Summary: EPHIPHANY 7, YEAR C - Is Jesus Crazy? How can we possibly love our enemies?
There once was a man who was self-centered, misery and cruel. Though he was wealthy he never gave to the poor nor did he care for his own children. He drank a lot and was abusive to his wife, his children, and to those who worked for him. Then one day the Lord changed this man’s heart from stone to that of melted butter. He began to show love to those around him. He was compassionate to his wife and family. He even gave away all his wealth to the poor. Seeing the great change that had taken place in this man’s spirit: Change his wife had prayed for. Change his children longed for. Change, however, that none believed was ever really possible. His family had the man committed to an asylum for the mentally ill. For clearly they thought, the man had lost his right mind.
“But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.
Ya...Right.....! What are you thinking Jesus? Do you think we all want to have a sign on our foreheads that reads, “sucker?” If we try to live like this, you know what will happen. Every Tom, Dick and Harry will show up at our church door looking for a hand out. And if we try saying “no” their response will be, “You’re not much of a Christian.” Is Jesus serious here? If any of us tried to live like this our families would probably commit us for be out of our right minds. How can Jesus possibly expect us to live like this. I mean this is serious stuff. Love my enemy? I can understand loving my neighbor, I need to get along with them. But loving my enemy. What good does that do me? Do good to those who hate me? Why can’t I just avoid them? I don’t like being hated. “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.” Now Jesus how am I suppose to give this advice to those caught-up in an abusive relationship? Isn’t that what the women’s shelter is for?
GOING TOO FAR?
B.D. Prewer 1989
"This time, Jesus, you’ve gone too far! Loving enemies is folly, blessing those who abuse us just rewards the bully!
It’s asking for double trouble to turn the other cheek! I’ll give the thug a bloody nose and give the meek a break!
As for the bloke who steals my coat, in jail I hope he rots. He’ll get no bonus shirt from me to show off to his mates.
Jesus, your idealistic words don’t work in this real world. Those who try to live that way will end up in the cold."
Do you ever feel like B.D. Prewer when hearing these words of Jesus? Do you feel like asking “Is Jesus Crazy?” How can he possibly expect us to live like this. All our attempts to live this way by our own abilities fall short of the mark. Even the apostle Paul declared, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We are caught between a rock and a hard place. We are beckoned by Christ to follow Him yet we find we just don’t have the capacity. We can’t simply ignore these words because it is Christ who spoke them. It is Jesus who bids us, “come and follow me.” So how are we as followers of Jesus Christ to hear and obey this sermon in the plain?
A young man told his father that he was going to open a department store. His father, experienced in this business gave him the following advise. “Remember my son, when you go looking for a place for your new business let this be your guiding principle, "Location, location, location.” As your pastor I have had many years of experience tackling difficult passages in God’s Word and so from that experience let me share with you this guiding principle, “Context, context, context.” To gain insight into any given passage you must first understand the context in which it was written. Jesus is explaining to those who have chosen to follow him the expectations for a Christ-like disciple. He is laying out the standards of conduct for any disciple who wishes to be a representative of the Son of God.