Jesus is the Son of Man
Love your Enemies!
All right! Let’s turn in your Bibles to Luke chapter 6. As usual, if you do not have a Bible, or if you know someone who needs a Bible, please see me after the service and we will get a Bible into your hands.
So, we are looking at Luke’s Gospel, we started this past fall. We are in a section now of Jesus teachings that is referred to as the Sermon on the Plain. There is a lot of crossover in content between this section and the Sermon on the Mount on Matthew chapters 5-7.
Luke has spent a lot of time establishing the authority that Jesus had, including but not limited to his Authority over the scriptures. He has the authority to interpret scripture correctly and the authority to show us the correct understanding of what the scripture means.
Now this is not usually in doubt, not usually contested, at least with in the church. But there are some you may come across who think that only the words in red are Jesus words. Therefore, in that line of thinking, the rest of the Bible, usually speaking of Paul’s letters and the Old Testament, these are not inspired, there are contradictions and only what Jesus said in the Gospels counts. We know of course the this is a gross heresy. All scripture is God breathed, 2 Timothy 3:16 and Jesus is the word of God, John 1.
In the passage we are going to read and look at this morning, we are going to see Jesus, not add to the commandments, not contradicting what the Old Testament says, but instead explaining the full and complete intent of them.
So, lets go ahead and read this mornings scripture, Luke chapter 6, verses 27 through 36. As always, Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. I do encourage you to go ahead and read, follow along in your preferred translation reading for yourself.
Luke 6:27-36, Luke records the teachings of Jesus, writing:
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic[b] either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Thus, saith the LORD.
Ok, so when Jesus delivers similar content in the Sermon on the Mount, he repeatedly tells the crowd, “You have heard it said one way, but I say to you, this is the true meaning.” And one of the ones he addresses is the one we are looking at this morning. He says in Matthew 5:43, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
And here in Luke, Jesus tells the crowd, “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
Now, some of the things that Jesus is telling them that they heard wrong are misunderstandings of things found in scriptures. However, this is one where this statement is not found in scripture. Nor, if read in context, is anything that can be misconstrued as that.
But it was. It was a misunderstanding, possibly purposefully, at least at first, of who is my neighbor. The Jewish people thought that it was only those in the Abrahamic covenant, circumcised Jews. The ones who had the most open view, thought that it pertained to all of Israel, but no further. It was a very limited view. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this, but Jesus makes it quite clear in the parable of the Good Samaritan that our definition of neighbor is not to be limited.
But it sounds so inviting, doesn’t it? Love your neighbor but hate your enemy. It just makes sense. It’s easy to see, to feel and to understand. It’s what we all want to do. There is nothing else that makes sense to do except hate your enemies. It’s hard enough sometimes to love those close to us. Why should we have to do it to those that hate us, fear us, sin against us, those that don’t love us? We deserve to be able to hate those people. And we limit our definition of neighbor is limited because it’s easier to live life with a limited definition. It limits who we have to love.
Jesus says NO. We don’t get to take the easy way out. We don’t get to live the easy life, our best life now. We don’t get to hate our enemies. We don’t get to just feel animosity to those who hate us. But we are to love our enemies. Whether or not they love us. And we are to pray for those who persecute us. Bless those who curse you. Do good to those who do you harm. That’s the definition of the hard way. That is Jesus raising the bar well above, both what we thought it was and what we are comfortable living.
This is not optional; this is a necessary result of being called a child of God. And if we are saved, if we have trusted in Jesus Christ as our LORD, as our Savior, if we have been transformed by the Holy Spirit, then we are told that we need to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
Now, of course, just listening to this so far, we know that this is one of the hardest passages of scripture to obey. This calls us to obedience not only in our physical acts, but even more than that, in our heart. This requires a change in heart, from worldly and sinful, from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. This is something that no one but Christ can change.
RC Sproul says that this is one of the most radical teachings that ever came to us from Jesus lips. We are called to love our enemies as Christ loved us when we were his enemies. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, Romans 5:8.
Now, of course it doesn’t say that the kind of love we are talking about here is the warm, fuzzy feeling love. Nor is it of course, romantic love. This love is a verb. Its s action. As Jesus said, do good to those who do you harm. Act loving to them and it will change the situation.
We may never change the people who curse, who want to do us harm. We may never change the way they treat us or think about us. But we are called to be in the world, but not of it. We are called to be better than the standards of the world. We are called to fight hate with love. We are called to expel darkness with the light of the Gospel. We are called to higher standards than the world has set for itself.
Its hard. It doesn’t seem fair. But if things were fair, we would have no grace, no salvation. WE can’t control fair. We can’t control other people. WE can only control ourselves.
If we can control ourselves, we take power away from those wish us harm. The pleasure they can get from treating us poorly is greatly diminished when they see that it doesn’t bother us.
Any one with multiple kids can tell you, at some point, one or all of them will provoke their siblings just for the fun of it. And of course, the siblings fall for it and lash out at the sibling. How many times have I had to tell them, don’t react, don’t give them the attention they are looking for? The same goes for adults. Don’t give them the attention they are looking for. There’s the old saying, don’t wrestle with a pig in the mud, it just makes you dirty and the pig likes it.
A couple of scriptures to consider:
Proverbs 25:21-22: If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat,
and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,
22 for you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the LORD will reward you.
Romans 12:21: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
In fact, leading up to that, Romans 12:14-21:
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[h] Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
And part of what we had Frank read this morning, 1 Peter 3:9:
9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
In verse31, Jesus shares with us a version of the Golden Rule, And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. Every example of this concept we have recorded in history before Jesus was worded negatively. Don’t do to others what you would not want them to do to you. Jesus, as he is wont to do, and is really good at, turns everything on its head. Actively do good to others as you would want them to do good to you. Not as they are doing to you. Not as they promised to do to you. But as you would want them to do to you. This has huge and radical, relevant implications for every conceivable situation you could ever be in. (That’s not too big of a statement, is it?)
