Everything Jesus said was true and necessary for our lives, whether earthly or spiritual. When we deviate from that truth we fail and fall. In modern times countless Christians have fallen by the wayside, though most do not even realise it. When Jesus spoke He touched on the deepest parts of our souls and needs; He opposed the Pharisees and what they stood for, but yet had compassion. Jesus, as a man, was a tough character Who was never swayed from His goal. Are we like this?
And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.
And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days?
And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him;
How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone?
And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
Two weeks after Jesus attended a meal with publicans, Jesus again made the Pharisees furious, or, rather, they made themselves furious by being busy-bodies. (When this kind of critic becomes furious, it is not because of something real, but is just an outward expression of inner hatred, which requires the merest flicker to start the fury again; and, often, that flicker is not worthy of criticism anyway. Many who call themselves ‘Christian’ are of this kind).
It was a seventh-day Sabbath, Saturday. Jesus and His disciples (we are not told how many, but they could have been numerous in number) were walking through a corn field to get somewhere. As they walked, they picked a few corn-heads, rubbed them in their hands, and obtained the delicious corn kernels as a snack. This tells us it was at harvest time.
When they reached the edge of the field, the Pharisees, fuming, stood waiting. Some of them demanded: ‘Why are you picking and eating food on a Sabbath, when the law prohibits it?’ For legalists, this constituted ‘work’. The actual occasion did not matter to the Pharisees – they wanted any excuse to accuse Jesus, who was fast becoming ‘Public Enemy Number One’.
Jesus scorned them, by asking ‘What? Surely you know the account of David and his men, who ate showbread meant only for the priests?’ His question rebuked them for having little knowledge. Of course, they already knew the account, but chose not to apply it to this situation. Again, many Christians, arrogantly holding to their own beliefs, will use them to foster their opinions rather than truth, even making others ‘guilty’ of not believing as they do.
When He finished rebuking them, Jesus added “the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.” Without doubt, He referred to Himself as God! By “also” He meant He was Lord of healing and forgiving sins (re the argument He had with the Pharisees two weeks earlier; so it seems some of the ones present at the healing of the man with palsy were also present this day. This strongly implies that some followed Jesus continuously, so as to gather information against Him. In my own ministry I have some who continually read our website, just so as to pick a fight over things said).
Jesus – God – created everything and made all natural laws, which are subject to Himself at all times. God made the seventh-day Sabbath a day of rest, but He can, as Creator, dispense with His own laws made for mankind. Not picking and eating food on a Sabbath was a Pharisaic interpretation of Hebrew law.
Here Jesus was telling them that as Creator He could do as He wished. He was not in the habit of breaking holy laws, and He did not do so here. Instead, He was breaking an humanly-devised interpretation of a holy law that was written to trap and burden mankind with useless demands to satisfy the self-righteous.
We can be left in no doubt that this left the Pharisees more furious than they were already! How dare this preacher question their status and law! Those of us who regularly question man-made laws and humanly devised interpretations of God’s word, know only too well how furious fellow ‘brethren’ can become when their traditions and well-worn human ideas are questioned or denied! Sadly, many just ignore you, while others spread nastiness about you. This is not an excuse to stay silent! We should have no wish to deliberately make others furious, but if this is what happens by speaking the truth, then that is the problem of traditionalists.
And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered.
And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him.
But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth.
Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?
And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.
At least another week later, maybe longer, Jesus entered a synagogue (we do not know where) and began to teach. And yes, the scribes and Pharisees were, once again, also there, ready to pounce on every word and action!
Amongst the congregation was a man with a withered hand; we are not told what caused it to be so. The scribes and Pharisees waited with bated breath and hateful hope to see if Jesus would again ‘break’ sabbath law. Would Jesus heal the man on a Sabbath? How weary the Lord must have been to live with this constant jibing and opposition when He was doing nothing but good!
