Luke 6:27-35 27 “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 either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.
My Goals in the sermon
Today I have an odd task, which is to convince you that the bible means exactly what it says. Which should not be hard theoretically since we are bible believing Church but I am sure that all of you have read “love your enemies” many times and yet many of you have either chosen to ignore this little bit of Jesus teaching, or you think it means something very different then what it means.
GOAL 1 – To convince you that when the bible says, “Love your enemies” it means love your enemies.
Second I need to define exactly what Jesus means by “Love your enemies” because there is a way to take this text that makes the “enemies” that Jesus speaks of some far off people, like Nazi’s. Now it’s hard to love Nazi’s after they chased the blues brothers around and such but this is not the only thing that Jesus is getting at when he says, “Love your enemies
GOAL 2 – TO show you exactly who Jesus is talking about when He says “Love your Enemies”
Third I need to show you the gospel power that enables us to live a life like this. It is not natural to love your enemies. Our instincts are to Love our friends and hate our enemies.
GOAL 3 – Only the Gospel enables us to love our enemies.
POINT 1 – “Love your enemies, means love your enemies”
But I say to you who hear,
Love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you,
pray for those who abuse you.
Here we have the main command, “love your enemies” as well as three additional commands that explain the main command. To begin to understand this we need to understand what it means to Love, and what it means to be an enemy.
WHAT IT MEANS TO LOVE
So as I say again and again words have a semantic range that are defined by their context in a sentence or paragraph. So to understand what Jesus means by love here we need to back up to the great commandments.
Luke 10:27 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
The whole law is summed up in these to commandments, love for God and love for neighbour. Love for God is in worshipping Him, loving him. But Love for nieghbor can be a little more squishy, in Fact later in Luke when Jesus teaches the two great commandments the Law Teacher evades the point by asking “Who is my neghbour”. To which Jesus responds with the parable of the Good Samaritan, in which as we know the preist and levite passed by while the samaritain, AN ENEMY of the Jewish people stopped, and cared for the man. Love is stopping to care for the unfortunate soul that God puts in your path. When Jesus Jesus says, “Love your enemies”, he is explaining the extent of “Love your nieghbour as yourself”. Love in this context is not exatclty ‘Have warm feelings towards”, but to care for another like you care for yourself. To love an enemy is to have care and concern for your enemy that you do your friends and family. This idea of caring for your enemies is not new to Jesus, It was always in God’s law.
Exodus 23:4 4 “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him.
You were to share care and concern for even your enemies donkey!
To Love an enemy is to show the care and concern for an enemies person, property and well being. It is to want the best for your enemy.
WHAT IS AN ENEMY
So I already said that we can imagine Nazi’s being our enemies. Some far off faceless person, and perhaps when we read this we can well up some feelings of love towards them and then move on with our lives. But this is not what Jesus is talking about. Because as I’ve already pointed out, Jesus is defining the second great commandment. What does it mean to “Love your nieghbor as yourself”? Jesus is making sure that we understand that nieghbour is not just our freinds and family (at least the ones we like) it is not just peopel we share cultural and politcal values with, but our neighbour is everyone we meet. So Jesus is not just saying to Love your arch enemy, but Jeuss is saying to love your friends, Love you co-workers, Love the drunk guy your walked past last week, Love the person who gossips about you, and even love the person who might be trying to rob you, hurt you, or even kill you. We are called in Jesus Christ to Love, that is to show care, concern and wish the best for every person on this earth we meet from our closest friend to our most bitter enemy.
HOW CAN WE POSSIBLY LOVE OUR ENEMIES?
Thankfully Jesus gives us clarifying commands about how we are to love our enemies and then some examples that I’m going to try to give more modern updates for you.
Love your enemies by
do good to those who hate you,
Jesus, as the greatest teacher who ever walked the earth drills into our good intentions and nice thoughts about “Love your enemeis” by getting very specific We might have a notion that we care for enemies, we might post nice sentiments on our facebook wall, but here is where the sandal meets the cobblestone. Jesus says, “Do good to those who hate you” When there are people that I don’t like, I often feel like the best that I can do is just stay away. To keep my distance so I don’t say or do something that I will regret, but mostly because I don’t want to be reminded of them. But here Jesus teaches us that we are not just to tolerate those that we don’t like, but we are actually do good to them. For example. Your boss, I hope you have a good boss but not everyone does. (I'm thinking of your Madonna) But your boss is a jerk and demanding, he treats you poorly and publicly shames you. Our innate worldly response is to be bad at our jobs, to play solitaire as much as possible and do the bare minimum of work in order as not to be fired. But Jesus says, “Do good to those who hate you”, So instead of trying to punish your boss by being difficult, work extra hard, be extra kind, show love.
Love your enemies by
bless those who curse you,
Being curse out is not fun. I remember my English composition class at the university of Minnesota. I was making some argument about something, I was probably being a self important blowhard, you are lucky to have not known me when I was 18. But an older lady in the class got so mad at me that she called me a bleeping Nazi, got up and actually left the class. So I sefl righteously sat there and scoffed at her loss of temper. I did not feel bad for her for one second, I was happy she was angry and upset. And this was wrong of me. When we are cursed we are called to bless. Blessing here is Ask God’s flavor for someone. The prototypical event that showed this was Jesus on the cross.
