The bull of St Luke


Chapter 6 Overview
The New Israel: Luke 6,12-49

We read the first part of the chapter, 6,1-11, with the previous chapter because it concludes the confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees. That ended with the Pharisees discussing what they might do with Jesus (6,11). The breakdown of relations between Jesus and the Pharisees is the background for what now follows.

The second part of chapter 6 which we are now reading gives us therefore a major presentation by Jesus. First, he chooses the twelve (6,12-16) and teaching then follows, the Sermon on the Plain (6,17-49).

We need to establish our outline especially for the sermon by reading the passage carefully and looking for the clues left by the evangelist. We need to consider breaks both major and minor. This close reading of the passage to establish its unity will then provide guidance for our interpretation, the theme of the evangelist at this point in his story.

First, let us look at 6,12 and confirm what we saw earlier, that this verse is a new beginning. Now read on and see where the next major break comes. For this you will need to continue into the beginning of chapter 7. That will therefore give us the beginning and the end of the presentation.

Next, let us see how the text gives us three parts to the presentation, of which by far the longest will be the sermon beginning in verse 20.

Then we can look within the sermon itself. Here you will again find the indications in the text which enable us to find its subdivisions by looking for three similar expressions.

Once you have done that, then make a preliminary reflection on why I am calling this presentation "The New Israel"

These few lines will have given you a lot of basic work. However, all the answers are to be found in the text itself. When you are ready, go to my response.

Having done all the groundwork, this is a good moment to do another preliminary task - a brief comparison of Luke's Sermon on the Plain with Matthew's much longer Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7)

The Sermon on the Plain and the Sermon on the Mount: Lk 6,20-49 and Mt 5-7

The sermon on the plain looks like a cut-down version of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, chapters 5-7. We will be seeing how Luke uses later on in the Gospel much of the material he has left out here.
Therefore, list out the various units in the sermon on the plain and compare them with the Sermon on the Mount. Most Bibles give helpful cross references. Don't get lost in detail, we just need to make a note of the main similarities and dissimilarities between the two sermons.

Then go again to my response.

We are now ready to read the first two parts of the presentation which give us the background to the sermon, Lk 6,12-19.