Luke 6:12–49. Jesus Calls Twelve Apostles and Gives Them
Their First Formal Lesson.
Key Notes: A summary of the Twelve and their accomplishments. The basic sermon to the new leaders. Can we obey it?
6:1 Before appointing The Twelve, Jesus went out on the mountain alone and prayed all night. Then He selected
•Peter and Andrew who were brothers.
Andrew was the first home missionary. (Jn.1:40; 6:8; 12:22). He brought people to Jesus.
Peter, among other things, launched the Church on Pentecost, brought the first Gentiles to Christ, and wrote I-II Peter.
•James and John were sons of Zebedee. James was the first martyr. (Acts.12:2). John was the disciple Jesus loved (Jn.13:23). He wrote the Gospel of John, 1–3 John, and Revelation.
•Philip of Bethsaida thought out loud. Jn.6:7; 12:21; 14:9
•Bartholemew was not mentioned again.
•Levi (Matthew) invited his tax-collector friends to hear Jesus (Lk.5:29). He later wrote the Gospel bearing his name.
•Thomas was the doubter but came through with a ringing declaration of Jesus' deity. Jn.14:5; 20:25,28
•James son of Alphaeus was not mentioned again.
•Simon the Zealot was not mentioned again.
•Judas son of James asked a question once. Jn.14:22
•Judas Iscariot became the traitor.
Three (Peter, James and John) would be in the inner circle; four (Andrew, Philip, Thomas and Levi) would make their contribution; four would appear inconsequential, one would be a total loss. Stories of their further lives are the stuff of legend. Why would God not have all winners? How could the world be won with so few, about half of this dozen unlearned men? Would Jesus pray for Judas Iscariot?
6:17 In the midst of a great multitude, many recently healed, He began to teach the Twelve. Whether this is the same occasion as Matthew's Sermon on the Mount (Matt.5–7) has been debated. The two sermons begin and end with the same ideas. However, the slant in Luke is different. Let us assume that Luke records a separate sermon, made at about the same time, in which He recast the material to make a different point, much as speakers today are known to do.
A. Beatitudes. They would be happy when poor, hungry, grieving and persecuted because they would receive their reward in Heaven. Those who were rich, filled, laughing and universally approved had already received their consolation and their situation was to be deplored.
B. Generosity. Picking up the theme of persecution, Jesus commanded that they love, bless and pray for enemies.
They should allow themselves to be struck (insulted) twice.
They should give away more than was asked. No credit was given for the kinds of sharing that comes naturally.
They should imitate God who is kind to the ungrateful and selfish. They must resist the temptation to judge (for example, those who would cause them distress), but should be forgiving and generous.
They would be given back many fold what they had given away--essentially thrown away--on unrewarding and even destructive relationships.
C. In order to do these spiritually demanding exercises, they would need help. They should follow a teacher who knew where He was going (i.e. not blind). They should not think of themselves as better than their teacher but try to become like him. They should also avoid criticizing their fellows (speck in the eye) for sins that beset themselves (plank in the eye).
D. The second help they would need was a new heart. Just as a living tree produces fruit typical of its species, so human beings that are good yield goodness, and those who are evil produce wickedness.
E. The third help they would need was obedience to Him. Saying "Lord, Lord" was an empty phrase without obedience. The disciples who came, heard and obeyed Jesus words would have foundations that the storms of life (trial and temptation) could not shake. Those who heard and did not obey would be swept away by their trials or by God’s final judgment.
Having summarized the content of the Sermon, we must asked how much of it we can obey. It seems impossible and it is easy for us to resist.
• Admittedly it is hard to be happy or joyful when poor, hungry, grieving and persecuted. We are more likely to be grim, frightened and agitated. Oh, to be rich and fat and happy!
• To be even neutral toward enemies is almost impossible, much less to be loving and generous. Being God-like in mercy is out of the question. Judging those who hate us is instinctive. Vengeance comes easily.
• Where can we find a teacher to lead us out of our darkness?
• Can the leopard change its spots? How shall we, accustomed to doing evil, become good?
• Complete obedience to this set of instructions? Impossible.
Since we realize that none of these instructions can be followed, we are entitled to ask why Jesus would lay down such severe demands on these poor men of Israel? Could even His elite Three accept the challenge? Clearly He has put the bar too high for any human being to reach. I suspect He meant to convey this message.
The Door into the Kingdom called "Works" is closed and sealed, with the hinges, hasp and lock on the inside. Jesus has put "Works" into its proper context--impossible. Nevertheless, people of all religions will bang on this door until the end of time to no avail. They will be deluded into thinking that their version of "Works" will be accepted instead of Jesus'.
The Door into the Kingdom called Grace is open; it has no lock. It is a low door, that requires us to enter on our knees. Through it Jesus allows us into the Kingdom and to do what is impossible in ourselves.