28 January 2021Luke 6:17-31
Do to others as you would have them do to you. (v. 31)
In yesterday's Bible passage (Luke 6.12-16), we heard about the first two steps towards establishing a new phase in Jesus’ ministry (private prayer and the appointment of the 12 apostles). This is now followed by a decisive third step. Jesus and the 12 make a formal entrance on a level plain, to be met by a great crowd from all over Palestine, eager to hear Jesus and touch him. He attends to the needs of ordinary people and their everyday experience. That is now to be the focus. God’s power to heal flows through Jesus to signal God’s concern for their wellbeing, their peace and joy.
Jesus then sets out his stall for all who will side with him and follow his lead. He expounds two themes.
In verses 20-26 Jesus turns the accepted order upside down. Transformation of social, economic and political interests is the measure of God’s unparalleled presence in Jesus. To the poor and hurting, he offers congratulations ("Blessed are you") for joyful gifts galore are already beginning to enrich their lives.To the rich and powerful, he has a sombre declaration of misfortune to come ("Woe to you"). They have had their fill. It is clear that Jesus and God’s kingdom mean change, always and everywhere.
In verses 27-30, Jesus says, like him, the disciples must live in a particular way, to embody the love of God’s presence within them. They must absorb any aggression that their witness provokes, never returning like for like, but speak and act out of love alone. They must deal generously with the neediest and with the threatening people they encounter.
In verse 31 Jesus offers a simple test of how to behave, which is sometimes called ‘The Golden Rule’. If you want to know what love for your neighbour entails, ask yourself what you would want them to do for you if you were in their place. Make that the measure of your generosity towards them.
- We need to keep critically under review even marvellous treasures such as our families and the Church, to seek God’s reforming challenges. Where are the wells of creative change in your congregation? And what are the blockages to change? How do people see your own contribution?
- It can be hard patiently to absorb the everyday ridicule of Christian convictions, or people speaking dismissively of the Church. But in some parts of the world Christians face daily harassment and persecution. Why do we know or care so little about the cost of discipleship for Christians worldwide today? What can we do to correct that?