Jesus refined the target audience identified as …those who would hear… …be willing to listen. It wasn’t uncommon for Jesus to preface a truth or end a teaching with the statement …he who has ears to hear, let him hear….
The foundation that underlies this part of the sermon is LOVE… Agape Love:
· … it’s the love with which God loves us.
· … it’s a love based on choice, not emotion, feeling or merit.
· …it’s a supernatural love therefore, impossible for humanity to express except by the supernatural presence and power of the Spirit of God.
· … it’s a commanded love for those who Follow After Jesus.
It’s the kind of LOVE we receive from The Father and which in turn we are to pour out to those around us.
When it comes to enemies, those who hate, curse and hurt me, my natural inclination is to hate, curse and hurt them back.
TRUTH POINT #1: Hating those who hate me, cursing those who curse me, hurting those who hurt me is as instinctual to my fallen nature as taking the next breath is to my body. It’s our NATURAL default mode
Catch This: coming to faith in Jesus, being born-again, does NOT remove that instinct from me.
The call to Follow After Jesus is a call to daily surrender the old ways of the flesh to be crucified in Christ, so that I can walk in the life-giving ways of The Spirit.
When we Follow After Jesus in Agape Love, not only does it go against the natural inclinations of the flesh, it goes against the expected norms of humanity at large.
Which response to the points below most represents
the “group think” concerning those life situations?
Assaulted: retaliate / absorb the offense.
Demands made: minimum required / go the extra mile.
Help requested: ignore the need / freely give.
Property rights violated: fight what’s yours / release injustice to God.
The conventional approach is well known and practices. But Jesus turns convention on its head to show a better way to live, one that reflects the nature of The Father.
TRUTH POINT #2: Despite the incalculable injustices we have heaped upon The Father, we find His heart is bent NOT toward His personal rights, (conventional) but toward the redemption and exultation of fallen ones through His love (unconventional).
Ss Jesus lays out what it looks like to Follow After Him, we find a life rooted in LOVE which is unnatural and unconventional to the default state of humanity.
The concept of the “Golden Rule” existed before Jesus spoke it. However, it was in the negative, passive context.
Greek Philosopher Isocrates: “Do not do to others that which angers you when they do it to you.”
Confucius: “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.”
Apocryphal book Tobit: “Do that to no man which thou hatest.”
Rabbi Hillel: “What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbor.”
These statements offer good advice that we would do well to live by, but none of them are based on LOVE for anyone but self.
Jesus takes what is passive, negative and self-centered and makes it active, positive and others-centered. “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”
TRUTH POINT #3: Jesus’ “Golden Rule” has nothing to do with how others treat you, nor is it focused on their merit, but is solely focused on their wellbeing as defined by your highest ideals of your wellbeing.
We find that “Following After Jesus” is being defined by Jesus as a life rooted in a LOVE that is Divine in nature and not attainable by humanity in our own power.
In summary Jesus restates what’s already been established, but this time presents it from the perspective of what’s natural and conventional among men.
· Loving others who love you… (natural) …even sinners do that.
· Doing good to those who do good to you… (natural) …sinners do that.
· Lending to those who will repay or lend back to you… (natural) …sinners do that.
In conclusion Jesus tells us that when you love your enemies by doing good, lending expecting nothing in return, blessing them, praying for them… you can expect two things:
1. Your reward will be great. Not refering to a heavenly, eternal reward, but a “here & now” reward.
Jesus established that even sinners will love those who love them, bless those who bless them, do good to those who do good to them. So it’s no stretch to think that when we submit ourselves to Follow After Jesus, living as He lives, there will be times when we experience the following rewards:
· …enemy, becoming a friend.
· …one who cursed, turning to bless.
· …one who did harm, turning to do good.
· … perhaps an even greater reward of seeing one enslaved to sin set free to walk in the light of Christ.
2. Your testimony of the life transforming work of Jesus Christ will be evident and compelling to the world.
Pastor & Theologian, John MacArthur writes: “When Christians love with the unconditional, supernatural love God puts in their hearts, sinners will be astounded. This is a love that is foreign to their experience and shows that those who manifest it are sons of the Most High,”
The Mission Church is committed to serving God by making disciples in the Des Moines area.
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