ESV Luke 23:34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Some people mistakenly say that Jesus Forgives the people on the cross, but that is not what he is doing, he is asking God to forgive them. This is a blessing, Jesus asks that God would show the people who where unjustly murdering the Him mercy and grace. Jesus is looking down on these people who were in the midst of committing the worst crime in history and gives a blessing. God is calling you in this, “bless those who curse you,” This means that when you are called names, when you are treated unfairly, when you are the victim of terrible things, God is calling you to speak words of life, love and blessing to the persecutors themselves.
Love your enemies by
pray for those who abuse you.
Abuse refers to persecution for ones faith, but is also a little more broad then that. It’s probably not important, just fleshing out the different ways that people are enemies to you, and fleshing out what it means to love. We are supposed to pray for our enemies. Now it’s not “Oh Lord Destroy them”, because the context is praying that good things happen for your enemies. I don’t pretend that this is easy. Imagine the worst thing possible. It’s hard to even bring my mind to think about, what if one of my kids was to be abducted, abused and killed. The man who does it is captured and is on trial, every fibre of my being wants hell for this person. I could kill them myself. And yet, Love you enemies. How do I pray?
In my heart two realities have to be very present for me.
1) I need to know that God will judge. Because if I am going to be able to show love and grace towards this monster, I need to know that yes there is a judge in the world and I am not it. Because I could torture and kill this man, but it would not even begin to describe the horror’s of Hell, where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. I can lay down my anger, and my cries for vengeance, not because of some warm sentiments about humans being ok, but because I know God will judge with more ferocity, and greater clarity than I ever could.
Paul reminds us with startling clarity.
Romans 12:19 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
2) The second fact that I need to have driven deep into my heart is the gospel.
Because as monstrous as such a man would be to abduct a daughter, God still offer him a chance to repent and find forgiveness in Jesus Christ. And I, even though I have committed less monstrous sins, was guilty of that same Hell and separation from God as that man. And I was lost in my sin, and who knows where it would end up had God not saved me and set me on a different path.
Romans 5:8 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
And so knowing that God is both just and forgiving in Christ. I am called to wish well for such a man, to pray for him, to show him kindness because it is the love that has been poured into my heart through Jesus Christ.
Now He will go to jail, I pray that others would be protected from his evil. But at the same time I pray that he would repent of his sin, come to Christ, and that some day I would be able to embrace him as a brother in Christ.
JESUS SAYS A FEW MORE THINGS THAT WE SHOULD NOT MISS.
Luke 6:29-30 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 either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.
Four commands. I think these are illustartions of the main point to “Love your enemy” although Jesus takes the command in some directions we might not have thought of. Because they are illustrations of the point I don’t think they are meant to be taken in a strict literal sense, but guide our interpretation of the principal of love towards ones enemy. The one who “Strikes” you cheek, problably Slap is closer here? The idea is more of an insult then a physical strike. This is a picture of what it means to love our enemies. We in our flesh are kind towards others, untill they hurt us, then we want to strike back or run away. But Jesus says when someone hurts you, come right back. As soon as I write these words, a bunch of thoughts flood my head. The first you are probably thinking. So, I’m on a date with my boyfriend, he get’s mad and hits me I’m I supposed to just turn the other cheek? First of all, in that particular situation, call the police, and never date the guy again In short, in life there are going to be situation’s where you can simply walk away from, and along with wisdom and wise council you probably should. But there are other situations where you may not be able to walk away, and you are called to pateint endurance, and just because someone treats you poorly does not give you the right to strike back, be angry.
and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.
If someone takes away you coat, give them your shirt and pants too. This could happen in a lawsuit, if you could not pay your debt they could take you coat, but not your undershirt, the law protected the inner layer of clothing from being taken due to unpaid depts. Literally losing the shirt off our backs may have been a actual situation for the earthly Church's
Romans 8:35 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
The point for us is that how many times have you been slighted financially? Someone overchared you or messed up a bill or sued you. Jesus is calling us not to unduely worry, stand up for truth, but even if we are left with nothing, we can hand it over because we do not live on bread alone, we know
Matthew 6:30 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
SO the next time somoen steals form you, overcharges you. Love them, pray for them, bless them, show them kindness. This does not preclude standing up for your legal rights but it changes how we apply them, with love, instead of angry cried for retribution.
30 Give to everyone who begs from you,
I have to tell you the truth that I feel guilty everytime I give a panhandler a dollar, I did it this week. I feel guilty because everytime I do so I know that Dollar is not going to help them, but there are ways to help the panhandler. There are organizations that will feed and cloth them. There are places to get help from substance abuse, but just giving them a dollar does not help them one bit. Beggars in Jesus day often would starve to death without the generosity of others. The point is to show love without end to those in need. If that is taking a beggar out to lunch, volunteering at the soup kitchen, begginign to do foster care. We need to help .
and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.
When you unjustly lose your property. Don’t worry, still show love to the person who took them. Love your enemy. Jesus calls us not to have natural love for those who we need something from but to love those who can’t offer us anything but trouble. The reason we love like this, is that in Christ we have been loved like that, and still are everyday. Because Through Faith in Christ, God loves us even when we treat him like an enemy
God blesses us when we curse him
He lifts us up when we trea him poorly
His love dies not stop when we ignore him
He love never dims when we take the things that belong to him.
He gives when we beg
He never makes us pay anything back, everything we get from God is a gift
So in Christ, we are called to love as God loves, empowered by his spirit, To show the world what grace really means.