Jesus knew what was going on in their wicked minds, but called the man with the withered hand to come forward, which he did. We can imagine the scribes and Pharisees almost salivating at the prospect of such a blatant display of lawlessness! Jesus, however, was a master at shutting mouths. Looking at them, He said, ‘Let me ask you just one thing: Which is lawful on a Sabbath – to do good or to do evil? To save a life, or to destroy it?’ The enemy could not answer, because they knew that if they did, their answer would sound bitter and wrong.
The Lord looked around the congregation and the Pharisees before commanding the man to hold out his withered right hand. As soon as he held it out, it was healed. Jesus did not have to say a word, because, as God, it was an action already determined in eternity. His power needs no outward signs or rites.
Any righteous man would have been overjoyed by such a thing, but the scribes and Pharisees were “filled with madness”. They were beside themselves with rage, but had to contain themselves before the congregation, who would otherwise see their inappropriate reactions. The word for ‘madness’ also means to lack understanding and to be foolish. They were ‘filled’ with these sins, and the word includes the idea of fulfilling something – in this case prophecy.
The scribes and Pharisees talked amongst themselves about “what they might do to Jesus”. Their fury knew no bounds. Jesus was preaching truth and could defeat all arguments against Him. So, their thoughts turned to illicit means of silencing Jesus. From that time onward, Jesus was targeted for continual scrutiny, then death.
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.
And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;
Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,
Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes,
And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.
At about the same time that the Pharisees decided they had to get rid of Jesus, He went up a mountain to pray, accompanied by disciples, staying there throughout the night. Jesus knew that the forces of evil were circulating and beginning their murderous activities against Him.
When it was daytime, Jesus called the disciples to him: this shows us that Jesus prayed alone, not in a group. The text tells us that there must have been a fairly large number of them, for out of the larger number Jesus chose just twelve to become His closest followers, those He called ‘Apostles’, and they are all named, including the traitor, Iscariot.
The apostolos were representatives of Jesus, who went forth by His express command. There is a tendency to dismiss the idea of modern apostles. We do well to dismiss the charismatic idea of them, but not the scriptural definition. This is because, according to scripture, an ‘apostle’ can also be men called by God to preach and teach, and whose work is powerful. They are NOT called ‘apostle’ by the people, or by their own selves, but are called by God to be powerful.
Examples in scripture are Barnabas, Paul, Andronicus, Junias, Silas, Timothy, and others. Today, many have referred to themselves as ‘apostles’, but, their abilities do not match such a high calling and claim! In fact, those who assume this title are examples of bad teachers and those who are ‘barbarians’ (untaught).
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;
And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed.
And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.
After choosing the twelve, Jesus went down the mountain with them until they reached the plain. There, they were surrounded by huge crowds of people from a wide area. They came to hear this amazing, powerful preacher, and, of course, to be healed. There were also “they that were vexed with unclean spirits”. Jesus healed them all. It would seem that most of the demons cast out by Jesus were of the unclean type.
In modern days we see a massive proliferation of these demons in the general sexualised population, pornographers, and homosexuals. We cannot doubt that they are all led by unclean demons, and that many of them are possessed.
The crowds milled around Jesus just to touch Him. We read that though He did not speak to many of them as individuals, they were healed simply by touching his clothes or body. We should not take this as a general instruction to heal by allowing people to touch us! The text is an historical report telling us how JESUS acted and what happened when people touched Him. It does not necessarily mean Christians can do the same things.
We are told that “virtue (went) out of him”, and that this virtue healed everyone who touched Him. What is this ‘virtue’? It is the dynamis of Jesus – His power that enabled Him to perform miracles. The word can be used in other circumstances, too, but in this text it refers to the power that resides in Christ because of Who He is. It is not a power humans have automatically. Instead, humans can only have spiritual power if God gives it to them. Thus, it is a gift given by grace and not a ‘virtue’ inherent in the believer.
All believers have the power of Christ, and can speak with His authority, but we should not misconstrue this power, as so many charismatics do. In humans the power of God can manifest in many ways, but always at the behest of the Holy Spirit and not of our own strength or accord. Therefore, the claim by charismatics to call on God, or even to demand of God, power and gifts, is fake. (It therefore follows that any power and gifts they claim are also fake). God gives to whom He will, and in various measures, for specific reasons and purposes. No man can demand them.
