Sunday School 01 12 2014

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“Living as God’s People”

Lesson Text: Luke 6:12, 13, 17-31

Background Scripture: Luke 6:12-49

Devotional Reading:Matthew 18:21-35

 

Luke 6:12, 13, 17-31 (KJV)

12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. 

13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom he also named apostles;

............

17 And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases;              18 And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed.

19 And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.                                                                                                         20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.                                                                                                      21 Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed be ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.                                                                                                              22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.                                                                                                                              23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.                                                        24 But woe unto you that are rich! For ye have received your consolation.

25 Woe unto you, that are full! For ye shall hunger.  Woe unto you that laugh now! For ye shall mourn and weep.                                                                                     26 Woe unto you, when  all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets.                                                                                                                  27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,

28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.                                                   30 Give to every man that asketh of thee: and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.                                                                                                               31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

 

OBJECTIVES

To emphasize that love is the hallmark of Jesus’ followers.  

To know the significance of prayer (getting strength and direction from God), prior to meeting the needs of others.  To know how Jesus expects us as His followers to respond when we meet opposition and hurtful challenges.

To prayerfully examine our conduct as God’s people.

 

INTRODUCTION

Cheek-Turning

   The followers of Ghandhi’s teaching in the 1982 movie “Ghandi” believed that the best way for India to win independence from the British was through nonviolent means. Mohandas Ghandi, the leader of this independent movement, had read the teachings of Jesus and seized on some of them to develop his philosophy of nonviolence. Chief among these was the instruction of Jesus to literally turn the other cheek after being struck (see Luke 6:29, today’s lesson).

   If Jesus was talking about the Christian’s proper response to an insult rather than how to react to the kind of bodily assault that can result in serious injury, then Ghandi’s application of Jesus’ teaching is open to question.  Even so, we appreciate Ghandi and others who have advocated nonviolence.  As we do, we take care to understand Jesus’ teachings in this regard within the larger context of his message, a focus of this week’s lesson.

 

LESSON BACKGROUND

Time:A.D. 28

Place:probably a plateau near Capernaum

Author:Luke

   One of the most famous blocks of teaching in history is Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 5-7. Much of the material in that sermon is found in the other Gospels, and an example of that is in Luke 6, today's text.

   The setting of today’s text, in Luke 6:12 says, Jesus “continued all night” on a mountainside praying to God prior to selecting 12 of His followers for special assignment as apostles, and then Jesus went on to heal many people (Luke 6:13-19). Here Jesus shows us the importance of seeking God’s face prior to trying to meet the needs of others on our own strength. If our Lord and Savior Jesus needed time to be alone with the Father during his busyness (see Luke 5:15, 16), so must we!

    After that, Jesus came down from the mountainside with His disciples. In all probability, the “plain” on which Jesus stood was in the midst of a more mountainous region (v. 17). This observation has prompted some to suggest that the message Jesus delivered in verses 20-49 (traditionally known as the Sermon on the Plain) is an abridgment of the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 5-7. Admittedly, experts remain undecided about the precise nature of the relationship between these two passages. Be that as it may, all agree there are literary and thematic parallels between Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts. For example, both sermons begin with the Beatitudes and end with the lesson on the builders.

   In any case, we should approach Luke’s Sermon on the Plain in its own right. Delivered during Jesus’ first general tour of Galilee (Luke 4:44), Jesus’ popularity was rising as large crowds flocked to Him (as in today's lesson). But opposition was also rising, as we saw last week.

 

HOW TO SAY IT

Mohandas Gandhi - Mow-hun-daws Gawn-dee

Tyre – Tire

 

The Power of Prayer (Luke 6:12, 13)

1. Why was it important for Jesus to withdraw to pray? (Luke 6:12, 13)

   Now Jesus seeks solitude so that He may have uninterrupted time for prayer. Jesus often withdraws for the purpose of prayer (Mark 1:35: 6:46, Luke 5:16, etc.), but this is the only occasion in the Gospels where we read of Jesus spending “all night” for this purpose. Luke intends to present Jesus as a man of prayer (see Luke 9:18; 11:1, 22:41). As mentioned in the lesson background, Jesus was praying to God prior to selecting 12 of His followers for special assignment as apostles, and then He went on to heal many people (Luke 6:13-19). Jesus was showing His disciples (as well as us) the importance of seeking God’s face prior to trying to meet the needs of others on our own strength. If even our Lord and Savior Jesus needed time to be alone with the Father to recoup (see Luke 5:15, 16), so must we!

