The Gospel of Luke - Part 20: The Lord's Perspective - Luke 6:20-26

(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)


Review:

This morning we continue in Luke Chapter 6. Remember we broke this chapter into five sections:

Lessons in Lordship
The Lord’s Sabbath6:1-11
The Lord's Apostles6:12-19
The Lord's Perspective6:20-26
The Lord's Love6:27-38
The Lord's Disciples6:39-49

Two weeks ago we covered The Lord’s Sabbath.
Last week we finished The Lord’s Apostles.

The take-away from last week is that even Jesus prayed long and hard before deciding whom to choose as the Twelve Apostles. We need to pray long and hard about, and before any significant decision in our lives.

There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. --Proverbs 14:12
The only way we can know which road to take is prayer, searching the Bible for advice and the advice of strong fellow believers.

Remember that we also noted that there are  "small-a"  apostles, other than the Twelve "capital-A Apostles", and perhaps even today there are apostles, but without having personally accompanied Jesus from his baptism to his resurrection, as the Twelve had.  Remember that Paul and Barnabas and others were referred to as apostles.

In that section we also saw that Judas was an Apostle and then fell into the grasp of Satan.  Perhaps that should keep us mindful that being a follower of Jesus does not give us a vaccination against Satan and falling for his traps.

After the selection of the Twelve, Jesus showed his compassion by healing many of the large crowd. Compassion is important to Jesus; it needs to be an important part of our lives as His followers.

The Lord's Perspective - Luke 6:20-26

As I mentioned last week, we are spending a lot of time on Chapter 6. There are a couple of reasons. One is that this is a long chapter -- 50 verses. But the more important reason is that Jesus teaches us a lot in this chapter, a lot of very important stuff, so we will take as long as we need. These are not just words for us to read or even information for us to know; these are truths for us to live.

The Lord’s will is that being His disciple is a transformational experience. That means that His plan is to change us, to make us more like Him and less like the world. And we see that in His teaching.

When we look at what Jesus says in verses 20-38 this week, notice how Jesus modeled all these teachings for us. When Jesus told us to love our enemies, we know that Jesus modeled this for us. When Jesus said, “pray for those who mistreat you”, we remember how He prayed on the cross for those who crucified Him. Other qualities mentioned in this passage - mercy, forgiveness, love, generosity and so on - are all illustrated in the life of Jesus.

Rick Warren is the founder and pastor of Saddleback Church in California.  He started that church with one family in his home in 1980. Today they have over 50,000 on the roll and over 16,000 attend service each weekend. It is recognized as the largest church in the Southern Baptist convention. He says: "Changed lives are a church's greatest advertisement."

D. L. Moody was a great Christian writer and missionary at the end of the 19th century. He established the Northfield Schools in Massachusetts. And the Moody Church and Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. He once said, "The Bible was not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives."

As we get into this section, let’s not just study this passage; let’s take these teachings to heart and pray that the Holy Spirit will bring about real, deep and lasting changes in our lives.

And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way. --Luke 6:20-26
What are some things you notice as you read these verses?  This is a lot like the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount.

Some scholars believe that Luke 6:20-49 is Luke's record of the Sermon on the Mount.  However others point to the difference -- in particular, the description of where this message took place.

Matthew’s “Sermon on the Mount” states that Jesus “went up on the mountain” to speak.

When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. --Matthew 5:1
However, Luke says here that Jesus “stood on a level place” when He spoke.
Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place; and there was a large crowd of His disciples, and a great throng of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon... --Luke 6:17
It may be that Jesus gave similar messages to different audiences at different times during His three-year ministry. Or this may be Luke’s report of the same event. Jesus may have come down the mountain, and then perhaps went back up a little ways to a flat spot to use as a speaking platform. I don’t know for sure and I don’t think it matters. There is so little difference in the Matthew account and the Luke account that I choose to think it is the same event.

Though briefer, Luke does include some things Jesus said that Matthew omitted in his account. Luke 6:20-26 parallels Matthew 5:1-12, which is called the “Beatitudes”.  This passage drives home the truth of Isaiah 55:8,9

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
     Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    So are My ways higher than your ways,
    And My thoughts than your thoughts. --Isaiah 55:8,9
Perspective is defined as “a point of view, a way of looking at something”.   Dale Galloway founded the New Hope Community Church in Portland and then for many years trained pastors around the country. He is now the Dean of the Beeson International Center for Biblical Preaching and Church Leadership, one of the schools of Asbury Theological Seminary.   He tells the story:
There's a story about three men who were visiting the Grand Canyon for the first time -- an artist, a pastor, and a cowboy. As they stood together at the edge of the massive abyss, the artist acclaimed, "What a beautiful scene to paint." The pastor waved his arms in sweeping gestures and preached, "What a wonderful example of the magnificent handiwork of Father God." Then the old cowboy grumbled, "What a terrible place to lose a cow." (Dale E. Galloway)
That’s the power of perspective! How we see life determines how we respond. Jesus is teaching the disciples to see life from His perspective. Consider how different God's perspective is from the world's:

Blessed - this is a key word in this passage. Used four times here, 30 times in the Gospels, 50 times in the whole of the New Testament. It is the Greek word μακαριος [makarios]. Originally in Greek usage, the word described the happy estate of the gods above earthly sufferings and labors. Later it came to mean any positive condition a person experienced. Unlike the biblical authors, the Greek authors drew happiness from earthly goods and values

F.F. Bruce was a professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at the University of Manchester in the late 20th century. He said “Jesus takes this word “happy” and puts it in this rich environment. This is one of the words which have been transformed and ennobled by New Testament use; by association, as in the Beatitudes, with unusual conditions, accounted by the world miserable, or with rare and difficult.”

Jesus says people are blessed (more than happy; they are experiencing God’s favor and blessing) if they are poor, hungry, weeping, hated.

How could these people possibly be called blessed?  Verse 20 is the key:

...for yours is the kingdom of God. --Luke 6:20
They are blessed not because of their physical condition but because of their spiritual condition. The world doesn't see things that way, does it? The world says physical blessings are the key to happiness; God says spiritual blessings are the real key to happiness.

This passage especially emphasizes that it is better to be ostracized, even hated, because I am a disciple of the Lord Jesus, than to be popular with people and out of fellowship with God.

Whose friendship, whose approval, whose acceptance is more important to you - God's or people's?

Then Jesus says

“But woe to you who are rich...” --Luke 6:24
The world says people are happy (blessed) if they are rich, well fed, laughing, and spoken well of, but Jesus says those people should mourn (“woe to you...”) because their values are rooted in this world rather than eternity:

Luke is going to tell us later in his book about a rich man, whom God admonished as follows.

But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. --Luke 12:20-21
Paul tells us:
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. --1 Timothy 6:17
And Jesus warned the Church at Laodicea:
Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked... --Revelation 3:17
Fleming Rutledge, a noted Episcopal Priest says: "The life of thankfulness—biblically speaking—is lived in view of the hard things of existence. As the life of thanksgiving deepens, we discover that the more mature prayers of thanksgiving are not those offered for the obvious blessings, but those spoken in gratitude for obstacles overcome, for insights gained, for lessons learned, for increased humility, for help received in time of need, for strength to persevere, for opportunities to serve others."

What kind of “riches” are you pursuing, the riches that will burn or the riches that will last for eternity? This is not a matter of how you make your living but what you give your life to.

The Lord's Love - 6:27-38

But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” --Luke 6:27-38

Whom does Jesus tell us to love in this passage? - Love your enemies.

But - Notice that each time Jesus gives this command we have this word “but”, indicating a contrast. That’s because what Jesus was saying is not the world’s way.

How do you treat people who treat you badly? What are some natural responses to someone who wrongs us?

Jesus doesn’t tell us just to tolerate our enemies or be nice to our enemies; He tells us to love our enemies. That means that He expects you to love the difficult people in your life - at home, at work, at church, wherever we are.

Stuart Briscoe, the retired pastor of Elmbrook Church in suburban Milwaukee tells us, writing about the Sermon on the Mount:

Love is one of the most talked about and least understood subjects in our society today. I'm convinced that the reason our world is in such difficulty can be traced to this basic misunderstanding of what love is all about. Apparently this was true in Jesus' day as well... Christian love is totally different from the world's concept of love. It is unique.
John Stott, British pastor and author, writing about the Sermon on the Mount says,
Someone has observed that love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.
Jesus says to love the poor.
“Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. --Luke 6:20
Most likely, Jesus is talking here about giving to the poor, such as beggars who would ask for money. In fact, the same Greek word for “ask” used here is translated “beg” in Acts:
And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. --Acts 3:2
There are more references to the poor in Luke than any other Gospel; almost as many in Luke as in the other three Gospels combined. Jesus cares about the poor and he expects us to as well.

Jesus also tells us to love those who love you.

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. --Luke 6:32
Jesus doesn’t really command this here, does He?

No, He assumes it! We should love those who love us - our family, our friends. Even the world does this.

Paul emphasizes this truth in this way:

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. --1 Timothy 5:8
What are some different things we have a responsibility to provide for our own families? Jesus has a lot more to tell us about whom we are to love, but that will have to wait until next week. I am going to stop here for today. The next section, which deals with The Lord’s Love will fit better with next week’s lesson.

Our life would be a lot happier, more blessed, if we used God’s scale for what matters and what is blessed, rather than man’s. Maybe this week you can think about that each morning and see if the day does not go better.

Next week:

...we will finish

Read Chapter 6 again to prepare.