As I talk with Pastor friends of mine, we often discuss things we agree on and disagree on. One of them, his name is Ryan, put into words better than I could some thoughts on this passage, starting with the Golden Rule that I want to share with you:
Those who use wrong B to avoid the implications of wrong A are seeking to do unto others as has been done to them. This is a corruption of Christ’s teaching. An inversion. It is a form of returning reviling for reviling- something condemned from stem to stern in scripture. It is a form of avoiding accountability and is the opposite of a heart of humility and repentance. If a wrong is papered over because of a) it’s comparison to another wrong, or b) because of the good that the offender(s) have done, we pervert righteousness in Christ alone, and are measuring righteousness by works (either of others or of the one/s being addressed).
So many papered over his grotesque sins because of perceived benefit to the Kingdom. The kingdom is not advanced by our actions- but through our actions by the hand of God. More souls are saved as a result of proper humility before the Lord than through the smooth words of a gross hypocrite.
Think of all the examples in the OT of those who would corrupt their means to achieve the perceived righteous ends. And those who didn’t. (Gideon, for one example.) God *can* work through the evil that is done under the sun. However, we who are believers are called to live lives of holiness, lives of not returning reviling for reviling, but trusting that the Lord will require justice for the evil done in the world. We are to be holy, as He is holy. This means that we are to have tongues, hand, and feet which rush to acts of righteousness, not tongues, hands, and feet that rush to acts of sin. James’s sections on the tongue are a HUGE part of this. How can both bitter and sweet come from the same spring?
Those are wise words we would be wise to consider and meditate on.
And it touches on the last part of what Jesus said that we are looking at this morning. Verses 32-36, Luke records:
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
How easy is it to fall into the easy way? I’m the same as those I disagree with and make fun of. They do it, so why can’t we? Social Media especially makes it really easy to fall into this. Memes and pictures with quotes that are sometimes true and in context, but more often, out of context or just completely made up. And we see these, and they are designed to paint the subject in the most negative light possible. And we share these with glee, laughing at the person and the people that agree with them and not giving it a moments thought on how these actions line up with Gods commands.
Even if we are on the receiving end of this sort of treatment, we are not to respond to it. We are not to give back what we are receiving. WE are called to suffer humiliation over and over again on behalf of Christ. WE look to him as our example, When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly, 1 Peter 2:23.
Within that however, it can be easy to get beaten down, cynical, frustrated. But we can not let their hatred break our spirit, our love, and our generosity. WE also need to remember that being right is only half the battle. (I really want to say that knowing is the other half of the battle, Yo Joe!) But we are to not only speak the truth, we are commanded to speak the truth in love, Ephesians 4.
We are to give generously, without conditions or expectations. We can’t outgive God. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we are not to be responsible, but that we are to trust God and give cheerfully and sacrificially. One practical example, I don’t lend out books that I couldn’t live with not getting back. Now, of course, I want to get them back, unless I specify otherwise. But If it would be a big deal to not get them back, I just won’t lend them out.
We are to be kind to ungrateful, unjust, and unmerciful people. We are to show grace, just as God showed us grace.
God’s grace is by definition, undeserved. When we think of God’s grace, we mainly think of his saving grace. We think of his forgiveness, his mercy, the promise of eternity in Heaven with him. Those things that we cannot even begin to deserve. The truth is we deserve the exact opposite, but God has given us his saving grace through faith alone in Christ to His glory alone.
And that is an accurate and right thing to think of when we think of his grace. But there is another grace that he pours out. It’s called common grace. His saving grace is poured out on those who are called his children, those who are covered in Christs righteousness. Those who are followers of him. Common grace is poured out on all people indiscriminately.
The sun rises and sets on both the good and the evil. The rain falls on both the just and the unjust. We see things like doctors and medicine that all people are able to benefit from, jobs and income that all are able to use to provide for their families, music, sports, art, food, all given to all people to enjoy. Even nature itself, given for us to enjoy and for us to see God revealing himself in. Given to all people.
As the saying goes, this is the closest to heaven that unbelievers will ever get. They get glimpses. They get signs, they get common grace designed to point them to who God is and to His Son Jesus Christ. But without believing in him, this is as close as they will get. On the other side, if you are a believer, if you are a follower of Christ, a disciple. This is the closest to Hell that we will ever get.
But, again, we don’t get to take the easy road. Jesus makes sure that we understand that he is raising the bar. He wants us to have no mistake that we are expected to be better, to live up to a higher standard. He says it’s easy to love those who love us. Everyone does that.
He has raised the bar. The standard that God has is perfection. What the scriptures do, what Jesus does, what we are to do is to show, both, the impossible standard that that is to live up to, and the wholly undeserved grace that is poured out on all who believe and follow Christ.
And how we treat others is one of the ways that we show that. We show the love of Christ by the way we love others. The parallel, the correlation is clear. The way we treat others is not dependent on how they treat us. Just as, the way that God treats us, the love that he shows us, the grace he pours out in us is not dependent on how we treat him. Because if it were, we would all be in hell. Not destined for hell, but upon our first sin, we would be immediately sent there. We are in constant rebellion against Gods sovereign reign over his creation. God says, I love you anyway, here is grace.
The choice we have to make is whether we settle for common grace, and often if we choose this, we will raise the things that God has graced us with, we will raise them up as idols. We can settle for common grace or we can accept his true loving, sacrificial saving grace. And when we choose that path, Gods saving grace, we need to remember that it was while we were unlovable, while we were yet sinners, that Christ dies for us.