 

Healing Many People (Luke 6:17-19)

2. What was the setting when Jesus came down from the mountain? (Luke 6:17-19)

     As Jesus and His newly appointed 12 descend from the mountain, they encounter a sizeable group of His disciples. Additionally, there were many people who came from at least 100-mile radius to listen to Jesus teach and experience His restorative power (Luke 5: 17). In particular, these individuals originated from all around Judea, Jerusalem, and the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon. Jesus set people free from their unclean spirits (6:18). Also, many others wanted to experience the power of His healing touch (v. 19).

 

Pronouncing a Series of Blessings (Luke 6:20-23)

3. How did Jesus define true blessings? (Luke 6:20-23)

   The Greek adjective rendered “blessed” (Luke 6:20) conveys the idea of being the privileged recipient of God’s favor. Jesus’ various declarations of blessedness are commonly called the Beatitudes. This term comes from the word beati, which is used in the Vulgate, an important Latin translation of the Bible. In short, the word refers to a state of bliss. Jesus pronounced His first blessing on those who were “poor.” On one level, this could denote material poverty, while on another level, the reference could include spiritual lack (see Matt. 5:3). The second option would be a reference to humility. Expressed differently, there are believers who have been stripped of their own securities and thus feel deeply their need for God. The Savior’s redemption, not their own goodness, is the basis for their citizenship in heaven.

   Luke 6:21 targets those who “hunger now.” Perhaps both the physical and spiritual aspects of the believer’s life are in view (see Matt. 5:6). These would be individuals who longed for righteousness and whose, yearnings would be one day “filled” or satisfied (Luke 6:21). The attitude is one of desiring God above all things and seeking to be in a right relationship with Him and others. While greed, injustice, and violence consume the unsaved, believers desired justice and goodness to be established. Jesus also made reference to those who “weep now” and pledged that one day they would “laugh.” Matthew 5:4 indicates that “they that mourn” do so because they know they have transgressed against the Lord. Also, they cry in confession and repentance, which are a reflection of their humble spirit. These believers do not look to the world for satisfaction, joy, or comfort. Rather, they find these things in the Savior alone. They come to Jesus in humility and faith, confessing their sins, and He enters their lives and stays there with the sweet assurance of His forgiveness.

   In Luke 6:22, Jesus declared God’s blessing on believers who were hated, excluded, insulted, and rejected by pagans. The maltreatment Jesus’ followers experienced was due to their unwavering commitment to Him, the “Son of Man.” Likewise, in Matthew 5:11, Jesus taught that when believers stand up for truth, righteousness, and goodness, they will be slandered and insulted. Jesus gave two reasons His harassed followers could accept their circumstances with an attitude of joy (Matt. 5:12; Luke 6:23). First, they ought to realize that their eternal reward will exceed their wildest expectations. Second, they can remember that God’s enemies also mistreated His prophets (see Neh. 9:26).

 

Proclaiming a Succession of Woes (Luke 6:24-26)

4. What were the woes that Jesus warned about? (Luke 6:24-26)

    The designation woe comes from the Greek word that begins each one, literally “ouai”.  This is an expression of wailing, used in times of extreme distress, or as a warning of pending disaster (Isaiah 5:8; Revelation 8:13).  The effect is the opposite of a blessing; it warns of coming ruin.

   Jesus’ sermon contains two lists-the first a list of blessings, and the second a list of woes (Luke 6:20-26). These lists match up item for item, and together they overturned widely accepted beliefs among Jews in Jesus’ day. For example, wealth and social success were considered signs of God’s favor, while poverty and hardship were considered signs of divine disfavor. However, too often wealth and social success were achieved by exploiting others. Obviously, God’s favor had nothing to do with it.

   In view of the preceding observations, we can understand better why Jesus would pronounce “woe” or condemnation on those who were materially “rich” (v. 24), though spiritually impoverished. The “consolation” or comfort they obtained from their vast possessions was all they could expect to receive. Similarly, those who were presently satiated with food, while being unrighteous in their ways, would one day experience hunger (v. 25). At the moment, evildoers preoccupied themselves with laughter, but in a future day, they would be filled with sorrow. Right now, the lost reveled in obtaining praise from the crowd, but a time was coming when they would experience God’s censure (then they will “mourn and weep”). Jesus said “woe” to you when “all men” speak well of you, and to remember that such acclaim also was heaped on the false prophets in Israel's history (compare Jeremiah 14:13; Micah 2:11). We should not think that Jesus is condemning anyone who is popular with the public merely because of that fact. Jesus, himself has received a favorable report by many (see Luke 4:14, 15). What Jesus denounces, rather, is the person who compromises truth for the sake of popularity (as did the false prophets). Those who proclaim God's truths without compromise are more likely to be shunned than accepted in the public arena.  The false prophets were welcomed, because they said what the people wanted to hear (see Jeremiah 5:31).

