Reflection One: Who is Jesus?
Luke as a gospel writer has a different focus than the others. It is believed that Luke wrote his gospel many years after the events actually happened, and his main audience were non-Jewish people, primarily living in and around Greece. As a result, his gospel is more catered to the outcast and Jesus as one who accepts and teaches all people. This attempt at reaching a wider community outside of the Jewish community at the time is shown throughout his entire gospel before our verses today. When he presents the genealogy of Jesus, Luke does not start at Abraham, but rather at Adam, and by doing so makes the case that Jesus is for all people.
At the beginning of chapter 6 leading into our verses today, Jesus is challenging what is and is not allowed on the Sabbath. First, Jesus and the disciples picked grain, which was considered work and therefore not permitted on the Sabbath. Then, Jesus healed a man in the temple who had a shriveled hand. When the Pharisees asked him why he was doing these things that were expressly forbidden on the Sabbath, Jesus responded by saying “I am the Lord of the Sabbath. Doing the right thing and helping people is more important than respecting old traditions. This answer is an opening to people who were not raised with traditional Jewish customs, showing that God’s love and generosity through Christ has no limits. Anyone who wants to can follow him can, and there are no restrictions on the benefits one receives from being a follower of Christ.
This all leads into chapter 6, verse 12, where Jesus goes onto a mountainside to pray. This, too, is Luke making an effort to include all people. Jesus is not unattainable at the top of the mountain. He is on the side, halfway up, balancing being both human and the Son of God. It is through this imagery that Luke is trying to show that Jesus is relatable to everyone, yet also is divine and worth following.
Just before he gives the sermon on the plain, Jesus calls his disciples. This is not an ordinary, hey how’s it goin guys, kind of call. Jesus names them all after spending the night getting closer to God. The disciples see him differently after this night of praying, and his naming of them. They understand more of who Jesus really is, the Son of God, sent to Earth for all people. Montreat to me has always resonated with this story for me. When I would go to the high school youth conference there, my youth group would always spend one early morning climbing lookout mountain. Montreat is already a thin place where it is easy to feel the presence of God, but there is something unbelievably powerful about watching the sunrise over the mountain range from the top. Lookout mountain is not an inaccessible mountaintop, hiding behind steep cliffs, but a trail that, while difficult at times, can be completed. Coming back down from that hike with the vision of the deep purples and oranges in the sky, and the feeling that I got even closer to God in a thin place, gives a framing for how I spent the rest of my time at the conference. I imagine this is a similar feeling to what the disciples had when they came down to the plain after being named by Jesus. This man is our teacher, our friend, and this man is the Son of God with a vision for helping all people.
-Jack Mountain, PCM Student