The Sermon on the Plain in Luke's Gospel by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.
Contrasting the Sermons in Luke and Matthew:
“Sermon on the Plain” (Luke 6:17-49)
“Sermon on the Mount” (Matt 5:1—7:29)
Overnight prayer on a mountain;
Jesus chooses 12 apostles (6:12-16)
Summary of Jesus’ preaching (4:23)
[Jesus chooses apostles later: 10:1-4]
Intro & Setting
Comes down mountain; stands on a level place;
crowds; healings (6:17-19; cf. Mark 3:7-8)
Fame spreads; healings; crowds;
goes up mountain; sits (4:24-25; 5:1-2)
“After Jesus had finished all his sayings
in the hearing of the people,
he entered Capernaum.” (7:1)
“Now when Jesus had finished saying these things,
the crowds were astounded at his teaching, /
for he taught them as one having authority,
and not as their scribes. (7:28-29; cf. Mark 1:22)
Centurion of Capernaum (7:1-10)
[Cleansing Leper already in 5:12-16]
Cleansing a Leper (8:1-4)
Centurion of Capernaum (8:5-13)
Outline of Luke's Sermon on the Plain:
Beatitudes and woes (6:20-26)
Love of enemies (6:27-36)
Not judging (6:37-42)
Producing good fruit (6:43-49)
Detailed Contents of Luke’s Sermon on the Plain:
Beatitudes: “Blessed are…”
Woes: “Woe to you who…”
Love your enemies (do good, bless, pray)
“Turn the other cheek…”
Golden Rule: “Do unto others…”
“If you love only those…”
Love your enemies (repeated)
Be merciful… as God is
Do not judge/condemn (cf. Mk 4:24)
Can the blind lead the blind?
Disciples aren’t above teachers (cf. Jn 13:16)
Parable of specks and planks
Trees with good or bad fruit
Good/evil people produce good/evil
Don’t just call out, “Lord, Lord”
Parable of two houses
Four Beatitudes and Four Woes (Luke 6:20-26)
Luke: four contrasting pairs, actual social conditions, directed at Jesus’ disciples
Matthew: more statements; beatitudes more spiritual; woes more specifically directed at scribes & Pharisees
Luke: “Blessed are YOU who are poor, hungry now, weeping now, hated/insulted/etc.” (6:20b-23)
Matthew: “Blessed are THOSE who are poor in spirit, mourn, meek, hunger and thirst for righteous-ness, merciful, pure of heart, peacemakers, persecuted for righteousness’ sake…” (5:3-12)
Luke: “Woe to YOU who are rich, filled now, laugh now, spoken well of…” (6:24-36)
Matthew: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, blind guides, hypocrites, fools…” (23:13-36)
Full Text of Luke's Sermon (NRSV):
17 He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon.
18 They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured.
19 And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.
Beatitudes and Woes (6:20-26)
20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
22 “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.
23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.
26 “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
Love of Enemies (6:27-36)
27 “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
29 If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also;
and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.
30 Give to everyone who begs from you;
and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.
31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
34 If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.
Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Not Judging (6:37-42)
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged;
do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven;
38 give, and it will be given to you.
A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap;
for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit?
40 A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher.
41 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?
42 Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye?
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.
Producing Good Fruit (6:43-49)
43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit;
44 for each tree is known by its own fruit.
Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.
45 The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good,
and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil;
for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you?
47 I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them.
48 That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock;
when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built.
49 But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation.
When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.”
After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum.
Material from Matthew’s “Sermon on the Mount” not found in Luke or found elsewhere in Luke: