St. Luke 6:36-42
[Jesus said], “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye.”
We ask the Lord in the Collect this morning, that He enable us, as the Church, to joyfully serve Him in all godly quietness. We ask that this world be less in turmoil, and more like the heavenly kingdom that we anticipate.
Something has to happen in order for that to be the case, something God must bring about. By His direction this world must be so peaceably ordered that this might be the case. Things happen in this world that prevent us from joyfully serving Him in all godly quietness. You and I play a part in the things that happen in this world. We’re asking God, then, to order us, too, to direct us toward this end.
One of the things in this world that prevents that peaceful order, and that prevents the Church serving the Lord in godly quietness is the tendency that we sinners have, to point out others’ faults and to hold things against them. Implied when we do this, is that we are innocent of any wrong. That’s why, when Jesus says, judge not…condemn not, He follows it up with, and you will not be judged…and you will not be condemned. He’s saying by that, You’re telling me that this other person is deserving of rebuke, or correction? So are you - to the same extent.
In fact, Jesus goes on to use an illustration to make the point that should be clear enough to all of us: the blind can’t lead the blind. Nothing is being accomplished if the one leading and the one following have that same vulnerability. Sinners need to humbly recognize sin in themselves as the first priority. Don’t be in the business of pointing out others’ faults when your own are also plain to see, He’s saying. He even uses the word, hypocrite.
There’s a certain arrogance that Jesus is addressing here; a sinful pride that works against our aim of gently serving the Lord in all godly quietness. When we’re thinking lightly of our own sins, and harshly of others’ sins, there’s a division that sets in between people.
Jesus says to the multitude in His Sermon on the Mount, just prior to our text, to seek the good - even of your enemies, even of those who hate you. Pray for them, make peace with them, give to them without expecting to be repaid. What a strange teaching! -they must have been thinking. Do good, especially to the ones who don’t do good to you - and not because there’s some hidden, secret benefit to you, either.
Because that’s where our mind goes, isn’t it? Ahh. We think. He must be saying that we pass this strange test of being too nice to somebody, and then we get…what? Some prize? We really do end up getting to rub their nose in something at the end of it all? No. Nothing like that. He ends up saying, Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful (6:36). The benefit is that you’re doing God’s will; you’re being godly. It’s evident that you’re one of His people. (That’s Who God is! He does good to those who have done evil to Him. So, if you’re one of His people, you do that too).
It isn’t our first instinct, is it? Somebody said something to you that hurt your feelings? You wanted to give it right back to them, didn’t you? Me too. Somebody treated you unfairly? You wanted them to get the same treatment, and to be able to relish seeing it. We have an amazing capacity, don’t we; to dissect every little nuance of our neighbor’s sin? We’re able to construct the most elegant, bullet-pointed list in our minds, of every offense, every aspect of every offense. We want to have everything organized just right so if we get our moment to explode at them, we’ll be sure not to leave anything out from our list of how they’ve offended us.
This text is part of the same chapter of St. Luke’s gospel that contains what we know as the Beatitudes. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth; and so forth. When you think about our text, and about the Beatitudes, and about this whole chapter, you just get a sense that what’s being said to us is that God’s kingdom operates in a different way than this fallen world. The way in which sinners react, according to their nature, is different from God’s way. It’s news to us, the way God would have us respond to people who wrong us. It’s strange to our ears. It even irritates us, if the truth be told, doesn’t it; …a little bit?
This strange way is the very nature of our Savior, though. St. Peter says this of Him: He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed (1 Peter 2:22-24).
Not only did Jesus react in this godly, merciful, generous way when He found Himself in the moments of being reviled, and suffering, but in order to be reviled, and in order to suffer, and in order to die were the reasons He came. He came because you have committed sin, and I have. He came because deceit has been found in your mouth, and in mine. He came because when reviled, we have reviled in return. He has accomplished in His perfect life, and in His sacrificial death, full and free forgiveness for yours and for my sin, for our deceit, for our reviling in return.
Remember, we said that in the Collect we’re asking God to order us, along with the world, to direct us toward this end of joyfully serving Him in all godly quietness. It’s important for us to recognize that He’s doing that right now. As you are listening to His Word being preached and read - the Holy Spirit working in that Word - He is changing your heart, and by extension, the world. He is strengthening your grasp on Christ more and more, and strengthening your desire evermore to be Christ-like.
That affects the world. The Spirit making you humble in recognizing your own sin and God’s grace in forgiving you, makes you see your neighbor’s sin in a different way. You aren’t interested in trying to gain something by him losing; your joy is sought in building him up in Christ. Your joy is in bringing him to know the joy you have in Christ.
As you come to the communion rail this morning, think about the One you’re receiving - the One Who gives His true body and blood along with bread and wine for the forgiveness of your sins. Think about why it’s important that He’s your Savior - this One Whose reaction to people was always according that way of God’s kingdom that’s so strange to our sinful nature. It was always in mercy, and not in wicked retaliation. It was always with loving concern for the other person, even when their intention was to do Him harm. He is this perfect one as your Savior Who makes you right with God.
Within the Collect’s concept of the Lord peaceably ordering this world so that the Church might joyfully serve Him in all godly quietness, there’s a subtle End Times implication. We’re here in this world for a span of time, though we are strangers and pilgrims in this world who anticipate a better place. We’re asking that the Lord make it possible for believers to be able to be spared from the things about this sinful world that would prevent us from reaching the heavenly home. Foremost among those dangerous things is our own sinful hearts that glom on to this world’s worst things - sinful judgment, envy, cruelty, bitterness, arrogance, self-righteousness. There isn’t any solution within us. We can’t peaceably order anything toward a good end.
Jesus is the solution. He came into this world, a human, but also God - and demonstrating that God’s kingdom operates in a different way than this fallen world. It was news to the people who were seeing Him demonstrate this. His enemies were expecting Him to revile in return, to threaten like sinners do. But His nature is different from ours. This One conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary committed no sin so that He could bear [your] sins in His body on the tree, as St. Peter says.
And if Christ bears your sins, they are removed from you. You can be at peace, serving the Lord in godly quietness, anticipating an end to all of the difficulty of this world, and an unending joy in His heavenly kingdom. God be praised. Amen.
Grant, O Lord, we beseech You, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by Your direction that Your Church may joyfully serve You in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever.
Other Texts for This Sunday:
“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.
And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Luke 6 English Standard Version (ESV)
Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath
6 On a Sabbath,[a] while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. 2 But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” 3 And Jesus answered them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?” 5 And he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”
A Man with a Withered Hand
6 On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7 And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. 8 But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. 9 And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” 10 And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. 11 But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
The Twelve Apostles
12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
Jesus Ministers to a Great Multitude
17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.
20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
Jesus Pronounces Woes
24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.
“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.
Love Your Enemies
27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic[b] either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye.
A Tree and Its Fruit
43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Build Your House on the Rock
46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.[c] 49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”