Judges 13-15 Luke 6:27-49
“But I say to you who are listening, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who are cruel to you.” (Luke 6:27-28 NCV)
The message of Jesus shook traditional beliefs to the core. As He taught the people on the Plain, He told His followers to love their enemies, do good to their haters, bless those who would curse them, and pray for those who were cruel to them. This flies in the face of every societal norm and every religious obligation of the time. When Jesus told his followers to love their enemies, every one of His followers could have told a tale of wrongs done to them, or someone they knew, by the Romans. When Jesus told them to love their enemies I have no doubt the face of some Roman soldier rose in their minds. The Romans hated the Jews, and the Jews returned the hatred. The Romans cursed and abused the Jews who couldn’t fight back for fear of death. I wonder how many of the Jews remembered this teaching when Jesus hung on the cross and prayed that the Father would forgive those who crucified Him.
Perhaps it would be asking too much to have expected the Jews who followed Jesus to remember this teaching when Jesus lived it from the cross. We’ve had this teaching available for almost 2000 years. It’s a message that most Christians hear at least yearly. In spite of that, we not only don’t love our enemies, we seek to destroy them. We don’t do good to those who hate us, we plot evil against them. When cursed, we curse back. When others are cruel to us, we plan revenge. We justify that by noting that Jesus was teaching the ideal reaction and sometimes life doesn’t work that way. Maybe life doesn’t work that way because we aren’t willing to trust God to protect us if we don’t protect ourselves. Today we celebrate Resurrection Sunday. It’s a celebration of Jesus’s victory over that last enemy – death. If Jesus can conquer death, we need to remember that He can deal with any enemy we may have. He doesn’t need me to attack my enemies; I need to show faith by loving and doing good to my enemies. This is one of those times when I wish God would have made living by faith easier. Why couldn’t Jesus have taught us a great imprecatory prayer that would cause Him to destroy our enemies – like we do naturally. Following Jesus causes us to make tough decisions. Deciding to love our enemies and do good to those who are cruel to us may be one of the toughest, but also one of the most needed.
I’ve gotta admit Lord, that I would prefer not to love my enemies. I’d rather avoid them. Yet Your command is to confront my adversaries with Your love and grace. Since I can’t do that on my own, please give me the strength to follow You in loving my enemies.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.