 

Showing Unconditional Love (Luke 6:27-30)

5. What were the four imperative commands that Jesus taught His followers?  (Luke 6:27, 28)

   Jesus now moves from four blessings and four woes to four commands to those desiring to be His disciples: love, do good, bless, and pray for. What makes Jesus' teaching startling is that the objects of these actions are those who should least receive them according to the way people normally think. We easily love those who love us, but our enemies? We do good things for our loved ones, but for those who hate us? We bless our friends in many ways, but those who curse us? We willingly pray for those we care about, but for our abusers? Even so, Proverbs 25:21 indicates that Jesus' teaching in this regard is nothing new.

6. How do we know that Jesus meant the actions of love more than the emotions?(Luke 6:29-31)  

   Now Jesus follows the four commands with real-life illustrations. Slapping can be an act of violence, but in Jesus' world it is an insult. When we are insulted for our allegiance to Jesus, we should not retaliate in kind. Within the context of verse 29, Jesus was indicating that His followers were not to seek restitution (see Isa. 50:6). When someone steals our cloak (outer garment), the robber should also be allowed to have our coat (inner garment). We are to exhibit generous behavior, always ready to give to others without expecting repayment. Within the context of verse 30, Jesus was not commanding His disciples to give endless amounts of money to everyone who sought it (see Prov. 11:15; 17:18; 22:26). Rather, He was talking about being generous to the poor (see Deut. 15:7-11; Ps. 112:5, 9).

   In brief, Jesus was stressing the importance of being more concerned about eternal matters than temporal matters. For example, the creaturely comfort and respect a believer had was less important than bringing glory to God. Likewise, ensuring that one never was insulted or taken advantage of was less important than heeding God’s Word. Furthermore, preserving one’s material wealth was not as crucial as helping other people in need. At issue here was being just and merciful. Instead of demanding their rights, Jesus’ disciples were to give them up freely.

   The command to do unto others (including abusers or enemies) as you would have them do unto you (v. 31), shows an act of love to be displayed to others far beyond the ordinary display of love. We call this expression the Golden Rule: we should treat others as we want to be treated. Jesus is not teaching political philosophy, but He is teaching a way of life that must be practiced by His followers, if we are to help change the lives of others (which is our underlying Christian imperative).

What Do You Think?

   What are some practical ways you can put biblical principles into practice with regard to the Golden Rule?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

   Romans 14:3; 15:1, 2; 1 Corinthians 8:13; Philippians 2:3, 4; Hebrews 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9

   Other

 

POINTS TO PONDER

1. If Jesus our Lord and Savior needed to withdraw from others at times to regain strength and get direction, so must we. (Luke 5:15, 16; 6:12, 13).

2. When Jesus came down from the mountain He was not just a new Moses who was presenting a new law. Instead, Jesus utterly transcended Moses as the Lord of the new covenant. He took time to heal many needy people. This was a demonstration of both His power and His compassion. (Luke 6:17-19).

3.As followers of Christ we need not only to understand the consequences of blessings and woes, but also live as God’s people. (Luke 6:20-26).

4.This is what true Christian love does-it defies all the bitterness and hatred in the world. It also sweeps aside all the barriers that separate people. Because Jesus makes a difference in our social relationships, Christians can extend the love of God to others (Luke 6:27-31).       

 

CONCLUSION   

Golden- Rule Living

   I have, from time to time, been rude or abrupt in return to a salesperson, or a clerk who treated me poorly or disrespectfully. Poor service should not be rewarded, I rationalize in my self-centeredness. I am most successful in overcoming my own rude behavior when I realize that I am breaking Jesus’ “Golden Rule”, and in so doing, I am disobeying a central command of my Lord, a crucial command or guide to living when responding to others in a rude manner.

   Life presents an unending variety of situations that challenges us to react as Jesus would have us to.  What do we do when we are slandered by a fellow employee? What do we do when someone posts a disrespectful comment on our Facebook Wall? What do we do when we interact with one of life’s army of rude people? There is no catalog that lists detailed responses for every possible unpleasant encounter.  However, we can always apply the Golden Rule.  In so doing, we fulfill the law of our Lord; we will be happier, more peaceful as a result.

PRAYER

   Heavenly Father, we are thankful that You do not treat us as we deserve as sinners.  Help us act toward others in the gracious way You treat us. In Jesus’ name, amen.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER

   Make love your first response.

 


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