Luke 6:27-36 – Love Your Enemies

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Luke 6:27-28

  1. Whether you are a Christian or not, it is easy to miss the teachings of Jesus. It can be perceived as difficult, too radical, strange, etc. There is a risk that Jesus’ message will affect your life so much that it will become uncomfortable to follow Jesus because you are already doing so well in the world. But Jesus’ message of the Kingdom of God is radical and uncomfortable for anyone who still lives, in whole or in part, in the Kingdom of the World. But for those who are willing to listen, there is teaching here that is “sweeter than honey” (Ps 119:103).
  2. Much of Jesus’ plain preaching goes against our sinful human nature, such as doing good to someone who treats us badly. But that is exactly how Jesus calls us to live because we are no longer citizens of the Kingdom of the World but of the Kingdom of God. We are no longer to behave like the sinners we once were, but like the children of God we are now born to be.
    1. It is very easy to become a Christian, you just have to believe in Jesus, but it is very difficult to live as a Christian, and you will have to work all your life to try to learn from Jesus with the help of the Spirit so that we slowly but surely become what we were once created to be; namely the image of God.
  3. Jesus informs his disciples that they will have enemies in the world. Perhaps this was not as shocking as Jesus’ words about loving your enemies! This extremely simple command is as simple as it is difficult, and goes against all worldly thinking. But Jesus wants his disciples to treat all people well, even enemies, and instead to leave our cause to our just and merciful God. In this way, perhaps God will eventually turn these enemies into friends.
    1. The love Jesus wants us to have towards our enemies is not some kind of inner feeling, but rather three clear actions: do good, bless and pray.
      1. “Doing good” to your enemy means giving them what they need, as Paul writes in Romans: “if your enemy is hungry, give him something to eat; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. If he is thirsty, if he is hungry, if he is thirsty, if he is hungry, you gather coals of fire to his head.” (Romans 12:20).
      1. When God blesses us, it creates multiplication and diversity (Gen 1:22), rebuke (Psalm 1:1-3), blessedness, joy and forgiveness (Romans 4:6-8). Just as God wants to bless us with all of these things, we should try to do what we can to help people succeed in their lives.
      1. On the cross, Jesus gives the ultimate example of how to pray for one’s enemies: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. ” (Luke 23:34a)

Luke 6:29

  1. Jesus was a perfect example of turning the other cheek. When people slandered him, called him a glutton and a drunkard, a bastard, a blasphemer, etc., Jesus did not respond by speaking back, but by healing the sick, casting out demons and proclaiming the kingdom of God.
    1. A first interpretation of the principle of turning the other cheek is about breaking the cycle of violence. The slap on the cheek that Jesus is talking about here is not about Christians never defending themselves if someone wants to hit us, but about a more general principle of ending all violence that is everywhere. Violence begets violence and revenge begets revenge, but anyone who does not fight back but instead surrenders revenge to God will see an end to violence (Romans 12:17-21).
      1. Here again, Jesus is the best example of turning the other cheek, when he does not resist being nailed to the cross but instead forgives his perpetrators, thus bringing reconciliation and forgiveness to all.
    1. A second interpretation of the principle of turning the other cheek is about equality. Matthew writes in his Sermon on the Mount that: “if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also to him” (Matthew 5:38).
      1. When you hit someone on the jaw, you normally hit them on the left cheek, but since Jesus specifically mentions a blow on the right cheek, we understand that he probably means a blow with the back of the hand. Such a blow was used in Jesus’ time by people of higher rank when they hit what they considered to be people of lower rank, such as a slave. But if after such a blow a slave then turns up his left cheek, he is making it abundantly clear that he does not regard himself as a slave and wishes to be regarded on an equal footing with everyone else. The beater then has two options; either stop beating his slave or begin to regard him as a free man. Either option would be better than being beaten as a slave.
    1. A third interpretation of the principle of turning the other cheek concerns exclusion from the Jewish community. A similar kind may have been used to symbolically remove someone from the synagogue and the Jewish religious community (John 18:22, Acts 23:2, 1 Esdras 4:30). The disciples constantly encountered this but responded by spreading the gospel even more. They did not fight back but instead tried to “overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21).
  2. The “mantle” refers to the outer garment worn in Jesus’ time and the “habit” was the garment worn closest to the body.
    1. According to the Law of Moses, it was forbidden to take someone’s cloak (Deuteronomy 24:10-13), but if someone insisted on taking your cloak, you would also offer your bodily clothing because you would then become naked and thus bring shame even to the one who sees you (Genesis 9:20-23).

Luke 6:30

  1. You can only practice these Kingdom of God principles if you fully trust God to provide. For someone who trusts God to provide everything he needs, it is no big deal if someone takes his money or possessions.
  2. The only limitation to this principle is love. It is not love to give a child a chainsaw even if the child asks nicely. It is important to live by all the principles of the Sermon on the Plain in love.

Luke 6:31

  1. This statement of Jesus has gone down in history as the “golden rule”. Before Jesus, a similar principle was known; “don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you”, also known as the “silver rule”. Among others, the famous Rabbi Hillel the Elder expressed himself in this way (Talmud, Shabbat 31a).
    1. Some have wanted to diminish the significance of Jesus’ positive version of the already famous “silver rule”, but then it is easy to forget that the silver rule leads to no one doing anything good to anyone else, but only refraining from doing evil. Instead, Jesus’ golden rule creates a society where everyone tries to do what is good instead of just trying not to do what is evil.
    1. If you apply the silver rule and the golden rule to the story of the Good Samaritan and then compare, we see that those who walked past the abused man fulfilled the silver rule because they did not harm the man, they just walked by. But the Good Samaritan fulfilled the golden rule because he helped the battered man and did what is good. So the practical difference between the silver rule and the golden rule is enormous, even life-changing for some people.
  2. If all people followed the golden rule, we would never have any wars, burglaries, fights, etc.

Luke 6:32-34

  1. In this sermon on the plain, Jesus teaches how to live in the kingdom of God as opposed to the kingdom of the world. Loving only those who love back is not a principle of the Kingdom of God but a principle of the Kingdom of the World. Of course, it is not wrong to love those who love back, but a citizen of the Kingdom of God needs to go further and also love the one who hates you.
    1. Just because you have certain morals or follow certain rules doesn’t mean you are godly. Even criminals may have rules and a code of honour, but that does not mean they are righteous. A person who belongs to the kingdom of God needs to live differently than a person who belongs to the kingdom of the world because they belong to a different kingdom.

Luke 6:35-36

  1. A child often has a lot of similarities with its parents and a child of God should therefore be like his Father in heaven. Those who live according to the principles of the Kingdom of God show that they are trying to live like Jesus and thus show that they are born again as a child of God in the Kingdom of God.
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