And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.
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.
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.
This next batch of verses is often referred to as ‘The Beatitudes’. (The 1611 KJV is the closest to the original, whereas the NIV, for example, says that anyone who is poor is blessed, simply for being poor. When Jesus spoke His words, they had a spiritual meaning, as the context proves).
Many preachers tell their hearers that the Beatitudes were spoken to the large crowd, but this is not what the text says – Jesus was talking specifically to His disciples (apostles and other followers). He was showing them how to live. The small word ‘on’ (‘on his disciples’), eis, is a preposition meaning, in this text, ‘towards’ or ‘unto’. The word denotes direction (e.g. towards the disciples).
This is an important point of fact that should lead the interpretation, for otherwise, like so many Christians, you will start to think the Beatitudes were spoken to the miscellany of people, many of whom may well have been poor (for example). And if Jesus was talking to all and sundry, then just being poor means that people will automatically enter Heaven! This, of course, is nonsense, for there is no virtue in being poor, nor in being rich. Thus, the interpretation must refer ONLY to Christians and not to the generality of persons, as the following examination indicates.
In this way we can say that those who are blessed in this verse are those who are spiritually poor, ptochos (though they may also be physically poor). After all, Jesus said that the poor are with us always, so we should not dwell on that fact, but on Himself and on spiritual growth. Spiritually, it means to simply follow Christ, even without intellectual learning. My own observation reflects that of the text – I find that those who have no cultural or intellectual prowess to boast of, tend to be more careful and better disciples of Christ than others who DO boast of their learning.
Indeed, I find such people refreshing, because theirs is a true faith unhampered by pretention. Whereas the intellectually ‘higher’ pretend to know everything, those who are not so boastful will ask questions and allow themselves to be taught. I find the poor of spirit are far more noble, far more upright, and far more truthful. And this is why Jesus says they, and what they do, are blessed, or happy. This is because God sees their pure hearts and minds and gives them commendation and help.
More than that, Jesus said that believers who are poor of spirit are given the kingdom of God. By this is meant the basileia: royal power in the spiritual reign of the Messiah. It is this power that Paul wished to see in people who profess to be saved, for without evidence of such power, a claimant is false. Therefore, when a man or woman is intellectually untaught, God gives them His own power, which is divinely superior to human learning.
Do not run away with the idea that this means anyone who is taught in God’s word is inferior! Not so. Learning has its place and can be used of God exceptionally. It is not intellectual learning or capacity that matters, but how it is used in the cause of Christ. And when used wisely, it will give humility, not arrogance.
Next, Jesus told His disciples that if they were hungry, they would be filled. Furthermore, we know Jesus was talking only to His disciples because He spoke of their hunger ‘now’, nyn – ‘at this time’, ‘presently’. That is, those disciples who were directly in front of Him when He spoke, who sought zealously after holiness (peinao – to crave after, to seek earnestly). So, the ‘hunger’ is not for food but for spiritual fulfilment from the Lord. This is shown to be the same case in Matthew 5:6 where the hunger is “after righteousness”. For us, today, it applies to all who are hungry for the sustenance given by God to those who seek after Him in humility.
Christians who do so will be filled, chortazo. Their spiritual desire for holiness will be satisfied. As the root, chortos implies, this satisfaction also includes growth or ‘becoming fat’ in God’s grace. Those who “weep”, right now, at the time of Christ on earth, shall be made to laugh.
They weep in mourning for what they lose, or they cry because of exhortations... good counsel when the Pharisees were already hounding them and threatening mayhem. Yet, though at the present these disciples were experiencing grief, they would be enabled to laugh. Thus, they will experience joy, but also will be able to scorn those who treat them badly.
The disciples would also be happy when others revile them (verse 22). Not happy to be cursed or hated, but happy in Christ that they share the hatred shown for Him as Lord. It is not a sacrifice to be so hated, but a badge of honour. The hatred referred to is actual hatred; to be detested, to be chased-after continually so as to be attacked. It is hatred with maliciousness – a desire to hurt others physically or mentally. This is because those who loathe us ‘hate the light’. It is joy to be hated, because they also hated Christ.
