Stuck at home with nothing to do? It’s never been better time to binge read about the life and teachings of Jesus. I’ve made it so easy and interesting with the the The Life and Teachings of Jesus 2020 Reading Plan. So turn off the TV and open your Bible and your heart to Jesus.
The Life and Teachings of Jesus – Week 14 – April 6-10:
Monday – Mark 3:7-12 (Luke 6:17-19): With His life threatened by the religious and political leaders, “Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the sea” (v. 7). Nevertheless, the crowds of commoners flocked to Jesus. From every corner of Israel and beyond, they came seeking a miraculous healing. It was a massive response. We must remember that people who have traveled far will not be denied. There were hordes followed by hordes, wave upon wave of needy people each clamoring for Jesus’ attention. So great was the press that the Savior was in physical danger, “And He told His disciples to have a boat ready for Him because of the crowd, lest they crush Him” (v. 9). Jesus’ aim was not notoriety, especially from demons (vv. 11-12), but to serve those who most needed His healing touch.
Picture yourself there as part of the crowd, describe what you see, smell, and hear as you look out over the mass of humanity. How do you picture Jesus interacting with each person He came into contact with?
Tuesday – Luke 6:12-16 (Mark 3:13-19; Matt. 10:1-4): Escaping the thronging crowds, our Lord sought the peace of a mountaintop to pray to the Father. Luke begins by informing us that, “Jesus went out to the mountain to pray, and all night He continued in prayer to God” (v. 12). A monumental decision laid ahead and prayer was His first course of action. At daybreak, Jesus descended from the mountain and chose twelve men from among His followers, naming them apostles (v. 13). The number of twelve apostles signifies a mission to the twelve tribes of Israel (cf. Matthew 10:1; 1 Corinthians 15:5). Also, Jesus chose a band of disciples that was in some respects diverse to reach all Israel and beyond. From fishermen, to a tax collector, to a revolutionary zealot, and the others in between, our Lord selected common, non-aristocratic men to represent Him and His gospel. Later, Jesus will send these twelve men out to “to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal” (Luke 9:2). Together, excluding Judas Iscariot, this rag-tag group of men would become the foundation of the church (Ephesians 2:20).
The call of Jesus Christ brought together a diverse background of personalities, yet they had to work together for the sake of the gospel. How has Christ called you to work with people that are not like yourself for the sake of the gospel? Are there still people, or personality types, you can’t seem to work with? Pray about it.
Wednesday – Luke 6:20-26 (Matt. 5:2-12): Following the selection of the twelve apostles, Jesus instructs His disciples – the twelve and the larger community of disciples from which they were chosen – in behaviors that uniquely distinguish Christians. Much shorter than Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Luke’s Sermon on the Plain (v. 17) is a sampling of the ethic expected of those who heed the call to follow Jesus. Not a treatise for the crowds on what one must do to enter the kingdom of God (cf. Matthew 5:1), but rather on what is expected of the disciples who are already in the kingdom (v. 20). Through four parallel blessings and woes, Jesus cuts through socio-economic expectations of His and our day.
According to Jesus, who is blessed, and why? Who is cursed, and why?
Thursday – Luke 6:27-36 (Matt. 5:43-48; 7:12): In one word, describe the essence of following Jesus. LOVE. Perhaps to signal its importance, the love discourse in Luke contains symmetry, repletion and parallelism. What Jesus teaches about love is addressed specifically to His followers. The over aching command, “Love your enemies” (v. 27), and the commands that spring from this, are non-intuitive, they may not seem reasonable and they enjoin behaviors that do not come naturally. First in vv. 27-28, we are given four imperatives: love, do, bless, and pray. Second, the four actions of vv. 27-28 are followed by four specific behaviors in vv. 29-30. Third, at the center of the summary principle, “As you wish that others would do to you, do so to them” (v. 31). Fourth, vv. 32-34 set forth three negative behaviors in contrast to the teachings on love in the foregoing verses. Lastly, Jesus completes His teaching on love by repeating, “Love your enemies” (v. 35a), coupled with a reward (v. 35b). However, the reward is not material but a behavior rooted in the imitation of God which is the greatest reward of all (v. 36).
Jesus’ high standards for His followers grate against our “me-first” human nature. How can this passage give you hope that you can maintain His standards?
Friday – Luke 6:37-42 (Matt. 7:1-6): Rarely misquoted, but almost always misapplied, “Judge not, and you will not be judged” is a worn out Bible verse by unbelievers and believers alike. “Judge not” is not a command to refrain from ethical evaluations or spiritual discernments. Rather, in its Lukan context, this is nothing but the command to love one’s enemies restated negatively. Just as our merciful God does not predetermine who will or will not be the recipients of His kindness, Jesus calls for His followers to refuse to “judge” who might be the recipients of their gracious love. The result is that God will lavishly and abundantly repay those who are generous with their judgment free love. “For with what measure you use it will be measured back to you” (v. 38).
If you followed Jesus’ guidelines in judging others, what positive and negative effects might it have on your relationships?