The Disciples Pluck Grain on the Sabbath
6 1 On a certain Sabbath Jesus was walking through a field of ripe grain. His disciples were pulling off heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands to get rid of the chaff, and eating them. 2 Some Pharisees said, "Why are you doing that, breaking a Sabbath rule?" 3 But Jesus stood up for them. "Have you never read what David and those with him did when they were hungry? 4 How he entered the sanctuary and ate fresh bread off the altar, bread that no one but priests were allowed to eat? He also handed it out to his companions." 5 Then he said, "The Son of Man is no slave to the Sabbath; he's in charge."
The Man with a Withered Hand
6 On another Sabbath he went to the meeting place and taught. There was a man there with a crippled right hand. 7 The religion scholars and Pharisees had their eye on Jesus to see if he would heal the man, hoping to catch him in a Sabbath infraction. 8 He knew what they were up to and spoke to the man with the crippled hand: "Get up and stand here before us." He did. 9 Then Jesus addressed them, "Let me ask you something: What kind of action suits the Sabbath best? Doing good or doing evil? Helping people or leaving them helpless?" 10 He looked around, looked each one in the eye. He said to the man, "Hold out your hand." He held it out - it was as good as new! 11 They were beside themselves with anger, and started plotting how they might get even with him.
Jesus Chooses the Twelve
12 At about that same time he climbed a mountain to pray. He was there all night in prayer before God. 13 The next day he summoned his disciples; from them he selected twelve he designated as apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, Andrew, his brother, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James, son of Alphaeus, Simon, called the Zealot, 16 Judas, son of James, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Jesus Ministers to a Great Multitude
17 Coming down off the mountain with them, he stood on a plain surrounded by disciples, and was soon joined by a huge congregation from all over Judea and Jerusalem, even from the seaside towns of Tyre and Sidon. 18 They had come both to hear him and to be cured of their ailments. Those disturbed by evil spirits were healed. 19 Everyone was trying to touch him - so much energy surging from him, so many people healed!
Blessings and Woes
20 Then he spoke: You're blessed when you've lost it all. God's kingdom is there for the finding. 21 You're blessed when you're ravenously hungry. Then you're ready for the Messianic meal. You're blessed when the tears flow freely. Joy comes with the morning. 22 "Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable. 23 You can be glad when that happens - skip like a lamb, if you like! - for even though they don't like it, I do . . . and all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company; my preachers and witnesses have always been treated like this. Give Away Your Life 24 But it's trouble ahead if you think you have it made. What you have is all you'll ever get. 25 And it's trouble ahead if you're satisfied with yourself. Your self will not satisfy you for long. And it's trouble ahead if you think life's all fun and games. There's suffering to be met, and you're going to meet it. 26 "There's trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests - look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular.
Love for Enemies
27 "To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. 28 When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. 29 If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. 30 If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. 31 "Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! 32 If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. 33 If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. 34 If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that's charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that. 35 "I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You'll never - I promise - regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we're at our worst. 36 Our Father is kind; you be kind.
37 "Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults - unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don't condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you'll find life a lot easier. 38 Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back - given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity." 39 He quoted a proverb: "'Can a blind man guide a blind man?' Wouldn't they both end up in the ditch? 40 An apprentice doesn't lecture the master. The point is to be careful who you follow as your teacher. 41 "It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. 42 Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this I-know-better-than-you mentality again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your own part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.
A Tree Is Known by Its Fruit
43 "You don't get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. 44 The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives. 45 It's who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.
The House Built on a Rock
46 "Why are you so polite with me, always saying 'Yes, sir,' and 'That's right, sir,' but never doing a thing I tell you? 47 These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on. 48 "If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last. 49 But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don't work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss."
