Christmas to Calvary — December 6

Plucking Grain on the Sabbath

Now it happened that on a Sabbath he went through the grain fields, and his disciples were picking and eating the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not permitted on the Sabbath? And Jesus answered and said to them, “Have you not read this, what David did when he and those who were with him were hungry—how he entered into the house of God and took the bread of the presentation, which it is not permitted to eat (except the priests alone), and ate it and gave it to those with him?” And he said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

A Man with a Withered Hand Healed

Now it happened that on another Sabbath he entered into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there, and his right hand was withered. So the scribes and the Pharisees were watching closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath, in order that they could find a reason to accuse him. But he knew their thoughts and said to the man who had the withered hand, “Get up and stand in the middle,” and he got up and stood there. And Jesus said to them, “I ask you whether it is permitted on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save a life or to destroy it?” And after looking around at them all, he said to him, “Stretch out your hand,” and he did, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury, and began discussing with one another what they might do to Jesus.

The Selection of the Twelve Apostles

Now it happened that in these days he went away to the mountain to pray, and was spending the whole night in prayer to God. And when day came, he summoned his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he also named apostles: Simon (whom he also named Peter) and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

The Sermon on the Plain: The Beatitudes

And he came down with them and stood on a level place, and a large crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all of Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast district of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases, and those who were troubled by unclean spirits were cured. And the whole crowd was seeking to touch him, because power was going out from him and healing them all.

And he lifted up his eyes to his disciples and said,

“Blessed are the poor,
because yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are those who are hungry now,
because you will be satisfied.
Blessed are those who weep now,
because you will laugh.

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. Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For their fathers used to do the same things to the prophets.

The Sermon on the Plain: Woes

“But woe to you who are rich,
because you have received your comfort.
Woe to you who are satisfied now,
because you will be hungry.
Woe, you who laugh now,
because you will mourn and weep.
Woe whenever all people speak well of you,
for their fathers used to do the same things to the false prophets.

The Sermon on the Plain: Love for Enemies

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from the one who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic also. Give to everyone who asks you, and from the one who takes away your things, do not ask for them back. And just as you want people to do to you, do the same to them.

“And if you love those who love you, what kind of credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good to those who do good to you, what kind of credit is that to you? Even the sinners do the same! And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive back, what kind of credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, so that they may get back an equal amount! But love your enemies, and do good, and lend expecting back nothing, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful!

The Sermon on the Plain: On Judging Others

“And do not judge, and you will never be judged. And do not condemn, and you will never be condemned. Pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and it will be given to you, a good measure—pressed down, shaken, overflowing—they will pour out into your lap. For with the measure by which you measure out, it will be measured out to you in return.”

And he also told them a parable: “Surely a blind person cannot lead the blind, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not superior to his teacher, but everyone, when he is fully trained, will be like his teacher. And why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the beam of wood that is in your own eye? How are you able to say to your brother, “Brother, allow me to remove the speck that is in your eye,” while you yourself do not see the beam of wood in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the beam of wood from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye!

The Sermon on the Plain: Trees and Their Fruit

“For there is no good tree that produces bad fruit, nor on the other hand a bad tree that produces good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn plants, nor are grapes harvested from thorn bushes. The good person out of the good treasury of his heart brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasury brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

“And why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you?

The Sermon on the Plain: Two Houses and Two Foundations

“Everyone who comes to me and listens to my words and does them—I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug and went down deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood came, the river burst against that house and was not able to shake it, because it had been built well. But the one who hears my words and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation, which the river burst against, and immediately it collapsed—and the collapse of that house was great!”

Questions for Reflection:

  • Jesus calls His followers to love their enemies. How easy or difficult do you think it is to obey that command?

  • What does Jesus think is more valuable: your soul or all the wealth in the world? Think about that for a moment. What are some ways you can practically show that your soul is worth more than everything in the world?

Live-the-Word Challenge:

The Christmas season is a great time to share the love of Jesus. Who is someone you can share that love with in a practical, tangible way this week? Is there someone in your neighborhood who could use an act of kindness? Is there someone that you will come in contact as you go to school or work this week who could use a kind word or encouragement? Pray for that person (those people) by name, and ask God for the courage and the opportunity to share His love with them this week (and actually do it)!

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