Friday, January 10, 2014

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday January 12, 2014

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(JESUS calls us to love)
(Luke 6:17-49)

The passage of Luke chapter six, verses 17-49, is the short version of JESUS’ famous “Sermon on the Mount” that is also recorded by the Apostle Matthew in chapters 5-7 of his Gospel account.  Both accounts begin with the “Beatitudes” and end with the parable of “how we can build our spiritual foundation on the Most High Faith”. In Luke’s account, however, he omits the “Jewish parts” concerning the interpretation of the Law that Matthew’s account so thoroughly includes. Nevertheless, this approach works well with Luke’s purpose and intent, as his Gospel account is aimed mostly at converting the Gentiles to CHRIST.
JESUS begins HIS famous sermon with a series of blessings that have come to be known, the world over, as “The Beatitudes”. Here in Luke’s account, these beatitudes are followed by a series of “woes”, and he only includes a partial list (four) of the total number of beatitudes that appear in Matthew’s account, where there are eight. The four woes that follow, parallel in contrast, to the four Beatitudes, that, precede them.
In the New Testament Greek, the word used for “blessed” in makarios (mak-ar-ee-os), and it means “to be indwelt by GOD, and thereby, fully satisfied”. It is a word that occurs in the four Gospels a total of 30 times, and all but two of those instances occur in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
A, beatitude, is an acknowledgement of a fortunate state before man and GOD. In the New Testament, beatitudes have more of an emotional force than in the Old Testament, as they often contrast a “false earthly estimation” with a “true heavenly estimation” of a person who is truly “indwelt” with GOD’s SPIRIT.
In Luke 6:20-23, JESUS speaks of four conditions in which people who follow HIM are blessed:
·        Blessed are those who are poor,
·        Blessed are those who hunger now,
·        Blessed are those who weep now,
·        Blessed are those who are hated, because of HIM.

Here, each instance is amended with a clause that explains why such a person is blessed. And all that the person who is “poor”, “hungry”, “weeping”, or “hated” has to do, is stake their beliefs in CHRIST JESUS.
In verses 24-26 we find four contrasting woes that await those who refuse to give up any and everything to follow JESUS. Those groups can and will likely include;

·        The rich,
·        The well-fed,
·        Those who laugh carelessly,
·        Those who are popular with the world because they do things to please the world, instead of trying to please GOD.

Those people, who refuse to accept JESUS, can expect to receive the exact opposite of what awaits those who follow HIM.
In verses 27-38 JESUS talks about seven aspects of “agape”, or, “unconditional love”. Because of our accepted “sin nature”, or our “desire to want to sin”, these seven things will not automatically be done by man, even though we are all born with GOD’s nature in us. It still requires a “supernatural” interceding by GOD, through the HOLY SPIRIT, to enable us to achieve such a state of righteousness. These seven aspects include;

·        Loving our enemies,
·        Doing good to those who hate us,
·        Blessing those who curse us,
·        Praying for those who mistreat us,
·        Resisting the urge for revenge against those who we feel wronged us,
·        Giving freely without expectation of being paid back,
·        Always treating others the way we ourselves want to be treated (otherwise known as “The Golden Rule”).

In order for us to successfully, and consistently do these things, especially to people that we don’t know or like, one has to be “inspired to love”, by the power of the HOLY SPIRIT of GOD. JESUS wants us to show the same attitude towards each other that GOD HIMSELF displays towards us. This kind of love will set us apart from the world, and allow us to emulate the ways of GOD in Heaven, while living here on earth.
In verses 37-38, JESUS outlines five areas that stand as proof of the “sowing and reaping” theme that so prominently permeates the pages of the Holy Scriptures. Here HE tells us that;

·        Mercy leads to mercy,
·        Judgment leads to judgment,
·        Condemnation leads to condemnation,
·        Pardon will lead to pardon,
·        Giving will lead to giving.

Our actions and attitudes always reflect back on us, and true righteousness is always revealed in our actions and attitudes towards each other. And just as a blind person can’t lead another blind person to safety, and indeed, can’t even hide the fact that they themselves are blind, so it is with the unrighteous.
Our unrighteousness is also revealed in our actions and attitudes. The “unrighteous” can only lead a person into “the dangers and pitfalls of unrighteousness”. We must first, rid ourselves of our own sin before we can help someone else rid themselves of theirs. JESUS points out that, the person who criticizes another person, often has a greater sin than the person that they criticize (Vs. 41-42). The greatest reason why a person can’t (krino) judge another person, is because, we are all, people under the (krino) judgment of GOD. We don’t qualify to condemn another person, because we are all equal in sin, with each other.
And finally, in verses 46-49, JESUS concludes HIS sermon with this warning for us to build our “spiritual foundations” on “The Most High Faith” (Christianity). Here we see JESUS demanding two things. First, HE demands that we “listen”, because the first step towards living a Christian life calls for us to give JESUS a chance to be heard. Secondly, HE demands that we “do”. Knowledge obtained from listening can only become relevant when it is put into action. Knowledge must become action, while theory must become practice, and then, theology can become life.
There is very little point in going to see an expert if you’re not prepared to act upon that expert’s advice. Literally millions of “professed Christians” go to church every weekend, to listen to the teachings of JESUS, and some, as a result, have very good knowledge of what HE says. And yet, time and time again, they walk out of the doors of the church, and fail to put what they have learned, into action. If we are, in any sense, to become followers of CHRIST, we must learn to, first hear, and then, do.
Here in this passage, it is clearly JESUS’s claim, that, obedience to HIM is the only “true foundation”. No one goes to the FATHER, except by JESUS. HE alone, is the way to GOD. In HIM, we see exactly what GOD is like, and only HE, can usher us into GOD’s OWN glorious presence, without fear, without guilt, and, without shame.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander     

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

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