The gospel of Luke is written with a Gentile or Greek-speaking cultured people in mind. To them the author writes an account, composed using eyewitness accounts, of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Luke, compared to the other gospels, includes more of the role and importance of women and the poor, and relates the most parable teachings of Jesus in his story of who Jesus is, how he was and is in the world, and how that changes even us, today.
In the unfolding story of Jesus, he has begun preaching and teaching publicly to immediate interest and acclaim. Today’s selection focuses around the observation of the Torah Law, specifically on the Sabbath. Respecting God, fearing God and following God was intertwined in practice of God’s teaching, observing the Torah laws in the view of both living for God and living well and reflecting to the world the difference that knowing the God of the Bible implies.
The Sabbath was a day of rest, commanded in the 10 commandments as the active remembering of the 7th day of creation when God rested saying that all that was made was good, and be extension to be enjoyed in restful contemplation. (Exodus 20:8-11) It also was the active communal (including animals and foreign refugees) remembering that the Hebrews were once an enslaved people who couldn’t rest, but God liberated them. (Deuteronomy 5:12-15) This Sabbath rest then wasn’t merely a rest break, but a counter-cultural act of resistance to the thought that we have and can save ourselves, can do everything, should do everything, are not dependent upon God’s grace. It was a day of spiritual contemplation, sacred interaction and communal celebration.
Jesus butts heads with the religious authorities of the day who insist upon a doctrinal understanding of God’s commandment as a prescription to be followed to the letter, whereas Jesus gets underneath the fourth commandment to the spirit and purpose of the Torah Law of God for life and communal livelihood.
Questions for the practice of Examen & Contemplation
- What strikes you in this passage? How does it interact with your life today, the questions you have, the issues you’re facing?
- At the root of these encounters is the question of the meaning and purpose of life. What does God call us to be?; to do?; to become? How do we live that out and how do we encourage each other to live into this radical freeing truth. How do you experience faith to be about this challenge? How do you experience it to be about rules and appearances? Why?
- In this conflict over purpose, Jesus calls the 12 disciples. What is he calling them to? What is Jesus calling us to in terms of choosing life over lawfulness, the spirit over the letter of the law?
At our church we’re studying Luke 6:1-16 in the larger context of Luke 5:17-6:16. You can download a textual study tool HERE.