The same haters want us dead, or at least cast away from their company. If they cannot harm us, they will just command us to leave them alone. In so doing they will ‘reproach’ us... that is, revile us. Even if we do them good, they will throw it back at us, such is their loathing. Jesus did only good to people, yet even those who experienced such good became enemies of the Messiah.
They will gladly and easily speak evil of you; they delight to spread bad rumours and to bring down your good name. (Note how present day homosexuals call us wicked and bad, so that others will finally believe their accusations and also treat us badly). We must be glad and accept it all, because it is for the “Son of man’s sake”. We must endure so that the name of Christ is upheld and praised by our actions and words.
Jesus tells His disciples to “leap for joy” when the wicked thus harm or attack them, for the very attacks prove their place with Christ, and He will reward them in Heaven for their faithfulness. Of course, whatever Jesus said to the disciples who were physically with Him, also applies to us in our day, for we are all believers. After all, Jesus reminded them, wicked people did exactly the same things to Old Testament prophets. From this we know that all true prophets or preachers/teachers will become targets of hate and lies. If they are not similarly attacked, then there may be a reason to think of them as faithless or lukewarm.
But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.
Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
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.
Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
The last few verses spoke of blessings; now, Jesus speaks of warnings. “woe unto you that are rich!” Does this mean that people who work hard and earn wealth are not blessed? It cannot mean that. So, what does it mean? The word ‘rich’, plousios, can refer to physical wealth, but it also refers to people who have abundant Christian virtues and eternal ‘goods’. Why should a man receive a warning for being rich in either physical wealth or spiritual wealth? “Woe” is alas, a cry of grief, or even of denunciation. The latter appears to be the interpretation in this verse.
Those who have these riches have “received (their) consolation”. That is, they are quite comfortable with their lot. So, what is this denunciation about? The denunciation is not about those with spiritual wealth – for such wealth is a commendation. Rather, it is about earthly riches. The riches themselves are not wrong, but to trust in them and the earthly power they bring, is sinful.
Jesus warns them that to trust in their riches, or to accrue wealth and extra for their own comfort, is the road to lack of faith. I can assure Christians that the sudden loss of income and then everything you have accrued, is a shock that propels many people ‘over the edge’, especially when it leads to creditors circling like ravenous wolves, and onlookers laughing in derision! Woe to those who fail to see that their wealth is temporary and can be removed at any time!
A similar warning is given to those who are “full” – they have sufficient and more for their earthly lives, and this fullness tends to make them feel more comfortable than they should, as if it will never end. The term ‘full’ also implies searching for things that satisfy, other than God. This can be anything from sports to money, cultural efforts to learning. Whatever takes us from God makes us ‘full’ and therefore reluctant to consider the holy things of eternity. Very often, God looks at His people and will bring them down if they take their eyes off Him. Anything they gathered for themselves will be taken away; when once they were full, they will become hungry and empty.
And those who find it easy to laugh will know how to mourn and weep. The laughter here is not the innocent laughter of happy people, but the scornful laughter of those who are derisory towards others. They laugh at another’s fall, thinking it funny, and laugh in scorn so as to influence others to think of us as idiots. God will show them what it is like, by bringing their own lives to the very edge of loss and shame. We must never laugh at people in this way, for God watches and will perhaps show us what it is like to be scorned in our own lives. Only ‘holy scorn’ is acceptable.
Jesus has already alluded to the way that Jewish forefathers hated the true prophets. In verse 26, he speaks of the opposite – false prophets who are praised, just as happened in their Jewish past. Jesus warns believers about striving to be loved by everyone by avoiding truth. Today, many pastors have their eye on their incomes when they speak. They will avoid matters that will make their hearers angry; they will not teach the whole truth because it might upset their peers; they know that if they deliver well-managed sermons they can catch the eye of those they consider to be ‘higher up’. I have found, to my cost, that being praised is as nebulous as the wind!
