Luke 6:1-11 Sermon Illustrations

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Luke 6:1-11


"Following Jesus

as the Lord of everything"

Luke 6:1-11




1. The American Medical Association recently released an interesting study. It deals with sleepy drivers, who are a major cause of accidents and deaths on American highways. If you are sleepy, you may open the car window, turn up the radio and drink a cup of coffee. But, none of these remedies work. The AMA has announced that the only remedy for sleepiness is sleep.



2. This may seem a little too obvious, but apparently it is not. We are a very busy and a very tired generation. Our work week is longer. Our hours of sleep are less. Typical schedules are busier than ever before. Highway traffic is a source of everyone’s complaint. And the consequences of busyness and tiredness are all around us - - - more traffic accidents, greater personal stress, unnecessary mistakes at work, strained relationships at home.


3. The solution is as old as the Bible. Rest! The 4th of the Ten Commandments says:

"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.

For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." (Exodus 20:8-11)


4. This commandment is brilliant and beneficial. It is straight from the God who designed us, created us and knows us the best.

Almost without exception, any person who complains about being too busy and too tired will be a person who does not keep the Sabbath commandment. Ask around, check it out, decide for yourself. Those who regularly keep a Sabbath day get more done in the other six days than those who don’t; those who regularly keep a Sabbath are better rested and less stressed than those who don’t.


5. The Sabbath commandment to take off a day for physical and personal renewal and rest is a wonderful gift from God. But, as we shall see from Jesus’ biography, even the best gifts from God can be misunderstood and abused. That’s the double story from Luke 6:1-11.



Luke 6:1-11

1 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels.

2 Some of the Pharisees asked, "Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?"

3 Jesus answered them, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?

4 He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions."

5 Then Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

6 On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled.

7 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath.

8 But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, "Get up and stand in front of everyone." So he got up and stood there.

9 Then Jesus said to them, "I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?"

10 He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He did so, and his hand was completely restored.

11 But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.

6. These very religions people took a wonderful tradition and turned it into an unreasonable burden. They interpreted the 4th commandment so strictly that it became illegal to eat when hungry or help someone who was hurting. Their religious extremism undermined the best parts of the religion they professed. It took powerful teaching and action from Jesus to show them their stupidity and a far better way.


7. The problem continues.

In every generation we struggle with people who are so tradition-bound that they have none of the freedom God offers.

At the other extreme, we have equal numbers of people who are ready to abandon every tradition, embrace everything new and reject the wonderful teachings and truths that God has given in the past for us to use today.


8. If we understand what Jesus said and did, we get the best of tradition and freedom and we avoid the dangerous extremes of both.

9. It is the powerful truth that Jesus is the Lord of life’s rules!


* Jesus shows us what we may do Luke 6:1-5

1. The first of two "Sabbath Stories" appears in Luke 6:1-5 of Luke’s biography of Jesus. It was a Saturday. That was when the Hebrew people observed the Sabbath (from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday).


2. The Pharisees (the "Religion Police") were spying on Jesus and his followers. They were watching and waiting for them to do something wrong. They got what they wanted when Jesus’ group cut through a grainfield and his followers picked some grain along the sides of the path. They not only picked it but they rubbed the grain heads open, blew off the chaff and ate the kernels.


3. The crime wasn’t stealing snacks from some anonymous farmer. The law clearly stated that the farmer had to allow such snacking! The Old Testament law of Deuteronomy 23:25 says: "If you enter your neighbor's grainfield, you may pick kernels with your hands, but you must not put a sickle to his standing grain." So, as long as they harvested with their hands and not with a sickle, it was perfectly legal.


4. The objection was doing it on the day of rest and renewal. The Pharisees accused them of reaping, threshing, winnowing and preparing food in a terrible four-part crime.


5. Jesus came right to the defense of his followers, as he always does. He was so clever in the way he worded things. He said to these Pharisees who prided themselves in knowing every word of the Bible: "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions." (Luke 6:3).


6. Obviously they had read it. But they never saw in the Bible story what Jesus saw in it. You see, it’s possible to read the Bible more as history than as the Word of God. It takes spiritual insight to get out of it what God sees in it.


7. It was a story from 1000 years earlier when King David and his followers were so hungry they ate the special bread consecrated to God. The closest I can compare is for someone today coming into a church building and making a sandwich out the bread prepared for Communion.

David didn’t get into trouble because he and his friends were really hungry - - - in other words, their need for bread was greater than the rule which kept the bread for just priests to eat.


8. Let’s make sure we Get Jesus’ point right here. He says, "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." He’s saying that he is the Boss and he can give permission for someone to eat his bread whenever he wants. He is the Boss and he can let his followers harvest on Saturday when they are hungry.

Jesus is saying that he shows us what we may do when our needs are so great that traditions must be overruled.


