Tom J. Nettles
The comments, again, seek to include the larger context of the passage for the week. The texts within which the focus passages are embedded are in a larger and distinct type. May God bless you as you prepare and enrich your life as a disciple of the Lord Jesus. TJN
The selection of Twelve Apostles 12-19 [foundation for the new people of God] The twelve tribes are now being fulfilled through apostolic ministry; see 22:28-30; He promised that the apostles would “drink at my table n my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of
Jesus depended on prayer – He prayed all night on this occasion; daytimes were difficult to find solitude because of the crows that relentlessly sought him out. Every selection needed special guidance, even that of Judas Iscariot
Jesus selected the twelve – verses 13 – 16. The list ends with two named Judas, the last defined by the sobering word “who became a traitor.” The human means by which Jesus would be delivered up into the hands of hostile men was included in the clear direction given in answer to Jesus’ prayer. “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” [Acts 2:23]
Jesus engaged the multitude with power, compassion, and instruction – Having prayed all night and having just selected as a disciple the one that would betray him, he now turned attention to works of compassion and instruction. The phrase “power came out from him” seems to indicate that on this occasion, the work of healing was from a power intrinsic to himself [see also 7:14]. On occasion the power of his operation was from the Holy Spirit, [Matthew 12:28, 32], and on other occasions a peculiar work of the Father through Jesus [John 11:38-43]. The same interplay of power is evident in the resurrection of Jesus [by the glory of the Father, through the Spirit of holiness, by an authority in Jesus himself]. These reciprocal and intertwined operations of divine power, prerogative, and authority, lead to the necessity of articulating a doctrine of the Trinity.
Blessing and Cursing in a fallen and upside-down world – 20-26 [If Jesus as Lord of the Sabbath [6:5], and he is building a new nation on a new covenant, he now shows and new set of blessings and cursings. Cf Deut. 27-28]
20-23 – Blessing comes in not being captured by the world’s goods or approval – Poor – not grasping for worldly goods but realizing that our true need arises from our spiritual destitution; hunger, not pursuing earthly food but hungering for righteousness; Weep – sorrow for sin overwhelms any attempt for mere temporal frivolity; hate and scorn – when love of gospel truth brings scorn from the world. A knowledge of the excellence of Jesus Christ makes us willingly lose all other things that might be counted gain in this world (Paul in Philippians 3)
24-26 – Cursing comes from affection for the world’s goods and approval – For those who desire riches as their goal in life, that will be their only consolation to have gained it, but their loss will be eternal; the goal of full bellies now brings a wretched gnawing in the gut later; laughter from the pleasure of this perverse world’s standards, will result in unending wailing and gnashing of teeth; courting the world’s favor now, is to be an enemy of God.
Compare James 1:9-11; 1 Timothy 6:6-11; 17-19.
Ethics built on knowledge of Grace for children of the God of Grace 27-38
27, and verses 35, 36 – The actions of the people of God must be built, not on natural justice, but voluntary grace. Even though Jesus pronounces woe upon the worldly and shows that they will be enemies of God eternally, he admonishes children of the kingdom to love their enemies. This marks kingdom children clearly as having been brought from darkness to light. We become his children in the first place only because God loves his enemies Look at Romans 5:6-10; Titus 3:3-5; 1 John 4:7-10; 35-6] The chief manifestation of the gratuitous nature of our new morality, our new ethic, is in imitation of our heavenly Father who has been the source of mercy for us. The outpouring of an undeserved, counter-meritorious benevolence shows we do not think more highly of ourselves than we ought, we do not claim to be intrinsically superior to any, and that we have an undying gratitude to the one that loved us even while were dead in trespasses in sins [Ephesians 2:3, 4]
28-31 – Submissive and forgiving response to aggression. Those that curse us can neither truly curse nor redeem us; only one has removed the curse from us [Galatians 3:10-14]; to those that struck Jesus on his cheek, and gambled that they might take away his cloak, he asked the Father to forgive them. As his brothers, therefore, in the hope of redemption for those that have falsely assumed a position of power and superiority over us, we pray for forgiveness. We willingly part with temporal goods that we might show them the treasures where neither moth nor rust corrupt and thieves do not break through and steal. Not only do we bear and forbear, we seek a way to do eternal good to those that position themselves as our enemies. If we were unaware of fatal danger, would we not wish even our enemies to warn us of it. “As you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”
32-34 – Transcends the response of natural men. To do good to those that benefit us is only to engage in a species of self-love. This kind of self-seeking focus is the very nature of sin and shows why “sinners’ so easily can conform to a pattern of appearing helpful, when they have the knowledge that ultimately they will receive worldly advantage from their apparent altruism. Jesus is teaching us to approach the world redemptively. In Ephesians 5:2, Paul said “Walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.”