It cannot be denied that to hear people praise you can be flattering. It massages the ego! But, I have had too many ‘praisers’ who later turned out to be haters! Nowadays I inwardly cringe when I hear praise for myself and ask the one praising to praise God instead. This is not affectation or some kind of hidden pride. It is genuine. Whatever is good or worthy is from God, not me. I am only the conduit through which the Holy Spirit works at times. There is no worth in me as a person.
Sadly, too many accept praise as if it were fuel, causing them to grow egotistically. It took a long time for me to learn not to flatter my peers by engineering my words! Today, I do not look to see who is listening before I speak... I just speak the truth anyway. No, I do not deliberately intend to cause disquiet, but the Gospel and its elements will bring enemies to our door, no matter how gentle we are!
We can expect trouble if we are genuine believers, because the unsaved, and those who are badly taught, hate truth. As the truth-bringer you will be their target for hate. Jesus is saying that if we do not know this hatred, then something is wrong with our witness and words. Thus far – and we are only in chapter six – you have seen how Jesus Himself quickly earned the hatred of the Pharisees, scribes and others, though He spoke truth with power and healed everyone. If people treat us well and speak highly of us – look out, for it means you are not speaking as you ought, and God denounces you. It is better to be hated by men than to be condemned by God!
Verse 27 is usually badly misunderstood. Jesus did not tell His disciples to ‘roll over’ so their enemies could trample all over them! The verse is in the middle of several giving personal instruction, and comes immediately after warning that when people praise Christians they must beware of the coming hate. The ‘enemy’ here is not the general mass of haters of God, but those who hate us on a personal level, because we preach the Gospel. This is emphasised by the ‘But’ at the start of the verse.
The ‘but’ (a conjunction) at the start of verse 24 links to the previous one – forget riches and instead prefer Heavenly wealth. Now, in verse 27, the ‘but’ links to the previous verse, 26. By preaching falsehoods people will love us, but by preaching truth, we will be hated. However, says Jesus, when you thus preach truth and are hated, do not hate those who are critical of you. Instead, treat them wisely and with kindness. Not because they deserve it, but because your actions of good will be coals of condemnation on their heads. If you do good for those who hate you and wish to make you look foolish or bad, then they can have no defence before God on judgment day.
So, Jesus is referring back to those who hate us for speaking truth. The conjunction, ‘but’, alla, here means ‘even so’ or ‘nevertheless’. That is ‘No matter how badly they treat you for your faith, you must not return hatred back’. If I may put in a personal note here: in my own ministry and life I will fight an argument vehemently and even hotly – but I never make the one who argues or hates the ‘target’ for my responses. I have no personal attitude towards my enemy, but only towards his argument. This is a sound way to avoid becoming hateful. Yes, I have missed this aim at times, but rarely, I hope. But, my true aim is to only ‘argue the argument’. On odd occasions the argument must, of necessity, be against a person as well as the argument. Even then, I try my best not to make it ‘personal’.
Similarly, Jesus extends this warning to those who curse us, wishing us evil. He tells us to pray for those who act that way. Yes, this is very hard to do – but like everything in the Christian life, it is subject to discipline of self. To be treated despitefully is to be abused, threatened, or accused falsely. Have you been cursed or abused and hated? I have, regularly! At times I admit to faltering inwardly, but that is when I must repent and return to what God requires. It can be very hard, but it is necessary... the less we trust God, the harder it will be!
Some pretend to be cursed or hated, when they are not; some pretend they are being hounded, when they may only have been fleetingly hated for a moment or two. Some of us are under constant threat and are frequently attacked and hated. But, whether fleetingly or constantly, we must all respond in a godly way. Yet others actually seek out ways to be hated or attacked! This is sin and must never be contemplated. But, those who do it want the praise of their fellow believers. Do not praise them for stupidity!
