Summary: Let's consider the things Jesus probably did not mean when He said, "Love your enemies." Then I want us to look at some of the things He did mean. (Powerpoints available - #117)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Th Powerpoints used with this sermon are available for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request PP #117.)
Last Sunday we turned to the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in the Book of Matthew & considered what Jesus was saying in Matthew 5:38 41. He said,
"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
"And if someone wants to sue you & take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”
Now let’s proceed on from there & look at the next few verses. In Matthew 5:43-47 Jesus says,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ but I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.
“He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
“And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
A. These words of Jesus are some of His most difficult words for us to understand, especially in our modern times. We wonder if it is really possible or desirable to obey what He is telling us to do here.
We are also a bit puzzled by them because in other scriptures we are told that "we are to resist evil, and to hate the evil things of this world." Yet, here we are told to "love our enemies."
At the same time, we look at Jesus & see Him knotting the cords, & driving the moneychangers out of the temple, & we think, "Is He practicing what He preaches? Does He really love those people that He is driving out of the temple? Just how are we to behave when we come face to face with evil people?"
ILL. What about some of the evil people of today? What about Hugo Chavez & Mahmoud Ahmadinejad & the hatred that they seem to spew out continuously toward the U.S.? Are we supposed to love them?
Are we to love all the evil people? If someone comes to my house to steal my TV, should I say, "Help yourself, & by the way, take my couch too, because I don't want you to be deprived of the comforts of life?"
Just exactly what is Jesus teaching here when He says that we are to "turn the other cheek, go the 2nd mile, & love our enemies”?
B. Because these are such difficult teachings, some tend to make excuses about why we do not obey them. Someone says, "Maybe Matthew made a mistake. Maybe he didn't hear Jesus correctly. So he recorded the wrong words."
Or, "Maybe Jesus didn't say what He meant to say. Sometimes when you are speaking publicly, you flub up & say things you really don't mean, so maybe Jesus said these words, but didn't really mean them."
Or, "If Matthew did quote Jesus correctly, & if Jesus did say exactly what He intended to say, then maybe they only apply to the time of Christ, & don't apply to us now." And on & on goes the list of excuses why we really do not need to obey these words.
C. But the truth of the matter is that Jesus really did speak these words, & He meant exactly what He said. Therefore we are to take them seriously & discover what He meant, & what He did not mean, when He said them.
PROP. I want us, this morning, to consider the things Jesus probably did not mean when He said, "Love your enemies." Then I want us to look at some of the things He did mean.
I. WHAT IS JESUS NOT SAYING WHEN HE SAYS "LOVE YOUR ENEMIES?"
Now let’s consider what Jesus is not saying when He says, "Love your enemies."
A. First of all, I don't believe this commandment is a "legalistic" commandment. Now, I want you to understand what I am saying. I don't think He means for us to take these words & apply them in a legalistic way. If we did, we would have to do certain things only if certain other things happened first.
When was the last time someone hit you on the right cheek? How long has it been since someone took your tunic? How long has it been since someone compelled you to go with him for a mile? Probably not recently, if ever at all.