Summary: Jesus refutes the false teaching of the Pharisee’s regarding loving their neighbors.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ 44“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47“If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
In the verses which preceed Matthew 5:43, which is what we looked at last Sunday, Jesus has plainly laid before us the principle of self denial for the Christian. He has in a way raised the question, “Is it not better to lay down you rights to certain things, for the sake of others and especially for the sake of God’s Kingdom?”
We finished last Sunday with a quote from George Mueller in which he said there came a day when he had died to himself, he was no longer controlled or driven by the likes, dislikes, wants and desires or even the needs of himself.
This morning I want to begin with a quote from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:
“No man can practice what our Lord illustrates here unless he has finished with himself, with his right to himself, his right to determine what he shall do, and especially must he finish with what we commonly call the “rights of the self.”
This is Jesus’ 6th and final illustration regarding true righteousness where he compares the false, man-centered righteousness of the Pharisees with the true standard of God’s righteousness.
Here, Jesus contrasts the kind of love they had with the love of God.
God’s Standard Has Always Involved Loving Others
You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.
Rabbinic teaching was correctly based in part on the portion of this verse which simply says, “love your neighbor as yourself”. However, tradition and interpretation over the years had twisted that simple command and added, “and hate your enemies”.
The simple truth is that God’s standard for human relations has always been that we should love one another.
You shall not see your countryman’s ox or his sheep straying away, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly bring them back to your countryman. 2“If your countryman is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall remain with you until your countryman looks for it; then you shall restore it to him. 3“Thus you shall do with his donkey, and you shall do the same with his garment, and you shall do likewise with anything lost by your countryman, which he has lost and you have found. You are not allowed to neglect them. 4“You shall not see your countryman’s donkey or his ox fallen down on the way, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly help him to raise them up.
The principle of concern for each other was also extended to include those who were considered enemies. (Note: this refers to enemies on a personal level rather than enemies on the battle field for instance.)
If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey wandering away, you shall surely return it to him. 5“If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying helpless under its load, you shall refrain from leaving it to him, you shall surely release it with him.
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink
Throughout the Bible, God’s standard for His people is to treat even their enemies like their friends and families.
3He came to the sheepfolds on the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the inner recesses of the cave. 4The men of David said to him, “Behold, this is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold; I am about to give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.’” Then David arose and cut off the edge of Saul’s robe secretly. 5It came about afterward that David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul’s robe. 6So he said to his men, “Far be it from me because of the LORD that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’S anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the LORD’S anointed.” 7David persuaded his men with these words and did not allow them to rise up against Saul. And Saul arose, left the cave, and went on his way.