Summary: Towards the end of the Sermon on the mount Jesus gives His disciples the imperative to Love Our Enemies. In this message we consider the Who, What, Why and How of loving our enemies.
The word ‘disciple’ Gk word in NT appears 270x - means ‘thought accompanied by endeavour’ - it means to ‘adhere to’ to ‘stick to’; ‘follow’ NT 90x.
Christian = disciple, resurgence of not separating Lord & Saviour?
1. Who – enemies /neighbour?
2. Why – love your enemies?
3. What - does loving your enemies look like? - HOW?
1. Who are your Enemies / Neighbours – Matthew 5: 43
Jewish rabbis taught and established a popular view of God’s command Lev 19: 17-18 they created a contrast Neighbours & Enemies and they defined ‘enemies’. The Gentiles were no better Greek teaching was ‘hurt more than you are hurt’.
Jesus radically defines ‘neighbour’ Luke 10:25-37 the parable of the Good Samaritan. With this definition there is only scope for neighbours and no one else.
2. Why – Love your Enemies – Matthew 5: 45-48
There are many reasons why we are to love our enemies. Here are few that compel us to love our enemies:
i Copy our Father and Jesus vv 45-48. It has to be centred in God and Christ – it is proof that we are His children. The world loves its own we who love God are called to imitate our Father and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
ii All people are made in the image of God – Matt 22: 15-22 Caesar’s image on the coin. We are required to render to God the things that are God’s – all humans are imprinted with the image of God and thus we are to love them on the basis that they are God’s image bearers however that image may be due to sin.
iii We are all by nature alike – at enmity with God, Rom 8: 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God for it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot. Humility and self realisation should lead us to love our enemies.
We who are now believers have tasted the goodness, grace and mercy of God Rom 5: 8 But God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. As Luke 6: 36 says, Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Christ and the Cross are the greatest reasons to love our enemies.
iv The love of God is a reason why we should love our enemies. It is tied to the grace of God. Paul knew exactly this point in Acts 26: 27-29 when he was before King Agrippa - King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.”And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to god that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am – except for these chains.”
v Forgiveness is another reason why we should love our enemies. We have been forgiven and we are commanded to forgive others Matt 6: 9-15, but if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you v14. The power of forgiveness.
vi The Gospel and the great commission - Go make disciples Matt 28:18-20 Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. We are commanded to add to God’s people by bringing the Good News of reconciliation. This task should be one both in both obedience and love – it is the action of a child of God acting according to a renewed nature.
3. What does loving your enemies look like? HOW – Matthew 5:44
Luke 6 tells us in practical terms the how and what of loving our enemies –
V 27 do good to those who hate you Romans 12:20 Do not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good
V28 bless those who curse you - pray for those who persecute you The power of praying for all people especially your enemies
V29 turn the other cheek if they strike you, give them your cloak and your tunic
V 30 give of your goods and expect no return
The Golden Rule – V 31 Do unto others as you would have them do to you
Matt 5: 47 tells us to greet them
This requires us being selflessness rather than self centred – in fact if we are Christ centred we are able to do this. Jesus modelled how we are to be as His disciples – His life was the supreme lesson on how to be and how to live as His disciples.