For August 17, 2021 Live@5
Matthew 5:38–48 (NKJV, also appearing in Luke 6:27-36)
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
This passage completes the list of six antitheses with numbers five and six. The passive responses Jesus suggests in this passage run counter to the natural response many Jews would have expressed in Jesus’ day. Their pride and their law would have insisted on a one-for-one response. Jesus, however, eliminated the tit-for-tat norm and advocated for–even commanded–a more measured response that said to offer more than was asked rather than insisting on commensurate retribution. This demonstrates unselfish love for others in a very physical way. Take their violent acts and return love and humility. Take their greed and return generosity. Take their oppressive acts and offer to do even more. These teachings fly in the face of today’s culture as well, where the philosophy of “me first” seems to rule the day.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Jesus then takes the discussion a step further by suggesting that one not only exhibit the characteristics of a Christian, but actually develop the emotional depth to mean them. Instead of loving your friends and hating your enemies, love everyone, including your enemies. Bless the Curser, do good to the Hater, Pray for the User and Persecuter. Be like God! What a novel idea…. Loving the Loving is no stretch, but loving your enemies, well, that requires the love of God, and in so doing you will be like Him. If God give rain and sun to them, why can’t we love them? Love One Another.