His reputation as a teacher drew a following wherever he went, and he went by walking. In our time, teachers/doers garner a crowd digitally, but the magnetism of these folks is the same principle.i So here is Jesus, walking from one city to another through farmland. The road is boarder by grain fields. The disciples (followers) help themselves to a handful of wheat heads, shuck them by rubbing off the husks and eat them. Like all such teachers, He has His detractors. Perhaps it is just a matter of jealousy at this stage of his career. His teaching challenges their teaching and He can do things they cannot do. They are panicking. Their comfortable role in Israel will quickly slip away if His success continues.
How to Respond to the Challenges of Evil
- Test One
The implication is that the Pharisees asked this question to the disciples, and Jesus overheard them (6:2) and answered for the disciples (6:3). From His extensive knowledge of the Old Testament, he answered with a question. The method of resetting the argument is a common one for Jesus. He turns the situation from defense to offense. When Jesus determines that an inquiry is intended to be a trap, he turns the table.
He asks the questionii, “Have you not read what David did?” Thereby He places these Pharisees in the position of questioning the second most revered Old Testament character, David. As David was God’s chosen and exercised this liberty of His role, so Jesus says, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
- Test Two
He is in a synagogue teaching the next week or several weeks later. A man in the audience has a withered hand (6:6). Having lost round one, these Pharisees are panting for round two (6:7). Jesus is very aware of their thinking (6:8) and proceeds to call the man forward, as it were, puts this miracle on display (8). He then poses His question, drawing up the rules of Judaism, which again turns the table on these fellows (9). He then heals the man.
It is instructive to note the reaction of the Pharisees because their ilk has not changed. When we wisely question those of ill will, we can expect them to be enraged (11). They cannot be wrong because if they are, they must repent and acknowledge the truth.
What to do when the enemy is enraged—engage in intense prayer
Remember, Jesus is human. He experienced all the dynamics of being human, yet without sin. These were stressful encounters. They burned lots of energy. This was spiritual warfare. Hence, Jesus goes to the mountain for an intense prayer time (6:12). We are told the content of His prayer. My sanctified speculation is that this prayer time was similar to that in Gethsemane. The perfect human Jesus agonized at the prospect of the intensity of the experience to come for him and the men he was about to appoint as Apostles. He emerges the next morning energized and with the next step in His plan of attack on the forces of evil (6:13-16).
Appoint Officers and Declare the Platform for the Battle 13-16
These men whom He had previously personally invited to follow Him He now formally enlists to become associated with him and appoints them as officers, Apostles. From the universe to aunt hill, creation screams that God is organized. The formation of Israel as a nation is a model social organization. From Genesis 3:15 to Revelation 22, redemption is an organized enterprise. Here Jesus begins the official organizational structure of the King of Heaven on Earth.
Declaring the Platform or Perspective of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth 17-38
- Live with an eternal perspective 21-26
- How to live in a war-torn kingdom 27-38
Four Illustrations of the Ideal Citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth 39-49
- Will not be blind; you cannot lead 39
- Will submit to training so you can be a teacher 40
- Will keep one’s own life in order 41-42
- Will evidence being a “good tree” 43-47
- Will build a life on good doctrine 48-49
Conclusion and Implementation
When you come to Jesus, you come to the Lord Jesus. There is no debate as to whether He is Lord or not. That has to do with who He is. You may not, no, you will not understand the depth of the implications of the fact of His Lordship. For example, you may have no inkling that you have just become a citizen of His kingdom and a soldier in His army. You simply know that “Once, I was lost, and now, I am saved. I was hell bound and now I am heaven-bound.” It takes discipleship to begin understanding your citizenship, including your call to spiritual warfare and lifestyle expectations, which facilitates your witness and brings stability and blessedness to your daily life.
The implementation for this chapter is this. Stand before your bathroom mirror, imagine yourself on that plain today, and listen to Jesus as he delivers this sermon. Then do an inventory of your life, pray, asking Him to pinpoint the most needful dimension of your life that you need to address to bring your life into conformity to His will. Now, pray again for wisdom to devise a plan to engage in this spiritual warfare of bringing your life into conformity to His will.
i Two examples: Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro
ii An interesting explanation of the Jesus’ application if found in the Pulpit commentary as follows: Their own loved David, said the new Teacher to his jealous accusers, scrupled not, when he “was an hungred,” to set at nought the twofold ordinance of sacrilege and of sabbath-breaking. (The reference is to 1 Samuel 21:5. David’s visit to the sanctuary at Nob took place evidently on the sabbath, as the fresh supply of shewbread had been apparently just laid out; he must, too, have violated another rule by his journey on that day. See Stier, ‘Words of the Lord Jesus,’ on Matthew 12:3, 4.) The lesson which Jesus intended to draw from the example of the great hero-king and the high priest was that no ceremonial law was to override. the general principle of providing for the necessities of the body. St. Matthew adds here a very forcible saying of the Lord’s spoken on this occasion, which goes to the root of the whole matter, “But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.” These laws, as God originally gave them, were never intended to be a burden, rather they were meant to be a blessing for man. After ver. 5, Codex I) – a very ancient authority, written in the fifth century, now in the University Library at Cambridge, but one which contains many passages not found in any other trustworthy manuscript or version – adds the following strange narrative: “The same day, Jesus seeing a man who was working on the sabbath, saith to him, O man, if thou knowest what thou art doing, blessed art thou; but if thou knowest not, thou art accursed, and a transgressor of the Law.” As no other ancient authority of weight contains this remarkable addition to the recital of our Lord’s teaching respecting the observance of the sabbath, it must be pronounced an interpolation. It belongs most likely to the very early days of the Christian story, and was probably founded on some tradition current in the primitive Church. The framework of the anecdote in its present form, too, shows a state of things simply impossible at this time. Any Jew who, in the days of Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry, openly, like the man of the story, broke the sabbath in the daring way related, would have been liable to be arrested and condemned to death by stoning. Luke 6:3