What should we pray for those who curse us? The first and obvious prayer is that they will stop; the second is that they will be changed. But, if enemies are ruthless and do us continuing harm, we may need to use imprecatory prayer. That is, ask God to remove the enemy by whatever means He wishes to use. (This kind of prayer is not included in Jesus’ counsel in this text, but is to be found in other texts in scripture). Even if we feel unable to praise the enemy we should at least not do them harm. The main aim, though, is to seek their good... not as slaves to their whims, but if and when we are able to deal kindly with them.
From these texts come verses 29 and 30. These verses, too, are usually misused. The verses continue on from the previous ones speaking of being personally attacked (as the word ‘and’ signifies). Again, this refers to being attacked for one’s faith or speaking truth. It does NOT mean we must just stand and take violence if someone suddenly jumps on us in the street without reason.
Thus, a critic takes offence at some truth we have given, or just hates us for our faith, and suddenly lunges at us, striking us on one side of our face. This could be hitting with a fist, though, logically, hitting on one side of the face is usually done by a slap rather than a punch. It is a quick reaction. Ever been hit this way by someone who hates you for your faith? I have. I have been slapped, punched, kicked, strangled... but did not retaliate. God took over, not me.
Rather than hit back we are to ‘offer’ the other cheek as well! No, this does not mean we must foolishly and deliberately say “Go on, then, hit me this side as well!” It means that if the person has already hit us and continues to do so, we should not resist, but should just turn the head. This kind of thing unnerves an enemy, but also will later cause him to feel foolish or even guilty. It also, again, heaps coals of condemnation on his head. I tend to think of this kind of action as a calm and dignified response to someone who suddenly lashes out because of a truth, or simply because we have faith. The ‘lashing out’ can also be mental or verbal.
A similar word is given about the theft of our cloke with the threat of violence, and then the stealing of our coat as well. This is also tied-in to the previous texts concerning those who hate us for our faith and is not about general theft. (Such texts should not be extended to other areas of discussion). Jesus then tells us to give to those who ask for something (if we have what they want). This may, or may not, be with force. And, later, we should not ask for our goods back. Again, this is in the context of a spiritual enemy who acts badly towards us. The idea is to show God’s grace to them and not to lash out or become violent in return.
And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Of course, violent men and those who hate, do not want their own actions given back to them! Rather, they want no-one to touch them or to speak back! Jesus is telling his disciples to treat people as they would like to be treated themselves – with honour, dignity, peace, kindness, etc. It is how we would like to be treated ourselves.
And we must do this because it is opposite to what our enemies do to us. It is very easy to prefer and to love those who love us. Even the unsaved like this arrangement. And, unfortunately, this is what cliques are like in our churches. Almost every local church has groups of ‘holy huddles’ which prefer some but shun others. This is not good. I was in a church containing a large number of wealthy people. They grouped together but preferred not to mix with the poorer folks. This is sin.
Many people will give presents to people who give them presents, as at Christmas time. When people give money to causes, they like to receive a sticky badge or poppy in return. But, Jesus says we should not let one hand know what the other hand is doing, and to give secretly. In the same church I just mentioned, an appeal was sent out for members to give to a fund to treat the dry rot. At that time I worked for myself doing odd jobs and earned very little. But, I gave a whole week’s income to the fund, having no other income to buy food, etc. The following week, the secretary gave the name of a richer person from the pulpit, thanking her for her donation, mentioning both name and amount. My own donation was not mentioned... but, I was much poorer. Not even a private thanks was given. I did not seek it – but was very annoyed when only the richer member was praised from the pulpit, because it showed an attitude of arrogance towards the poor!
We should not give in order to be recognised as a giver! Nor should we expect praise for giving. Give secretly, and even give to those who you know may not thank you. Do not give to others in the expectation of getting something back.
Rather, give to those who express loathing for you. Do them good and not harm. If they need something, then lend it, but do not later insist on getting it back by reminding them of an obligation. Indeed, loan to fellow believers, without expectation of anything in return. Your reward is great from God, as He sees the heart of goodness. God showers help on the unsaved and evil as well as on His children, with many blessings. The sun shines on us all, the crops grow for the evil ones. Yet, God is shunned and abused. Even so, He continues to show favour in general things. We must be the same, and must be just as merciful as our Father.
