The Doers and the Hearers

27 Nov

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Jesus concludes his sermon on the plain by pointing to those who address him saying: “Lord, Lord…” (Luke 6:46). He also concluded his sermon on the mount with people addressing him in the same manner, but in Matthew 7:21-22 Jesus pointed to the false teacher who had done many evil works. In Luke 6:46, on the other hand, Jesus directed his words to disciples who call out to him: “Lord, Lord…” but they don’t act like they want to hear what he says to them. Jesus is asking: What purpose is your cry: “Lord, Lord…”[1] if you have no interest in what I say? If one addresses the Lord, shouldn’t he listen for his reply? This seems to be what Jesus is asking.

This may raise the question, if those who act in pretense (Matthew 7:21-22) are the enemies of Christ, are those whom many consider nominal Christians today (Luke 6:46) Jesus’ enemies as well? Although some people may count them enemies, I would have to say they are not. As much as I can tell, superficiality is often a characteristic of little faith, and little faith receives but a mild rebuke from the Lord (Matthew 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8). Those whom Jesus addresses in Matthew 7:21-22 are sternly rebuked and called workers of iniquity (Matthew 7:23). Paul tells us that those who simply aren’t obedient should not be counted as our enemies, and even names them as brethren (cf. 2Thessalonians 3:14-15), but those mentioned in Matthew 7:21-22 are another story entirely (cf. Galatians 1:8-9).

Those who listen to what Jesus tells them and obey are the doers of the word (Luke 6:47-48), and their works will last when they are tried by the storms of life. On the other hand, those who hear only (Luke 6:49) and don’t obey what Jesus says will not have lasting works. That is, when their labor is tested with the storms of life, their labor will be destroyed, because what these have done wasn’t founded upon the Rock (Christ). Brethren who don’t trust Jesus enough to do as he says delude themselves (James 1:22-24). They labor for that which doesn’t last (cf. 1Corinthians 3:11, 14-15).

In the sermon on the plain Jesus addressed ordinary people and their troubles and those among them who abuse and take advantage of them. To the one he says they are blessed, in that their present troubles have put them in a place where they are apt to listen to Christ and improve their lives. However, they must not merely listen; they must also obey. Otherwise, their efforts to improve their lives will fail. The others, to whom Jesus speaks, he warns that, unless they repent and listen and take him seriously, they will place themselves in want, the kind of want that their present wealth would be useless to address.

An interesting point is that Jesus doesn’t seem to challenge anyone to make a decision to follow him, as he did with Peter (Luke 5:10-11) and Matthew (Luke5:27-28). Rather, he simply tells the people to listen to him and do as he says. Therefore, he seems to place a difference between those who come to Christ and learn from him and those who come to him and make a full commitment to him. The one seems to be more mature and bears the greater responsibility, while the other seems to have little faith and requires more care and nourishment, but in no way should be treated as an enemy. Rather, both the doer and the hearer are brethren.


[1] The double use of someone’s name was a strengthened form of address (cf. Genesis 22:11; 46:2; Exodus 3:4; 1Samuel 3:10).

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Posted by on November 27, 2016 in Gospel of Luke


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