Scripture StudyThe Gospel according to Luke is the story of Jesus and the Church dominated by historical perspective. In the teaching and ministry of Jesus, we are shown that the salvation promised to Israel in the Old Testament is accomplished by Jesus and extended to the Gentiles by his chosen followers. The story is continued in the Acts of the Apostles, the second volume of Lukes work, which details the activity of most of the followers from the resurrection of Jesus to Pauls first Roman imprisonment. This lesson covers Luke 6:37-49
Many New Testament scholars say that the most original thing about Jesus was his teaching through parables. The great principles he enunciated, such as the Golden Rule, belonged to his Jewish heritage and had been taught for centuries. But no religious leader told stories quite like he did. Even when he was teaching a general truth, he expressed that truth in a vivid image or an abbreviated story. Take this gospel lesson. He might have stated this profound truth in an abstract way: "All human beings are interdependent." But it would lose much of its punch. How much more he communicates when he asks the rhetorical questions: "Can a blind man act as a guide to a blind man? Will they not both fall into a ditch?" The questions force us to think. The images help us remember.
However it is stated, this is a great truth. We are dependent on others for the very meaning of our lives. We depend on others for the bare physical needs of life. Think of how many human beings were involved in delivering the bread to your table that you had for breakfast. The network of dependence is so vast that we can scarcely imagine it. More important, we depend on others for the deep spiritual needs of life. Try to imagine what life would be like without the love of your family and the affection of your friends. We drink deep from the wells of others for all the physical and spiritual needs of life. The amazing thing is that we take these life-giving, life-sustaining relationships for granted. We ought to thank God for them and do everything we can to strengthen them.
Jesus stressed the importance of inner attitudes and outer actions. He was not satisfied with the person who keeps up appearances. Avoiding adultery was not enough. We must avoid lustful thoughts as well. Avoiding murder was not enough. We must avoid hateful feelings as well. Why did Jesus place so much emphasis on inner attitudes? What difference does it make how a person feels about others as long as he behaves toward them in a proper way? More was at stake in Jesus emphasis on inner attitudes than a concern over hypocrisy. Jesus knew that sooner or later character will out. A person cannot keep hate bottled up inside, no matter how good an actor he is. A person cannot let lust fill his heart, no matter how strong a will he has. Sooner or later, character will out. This does not mean that we should wait to start treating people decently until we love them as our equals. How often have we heard people say "you cant legislate morality" in opposition to laws which mandate racial equality or outlaw hate crimes?
Of course, you cannot change attitudes overnight by passing laws against prejudice and persecution. But you can change behavior by passing such laws. We do that all the time. What laws can do is create a situation in which we can become acquainted with people of other races or religions as individuals. In that way, laws can in time lead to changed attitudes as well as changed actions.
This lesson reminds us, "Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given you; a good measure, packed together shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in turn be measured out to you."
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