A Centurion's Servant Healed
7 1 When he finished speaking to the people, he entered Capernaum. 2 A Roman captain there had a servant who was on his deathbed. He prized him highly and didn't want to lose him. 3 When he heard Jesus was back, he sent leaders from the Jewish community asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 They came to Jesus and urged him to do it, saying, "He deserves this. 5 He loves our people. He even built our meeting place." 6 Jesus went with them. When he was still quite far from the house, the captain sent friends to tell him, "Master, you don't have to go to all this trouble. I'm not that good a person, you know. I'd be embarrassed for you to come to my house, 7 even embarrassed to come to you in person. Just give the order and my servant will get well. 8 I'm a man under orders; I also give orders. I tell one soldier, 'Go,' and he goes; another, 'Come,' and he comes; my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it." 9 Taken aback, Jesus addressed the accompanying crowd: "I've yet to come across this kind of simple trust anywhere in Israel, the very people who are supposed to know about God and how he works." 10 When the messengers got back home, they found the servant up and well.
Jesus Raises the Widow's Son at Nain
11 Not long after that, Jesus went to the village Nain. His disciples were with him, along with quite a large crowd. 12 As they approached the village gate, they met a funeral procession - a woman's only son was being carried out for burial. And the mother was a widow. 13 When Jesus saw her, his heart broke. He said to her, "Don't cry." 14 Then he went over and touched the coffin. The pallbearers stopped. He said, "Young man, I tell you: Get up." 15 The dead son sat up and began talking. Jesus presented him to his mother. 16 They all realized they were in a place of holy mystery, that God was at work among them. They were quietly worshipful - and then noisily grateful, calling out among themselves, "God is back, looking to the needs of his people!" 17 The news of Jesus spread all through the country.
The Messengers from John the Baptist
18 John's disciples reported back to him the news of all these events taking place.
19 He sent two of them to the Master to ask the question, "Are you the One we've been expecting, or are we still waiting?" 20 The men showed up before Jesus and said, "John the Baptizer sent us to ask you, 'Are you the One we've been expecting, or are we still waiting?'" 21 In the next two or three hours Jesus healed many from diseases, distress, and evil spirits. To many of the blind he gave the gift of sight. 22 Then he gave his answer: "Go back and tell John what you have just seen and heard: The blind see, The lame walk, Lepers are cleansed, The deaf hear, The dead are raised, The wretched of the earth have God's salvation hospitality extended to them. 23 "Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves fortunate!" 24 After John's messengers left to make their report, Jesus said more about John to the crowd of people. "What did you expect when you went out to see him in the wild? A weekend camper? 25 Hardly. What then? A sheik in silk pajamas? Not in the wilderness, not by a long shot. 26 What then? A messenger from God? That's right, a messenger! Probably the greatest messenger you'll ever hear. 27 He is the messenger Malachi announced when he wrote, I'm sending my messenger on ahead To make the road smooth for you. 28 "Let me lay it out for you as plainly as I can: No one in history surpasses John the Baptizer, but in the kingdom he prepared you for, the lowliest person is ahead of him. 29 The ordinary and disreputable people who heard John, by being baptized by him into the kingdom, are the clearest evidence; 30 the Pharisees and religious officials would have nothing to do with such a baptism, wouldn't think of giving up their place in line to their inferiors. 31 "How can I account for the people of this generation? 32 They're like spoiled children complaining to their parents, 'We wanted to skip rope and you were always too tired; we wanted to talk but you were always too busy.' 33 John the Baptizer came fasting and you called him crazy. 34 The Son of Man came feasting and you called him a lush. 35 Opinion polls don't count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating." Anointing His Feet
Jesus at the Home of Simon the Pharisee
36 One of the Pharisees asked him over for a meal. He went to the Pharisee's house and sat down at the dinner table. 37 Just then a woman of the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home of the Pharisee, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume 38 and stood at his feet, weeping, raining tears on his feet. Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume. 39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man was the prophet I thought he was, he would have known what kind of woman this is who is falling all over him." 40 Jesus said to him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." "Oh? Tell me." 41 "Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. 42 Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?" 43 Simon answered, "I suppose the one who was forgiven the most." 44 Then turning to the woman, but speaking to Simon, he said, "Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. 45 You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn't quit kissing my feet. 46 You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. 47 Impressive, isn't it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal." 48 Then he spoke to her: "I forgive your sins." 49 That set the dinner guests talking behind his back: "Who does he think he is, forgiving sins!" 50 He ignored them and said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."