Summary: This sermon shares with us how we are to love our enemies, A.K.A. "Mean People"
Do you remember that classmate in elementary school who pulled the chair from underneath you as you proceeded to sit down? How about the bully in junior high that took your change that your mother had scraped up for you to buy your favorite ice cream? Perhaps you hadn’t forgotten about your so-called best friend in high school who took your girlfriend or boyfriend from you right before prom. It seems like we’ve come across some mean people while growing up.
Some of us couldn’t afford to have apartments by ourselves, so we got a roommate to share in the rent only to discover that they thought paying rent was an option, leaving us with the balance and eviction notice. What about that co-worker on your job who took all of your wonderful ideas, and presented them to the boss as theirs, which got them that bigggg corner office? Once again, it seems like we’ve come across some mean people.
These mean people that we’ve described are usually considered to be our enemy, because they don’t like us, and we aren’t too fond of them either. But as Christians, we are to have a different attitude and response toward those who seem to be cruel toward us. Contrary to worldly belief, we are to love mean people. I know the world says since you stole my mate, wait until you see the bait I use to steal yours, but for the Christian we are to love those who hurt us. Of course it’s not easy to love mean people, but with Christ it’s not impossible, as matter of fact Jesus gives us ways to love our enemies. Who better to show us how to love than Jesus himself, who was sent into this world because of the love God has for us.
As we paint the picture for this text, we see that Jesus was in the beginning stages of his ministry. He had just left his home in Nazareth and came and dwelled in Capernaum. After calling some of his first disciples, Jesus began teaching and preaching the gospel of the kingdom. He also healed people who had all kinds of sickness and diseases. As one might imagine, Jesus began to catch the attention of many people. The bible says that great multitudes of people started to follow Jesus. People came from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judaea, and from beyond the Jordan. His fame even went throughout all Syria, which was a neighboring nation. What made this so amazing was that people came from every geographical area of the nation of Israel to follow Jesus. But when Jesus saw the multitudes that had followed him, he stepped up into the pulpit; the bible calls it a mountain and he began to teach.
This particular occasion is called the Sermon on the Mount. In this message, Jesus began with blessings, for he came into this world to bless us. He also taught about things such as murder, divorce, fasting, and how to pray. In our text Jesus teaches us how to love mean people, A.K.A. our enemies. Here we find three ways to love mean people, this doesn’t mean that there only exist three ways, because there are many ways we can show love towards others as well as our enemies. But Jesus in this text shares with us three ways.
In verse 43, Jesus says, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.” The Jews considered their neighbors to be those who were from their own country, nation, and of the same religion. Anybody outside of this, they look upon them as their enemies. Just like the Jews, we too have enemies, and not all of them are outside of the church. But where did they get this idea of hating their enemies, because it wasn’t biblical. As a matter of fact one of the Jewish laws found in Exodus says that if you see your enemy’s oxen or donkey that has gone astray, be sure to bring it back to them.
Maybe when God brought the children of Israel into the promise land, and told them to destroy the people that were there. Instead of the Jews seeing this as God’s judgment upon sinful people, some may have developed hatred toward other nations that passed from generation to generation. The Jews probably also got this idea of hating their enemies from worldly philosophy which says, “If you don’t love me, then I don’t love you. If you hate me, then I definitely hate you.” But Jesus sets the record straight, he said, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies.” Speaking with authority, Jesus doesn’t give us an option whether or not we want to love our enemies, but he commands us to love our enemies. As Christians, since we are to love our enemies, then let’s look at some ways we can love these mean people.