Summary: Supernatual love is a love that is extended even to our enemies.
A reporter was interviewing an old man on his 100th birthday. "What are you most proud of?" he asked. "Well," said the man, "I don’t have an enemy in the world." "What a beautiful thought! How inspirational!" said the reported. "Yep," added the old man, "I outlived every last one of them."
Sermon Text: Matthew 5:43-48
"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of you Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
What Jesus states in verse 43 is not Old Testament teaching but rather traditional rabbinic teaching.
Leviticus 19:18 says, "THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR AS THYSELF."
Rabbinic tradition had perverted that Old Testament command by omission and addition:
• The phrase "AS THYSELF" was omitted.
• The phrase "HATE THINE ENEMY" was added.
Nowhere does the Old Testament teach that God’s people are to hate their enemies.
"The stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt" (Leviticus 19:34).
"If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his [donkey] going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou see the [donkey] of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him" (Exodus 23:4-5).
"Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: lest the Lord see it, and it displease him. . . ." (Proverbs 24:17-18).
"If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink" (Proverbs 25:21).
There are some Old Testament passages that seem to say that hatred of one’s enemy is acceptable. "Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies" (Psalm 139:21-22).
I. LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR EVEN IF HE IS YOUR ENEMY (vv. 43-44).
A. The Objects of the Command (vv. 43-44a)
"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies. . . ."
Two questions that need to be answered are (1) Who is my neighbor? and (2) Who is my enemy?
1. Who is my neighbor?
Jesus was asked this same question: "Who is my neighbour?"
2. Who is your enemy?
In that parable the man who loved was a Samaritan and the man who was wounded was a Jew. The Jews and Samaritans were anything but friends.
a. Those who curse you.
b. Those who hate you.
c. Those who spitefully use you.
d. Those who persecute you.
So Jesus doesn’t just say, "I have two commands: one that you love your neighbor and one that you love your enemy." He says, "I have one command: love your neighbor even if he is an enemy."
B. The Obedience of the Command (v. 44b)
". . . bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."
1. Bless them.
2. Do good to them.
True love is need-oriented. The Good Samaritan demonstrated great love because he sacrificed his own convenience, safety, and resources to meet another’s desperate need.
3. Pray for them.
Prayer for your enemies is one of the deepest forms of love, because it means that you have to really want something good to happen to them.
We are to pray like the apostle Paul in Romans 10:1 for the Jewish people, many of whom made life very hard for him. "My heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the pastor who suffered and eventually was killed in Nazi Germany, wrote of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:44, "This is the supreme demand. Through the medium of prayer we go to our enemy, stand by his side, and plead for him to God."