Read Luke Chapter 6
Jesus teaches that in order to have true religion we must live a different way. Religion is about action, not words or rituals. To the religious Jews nothing is more sacrosanct than the Sabbath. They think they are pleasing God by forcibly enforcing the Sabbath laws upon the people, hanging a weight on them that even they struggled to keep. Jesus hits right at the heart of this hypocrisy and so begins the conspiracy by them to do something about this Jesus fellow.
Luke 6:9 “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to destroy it?”…11 But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.”
Things are getting serious now so, after spending much time in prayer, as was His custom, Jesus appoints the twelve disciples/apostles. It’s important to note at this point that being with Jesus does not guarantee salvation: Judas was with Jesus along with all the others but we know how that turned out. In the same way, going to church and following religious practices will not save you. You must trust in Christ for the forgiveness of sins.
Having called and named the twelve the challenge to live different could not be clearer than in the sermon which follows: However hard life is as a follower of Jesus you can look forward to a heavenly reward; if your heart is set on the good life now, then that will be your reward, ‘woe to you’ are strong words indeed.
Luke 5:23 “Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven.”
You are to live entirely contrary to the natural inclination of your hearts and treat others as you would want to be treated, including your enemies and those who are not good to you or cannot repay. You get no credit for doing good to only those you love or can repay. In this we imitate God, for He was merciful to those who didn’t deserve mercy by sending His Son (Romans 5:8). God will be as merciful to you as you are to others (you reap what you sow).
Luke 6:35 “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 Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
We must not follow blind guides but follow Christ, we must not be blind to our faults but allow our hearts to be changed. It is in dealing with our faults that we can see clearly and help others to do likewise. You cannot disguise who you really are since it will be evident to all and your hearts will be clearly seen for what they truly are by its fruit.
Luke 6:45 “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”
We must build the foundations of our lives deep upon the rock which is the Word of Christ, not on empty religious behaviour. This is the only way you will be able to stand up as followers of Jesus when life gets tough.