Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Luke 6: Choices

Christians have (at least) two ways of looking at the world.  One sees a pre-determined order to events, acknowledging God's sovereignty.  The other emphasizes that a high degree of human self-determination and free will have been written into the fabric of creation.  I have always belonged to the second camp.  In Luke 6, I see Jesus making choices and instructing His followers to do the same.
One of the more intriguing choices that Jesus made was His activity on the Sabbath.  Jesus intentionally opted to flout the traditional interpretation of Sabbath laws as they were observed in his century, while maintaining that He was really following their original intent.  For instance, Jesus allowed His disciples to "harvest" grain on the Sabbath (really picking some ripe heads of grain and immediately eating them.)  When confronted by the moral police, Jesus laid claim to being the Lord of the Sabbath.  Interesting defense to say the least!  At many other points, Jesus goes out of His way to heal on the Sabbath.  My reading of Luke 6:8 indicates that Jesus was the one who initiated the healing of the man with the shriveled hand at the synagogue, rather than the man coming to Jesus for help.  Regardless, Jesus argues that the Sabbath is precisely the right time to do good works, rather than no works at all.

Speaking of intriguing choices, how about the 12 men that Jesus called to be His disciples?  There are some fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot, and one who would become a traitor.  These choices may have looked foolish in the world's eyes, but Jesus knew what He was doing.  These became the men who would turn the world upside-down for Christ!

The Sermon on the Plain (as opposed to the similar-sounding Sermon on the Mount we find in Matthew 5-7) is an opportunity for Jesus to challenge the choices being made by His followers.  The "Blessings and Woes" section (like the Beatitudes) cause us to examine what we are really chasing after in life.  Jesus goes on to tell us to choose to love our enemies, to forgive, and to give.  Finally, the point is made pretty clear in the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders that everyone who hears Jesus' words has a choice about what he or she will do with them.  Do nothing, and you're like a foolish man who builds his house on sand.  Put them into practice, and you're like a wise man who builds his house on rock.  

The choice is up to you.

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