. Our forgiveness of others is tied to God's forgiveness of us, and our generosity to God's generosity to us. Mercy and self-examination should always precede judgment. We cannot teach or correct with effectiveness if we haven't addressed our own sin first (Luke 6:37–42).

Jesus has presented a description of those who follow Him: they love their enemies and teach with integrity. Only those who have a good heart can act in such a way. A person with a good heart will be able to do these virtuous deeds, just like a good tree produces good fruit (Luke 6:43–45).

Finally, Jesus calls the crowd to general discipleship by teaching them how to receive a good heart: build their lives on Him. Anyone who accepts Him as the foundation of their lives will not be shaken by the hardships of the world. They will remain strong, proving their dependence on Him by obeying what He commands (Luke 6:46–49).

Luke 7:1—8:3 takes a sudden turn and describes Jesus' relationship with the marginalized, including women and Gentiles. He also compares His ministry with that of John the Baptist, pointing out that a godly teacher will be judged unfairly by the fallen world, no matter how righteously they live.
What is the Gospel?
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