37, 38 – Our zeal should be not for the condemnation of others, but for their forgiveness. Only God knows those that will finally end life in an unforgiven, unredeemed state. We do not; nor are we the ones with any right to be personally aggravated and offended at human sin as if we sat on the circle of the law with pure eyes to behold the true nature of every offense. No, we ourselves have been dyed with the blood-red guilt of lawlessness. We, therefore, have no prerogative to judge others. Rather, as forgiven people we must work for their forgiveness. When we forgive we show that the principle of forgiveness has entered our hearts. If we know of how much we have been forgiven, we will not be slow to forgive others.
Instruction built on a knowledge of the deceitful, corrupt heart 39-45
39 – Spiritual guidance apart from genuine spiritual experience is disastrous. Blindness may be of two sorts: 1. An ignorance of the truth that generates opposition to it. Such were the Judaizers in Galatians and such were many of the Pharisees in their view of the purpose of the Law. 2. Blindness toward true gospel experience –One that has never experienced repentance or seen the true glory of Christ makes an incompetent guide in sorting out the nature of human response to the gospel call to repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. In verses 40-43, Jesus explores both of these ideas in the preparation of qualified teachers.
40 – We must all wait on right instruction to be teachers. This is such a profound and essential element of being a truth purveyor that many passages emphasize its importance from different angles. For example contemplate how these passages relate to this idea [1 Cor 2:14-16; Hebrews 5:11-14; James 3:1-18]; Because the gospel is a matter of divine revelation and revelation comes in words, one that would teach must first of all learn so that he becomes skillful in understanding the concepts, propositions, flow of thought, development of argument throughout the text of Scripture. He must master big ideas and foundational elements of revelatory truth, so as to deal faithfully with those “things . . . that are hard to understand” but are necessary to deal with faithfully, since God in his infallible wisdom has chosen to reveal them [Look at 2 Peter 3:14-18]. Jesus words here in Luke are in anticipation of verse 46-49.
41, 42 – One who has not dealt with the greatness of his own sin cannot be guide to help others see theirs. cf. Galatians 6:1-3; This is very difficult requirement of gospel teaching, for it is filled with the temptation of spiritual pride and always skirts close to the edge of self-righteous judgment. To keep an eye to our own tendencies to the full range of destructive works of the flesh, maintaining a circumspect walk, and an awareness of the necessity of correction and restoration for a fellow Christian enmeshed in the subtle and destructive powers of indwelling sin. These may range from a sexual fall to the bitter fruit of conceit, envy, and jealousy that causes us to bite and devour one another. While teachers are called to this task in a special way by virtue of their gifts and office, all Christians must maintain the same sense of stewardship of both personal life and loving admonition and encouragement to the members of the body.
43-45 – Such knowledge can only be attained through a change of heart
Spiritual work in the heart produces sensitivity to spiritual fruit – Galatians 5:16-26
We may examine our own spiritual standing by looking at the true nature of our actions – 44
We may be of help to others when our speech reflects spiritual discernment – 45
46-49 – Instruction built on a knowledge of the teaching of Jesus. Jesus has assumed the same position of authority and the prerogative of giving curse or blessings that we see assumed in Deut 28:13-15.
Jesus claims the prerogative of the law-giver/authoritative teacher 46
Belief of Jesus’s words, assuming such belief arises from the change of heart described above, and produces appropriate fruit, establishes one against every onslaught of time and eternity. He will not falter here, for his affections are settled on the unchangeable joy and glory of heaven; he will not falter hereafter under the deluge of divine wrath for his hope is built on nothing less that Jesus blood and righteousness.
Failure to believe the words of Jesus in such a way as to manifest fruit brings disaster. When Jesus asked his disciples in John 6 if they would join the crowd that left because of the difficulty of his words, Peter responded, “Lord to whom shall we go; you have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Even at that, one who heard those word, Judas, did not do them, and the ruin of his house was indeed great.