In Luke’s account of the Sermon on the Mount, (The Sermon on the Plain, Luke 6:17-52), he records Jesus telling us to love our enemies and pray for them. He writes of Jesus instructing us to refrain from judging or condemning others. He recounts Jesus reminding us to look at the logs in our own eyes first. (Luke 6:27-42).
I’ve read and quoted these verses many times, yet as I read them again, I noticed a key phrase for the very first time.
The Bible is like that – God’s word never changes, but if we allow it, the Spirit continues to mature us in our faith and transform us in ways we never though possible. Mysteries open our eyes to passages we have never seen before. We have “Aha” moments, and understand the words of the Lord more deeply. We gain clarity in areas of former confusion. We have breakthroughs divergent from long held beliefs.
To you who are ready for the truth; But I tell everyone who is listening; But to you who are willing to listen; But I say to you who hear; If you’re listening, here’s My message: (Luke 6:27)
The quote above is from five different Bible versions. In Matthew’s account (Matthew 5.1) by contrast, Jesus begins by sitting down and waiting until the crowd had gathered around him. Luke, who was a physician and known for his precision in chronicling detailed and accurate accounts, tells us Jesus begins his sermon by addressing those who were willing to hear the truth.
God speaks to each of us, but do we listen? Do we stop to pay attention to His whispers? When we pray, do we make time to listen for His response?
Do we compartmentalize God’s commands when they don’t fit nicely into our acceptable framework? Do we pick and choose which commands to follow like we choose items off an á la carte menu? Do we prioritize the sins of others as more egregious than our own?
If we commit to follow Jesus, we must follow all His commands. Jesus was sent from God; he is an equal part of the Trinity, and appeared to us as the physical embodiment of the Father to bring us back into our Father’s embrace. We have the Spirit to remind us of his words – words of life – commands to keep us following in his footsteps. His commands keep us together in unity, in understanding and in healing. God wants us to continue to choose life.
“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)
Are we sometimes too obdurate in our points of view, too inflexible in our behavioral habits, made too intractable by fear or anger to stop and listen, to reevaluate, to consider Jesus just might be right?