However, we must balance all this with other texts that tell us we may not help those who hate God, and should not give funds to those who will use them to cause harm to themselves or others.
Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
We now come to yet another badly abused or misused text. “judge not, and ye shall not be judged”. In other texts we are commanded to judge others. This particular text appears to refer to the brethren. It means that we must be careful not to judge if we are guilty of the same sins. We may not condemn another brother if we are ourselves guilty of the same sin. And, we must always forgive, or we will not ourselves be forgiven. Verse 37 is a summary only, for it is well qualified and expanded upon in other texts. Whatever we give to others will return to us, multiplied, whether we give of sin or of good. Indeed, if we give graciously or badly, God will return it in overflowing abundance. Be gracious to others and God will be gracious to us, rewarding us many times over.
And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?
The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.
Well – can the blind lead the blind? Would you like to put your life into the hands of a blind mountain guide? Hardly. As Jesus said, a blind guide will likely cause you both to fall into a ditch! These two sentences in verse 39 are just the start of a longer parable that continues to the end of the chapter.
A follower or disciple is not greater than his master; those who wish to be like their master will follow him absolutely. That way neither of them is blind and both will pursue what is true and good. By following the master one will not waste time looking for faults in others, but will firstly remove his own sins and faults. If he does not he is an hypocrite. (Obviously, the ‘master’ here is Jesus).
Note that Jesus does NOT tell us to avoid being critical. Rather, He says we must firstly make sure we are not sinning the same sin. Only when we know we are clean of it can we help our brethren. This should be a mutual task for all brethren – today I help you with your mote, tomorrow you help me with mine! It is how it ought to be, and done with love and care, not with a sense of nasty pride or punishment.
For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
The conjunction ‘For’ at the start of verse 43, tells us that the verse follows on from the previous verses, and so deals with the same subject. Jesus is telling us to help each other to live holy lives. Doing so shows that our fruit is good, because the tree on which it grows is itself good. Thus, if we are saved we will prove it by our words and actions towards others. As saved people living holy lives the fruit we produce – what we say and do in life – will be as holy as our root, which is in Christ. It is not possible for us to produce corrupt fruit when we live unto Christ! A bad tree (unsaved) cannot produce good fruit.
Thus, each tree – the saved or the unsaved – produces fruit consistent with its roots. And the fruit will be that of the type of tree. A man does not go to a thorn bush to gather figs, but goes to a living fig tree. Grapes come from well-tended vines and not from thorn bushes. And so a good man must produce good acts; an evil man cannot do what is good in God’s eyes, and must always do what is consistent with his nature of evil. What is in our hearts will show in our words and actions. In saying all this, Jesus is showing that we can detect who is truly saved and who is not. He says it not to condemn others but to warn us to be holy, so that our fruit is not corrupt.
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
‘And’, de, is another conjunction, linking what has been said before with what follows. It is likely that Jesus’ comments here are on existing circumstances, where some claimed to follow him (remember, He was talking to His disciples), but failed to obey what He said. Many in our churches today are like this, including pastors!
Jesus asked them – ‘Why call me your Master (kyrios) and yet not do what I tell you to do?’ Then, Jesus told them He would describe the kind of person who listens AND does what He says: Such a man is one who digs a deep foundation until he hits solid rock; then he builds his house. When a mighty flood came along, the house stood firm, because it was on solid foundations. But, the man who listens and does nothing, builds his house on earth (or sand), so when the flood came, the earth was dissolved and the house fell with a great crash.
The house is the man’s spiritual and earthly life. If we do not build them on the solid Rock of God, then we cannot stand against wickedness and trouble when they come. But, when we take the time and effort to steadily build a solid base for our lives, everything we do will be of God and to God – nothing can batter us down!
This counsel from Jesus is so very true, for a solid spiritual base is essential to all of life, whether spiritual or earthly. With it, we can stand true and calm even when being assaulted by the world and Satan.
© Septemeber 2012