Our study this week takes us to Luke 6:27 where we read a passage from a collection of Jesus’ teachings. The material is similar to what we also find in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s gospel. Our text presents an exhortation to be kind to our enemies. Here is the first part of Jesus’ lesson: “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
The passage may be difficult for us for two reasons. First, we may think we have no enemies and thus run the risk of bypassing this exhortation altogether. Secondly, we may face such a word and realize it can be extremely hard to love those who wish to do us harm. Middle Eastern Palestinians and Jews, Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda, Sunnis and Shias in Iraq--here are places and peoples with long histories of bitter animosity. Can anyone break the cycle of hate and violence? How does one love one’s enemy?
Jesus gives us this command and roots it in our identity as the Father’s children. He concludes the passage (v 36) by telling us, “Be merciful, just as your father is merciful.” This Sunday we will explore what this text says to us about who we are as Christ followers and God’s children. I invite you to read and pray and attend to Jesus the Teacher.
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27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.