New International Version
Love for enemies
27 ‘But to you who are listening I say: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 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? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
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 and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’
39 Now He also spoke a parable to them: “A person who is blind cannot guide another who is blind, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A [b]student is not above the teacher; but everyone, when he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you look at the [c]speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the [d]speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the [e]speck that is in your brother’s eye. 43 For there is no good tree that bears bad fruit, nor, [f]on the other hand, a bad tree that bears good fruit. 44 For each tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. 45 The good person out of the good [g]treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil person out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from [h]that which fills his heart.
We are in the midst of a series of readings over the last few weeks that have all come from the Gospel of Luke, a series which helps us to understand who Jesus is. They help us to understand what his mission was. It is a good time to get to know better the Jesus who we will follow to the cross very soon during the season of Lent, and then Holy Week. We will leave this series of stories behind next week, as we remember that strange event of the Transfiguration of Jesus, and from there, move into Lent with Ash Wednesday.
But we have been spending some time in the book of Luke, looking at Jesus’ baptism, his announcement of his mission, his first miracle. Last week we heard of the beatitudes, or blessings, and also the woes, from what is known as the ”Sermon on the plain” in Luke. And half-way through that Sermon on the Plain is where we find ourselves today.
Luke records these words of Jesus, that contained much of the same material that Matthew records in his “Sermon on the mount” but has some unique sections as well. Jesus has so far in the Gospel of Luke outlined his mission in his first synagogue sermon: Good news for the poor. Now the poor in Luke was anyone who was outside, downtrodden, sick, struggling. Anyone who was “othered” by society (and I think this is a term we need to know.) His Kingdom will be good news for these people.
Then in the unfolding of the book of Luke we see a whole lot of healings, which are Jesus showing what this upside-down kingdom of his is going to look like: It is the reversal of the life circumstances of all sorts of people. He heals the sick, forgives a prostitute, welcomes a tax collector (who was not financially poor but was ostracised by the community). Welcoming those who had been “othered” or placed on the outer by society was a big part of this new kingdom.
Then last week in the beginning of the sermon on the plain we heard what the Bible project (Overview: Luke 1-9 - YouTube) calls “Jesus’ manifesto for life in the upside-down kingdom”. It was his teaching about what life in the Kingdom would be like, and what his followers, or disciples, would be expected to do. If you want to know more, please when you go home take some time to look up The Bible project, which is a great resource, and specifically, the video on the first half of the book of Luke. It will only take about 8 minutes to watch.
In his teaching that we read today Jesus hands on this topsy-turvy upside-down kingdom work to us now. He gives seven commands to his followers that are especially important now in a time when many Christian people feel under attack as members of his Kingdom. They give us a blueprint as to how to respond.
he wants us to:
1. Love your enemies,
2. Do good to those who hate you.
3. Bless those who curse you.
4. Pray for those who ill-treat you.
5. Turn the other cheek to the one who strikes you.
6. Give generously to everyone who asks you.
7. Do to others as you would have them do to you
Again, this is life in an upside-down kingdom.
All of these are the opposites of the way that things normally work. In fact some of these, such as the concept of turning the other cheek to those who strike you, are the opposite of the Old Testament understanding eg. an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. (Exodus 21) So God here hands down ways of living that are the opposite of the very ways of living that he has handed down in the past.
Then Jesus goes on to outline four laws.
One or two are laws for life in the kingdom, some are just statements of the way things are: like teaching a child the law of gravity does not mean that they must follow it or else they will fly off the planet, as if they have a choice, it is simply an observation about the way things are. This happens, whether you like it or not.
The first of these occurs in our text for today, but I am going to outline the other 3, that come after today’s text in Luke, because we will not get a chance to deal with them before next week.
These have been called:
The law of reciprocity. (Do not judge and you will not be judged, give and it will be given to you)
The law of leadership (verses 39–40), (the blind leading the blind, a student not being above his teacher))
The law of perspective (verses 41–42), (take the log from your own eye before the speck in someone else’s)
The law of the harvest (verses 43–45). Good trees produce good fruit, bad trees= bad fruit)
Now as much as we always say that Jesus did not come to be another law-giver, it is important to realise that he came to fulfil the law, not to do away with it. He would teach that he was the coming Messiah, and that, contrary to the grand dreams the Jewish people had for the Messiah, that he would be a great priest who would explain the law, or a great military ruler who would lead them to victory over the Romans, that the Messiah was instead the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, and that he had to die.
Again, everything is upside-down with this, and not at all what the people understood, or wanted.
Next week we will see him transfigured on a mountaintop talking with Moses and Elijah about his coming exodus, or his leaving, which would be after his suffering, death and resurrection.
Jesus would fulfil everything in the law of Moses, and the Father’s will, and his new Kingdom would be left to 12 disciples, not 12 tribes of Israel.
Now it is up to us to change the life circumstances of those who have been “othered” by society. The young, the old, the poor, sick, LGBTIQ, all have a place in God’s kingdom. And Jesus would go to the cross for the sins of all of them, and the sins committed AGAINST all of them.
Mila joins that unique, misunderstood, upside-down kingdom of God today. Not “othered” by us and placed on the outside because she is too young to understand, God’s covenant is with her and for her, too.
The fourth guiding principle of St Marks is inclusivity, and it is based on that which was shown by Jesus himself. Jesus went out of his way to break down every man-made barrier that he came up against. He included those who had been “othered” or placed on the outside by those who believed that they, and only they, were on the inside.
Soon, we watch as Jesus goes to Jerusalem to his death. His death is not for a select few, but for all. As members of his upside-down kingdom, let us be very careful not to exclude those who Jesus wants us to include: Everyone.