9. To get Jesus’ point right is to be set free from life by rules. We live more by relationship than by rules, more by grace than by law. However, there is a danger of terrible misapplication.

Someone may say, "Okay, I’ll just get Jesus’ permission when I want to have an affair (because I really need a relationship outside of marriage and I’m sure Jesus will understand). And, I’ll just assume Jesus will allow me to lie to my customers, steal from my company, ruin the reputation of my neighbors and have a few idols around my house or out in the garage to worship when it will make me feel better."

This is absolutely not what Jesus was teaching! No true follower of Jesus would ever propose such absurdities. Jesus wants us to keep the rules. But, he wants us and everyone else to know that the interpretation of the rules of God are up to him and not up to us.

When we start making up our own rules or interpreting them independently, we have become Pharisees and disobedient to God. God gives the rules and Jesus interprets them. (Make up a new set of letters that say WWJI - - "What Would Jesus Interpret?" when seeking to apply the rules of God and the Bible to specific life situations.)


* Jesus shows us what we should do Luke 6:6-11

1. The second Sabbath story is a story about priorities where Jesus shows us what we should do. This is a medical story set in a Jewish synagogue on a different Saturday. The religion police were there again looking for some way to catch Jesus in something wrong. Jesus knew who they were and what they were doing so he deliberately walked into their trap.


2. There was a man in the audience with a disabled right hand. (By the way, this story is also told by two of Jesus’ other biographers, Matthew and Mark, who never indicated which hand was disabled. But, Luke was a physician who was trained to observe and note such details!). Jesus asked the man to stand up in front of everyone and then asked a question of the audience that was targeted at the Pharisees: "I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?"

3. You see, the Pharisees would have insisted that Jesus wait until the next day before healing this disabled man. Jesus was asking, when is it the right time to do good?


4. Let me tell you how up-to-date this story is. Recently a 15 year old boy was severely wounded in the crossfire of a Chicago gang fight. His friends carried him to the emergency room of the closest hospital and laid him down 35 feet from the emergency room door. They went inside and asked for help. The hospital employees said, "it’s against the rules to give medical treatment to anyone outside the door." While they argued about the rules, the 15 year old bled to death.

It was the same question: "which is the higher priority - - to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?" That Chicago hospital has changed its rules in answer to Jesus’ question. Not that the old rule was bad. Most of the time patients should be brought in rather than doctors going out. But, when it comes down to a choice - - always do what is good and right.


5. The principle is centered in who Jesus is as the Son of God, the Lord of everything, the One who sets and reveals the difference between right and wrong.

However, there is also great power in the contrast between those whose lives are lived by rules and those whose lives are lived by love:

Luke 6:10 says that Jesus told the man to "‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did so, and his hand was completely restored."

Luke 6:11 says that "[the Pharisees] were furious and began to discuss with one another what they must do to Jesus."

The man who was healed by Jesus was delighted. He could use his hand. He could go back to work. He must have been full of love.

The men who lived by rules without love were furious and were filled with hate.

6. Many of us frequently face similar choices. We must choose between rules and people. We have to decide the highest priorities. Often these are extremely difficult decisions.

As Christians we want never to be rule breakers. But, let us never forget the law of loves is the highest law of all. Sometimes we must make priority choices that force us to do good even when rules and traditions say otherwise.


7. There is something very important to remember here. Jesus never proposed breaking divine rules or disobeying the Bible. The rules and the traditions of the Pharisees were human interpretations and applications of biblical laws. What Jesus really did for them and us was teach how to interpret the Bible, live life and set priorities.



1. There are two great lessons to learn from these two stories. Learning and living these lessons can make a profound difference in life. Really!


2. Lesson #1 = God gives good rules.

The Bible is full of God’s rules and that are in our best interest. The best summary is the Ten Commandments:

One God and only one God

Never make or worship any kind of idols

Don’t use God’s name inappropriately

Keep the Sabbath

Honor your parents

Don’t kill

Don’t commit adultery

Don’t steal

Don’t lie about your neighbor

Don’t covet what rightfully belongs to someone else


2. Lesson #2 = The Ruler is more important than the rules.

The greatest lesson is to put God first. The rules are important and good because God is important and good. The rules are tools, God is the toolmaker. Never fall in love with the rules. Fall in love with and follow the Lord!


3. Prayer:

God of the Bible, thank you for being the God of our everyday lives. We are encouraged that you understand how hard it can be to do right when we’re not quite sure how all the rules fit.

Give us wisdom. Fill us with love. Help us to read and understand the Bible with insight like Jesus had with that story about David. Most of all, accept our commitment to Jesus Christ as the highest Ruler of everything in our lives. Praying all this in his name, Amen.

6/21/98 Wooddale Church. ęCopyright, Leith Anderson, 1998.

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