Sunday, November 29, 2009

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two"

“Jesus’ Followers Are Different: Part Two”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
November 29, 2009
Luke 6:27-36

Last week, we started to listen in on Jesus’ message to His disciples, often called the “The Sermon on the Plain.”

The Lord Jesus has hand picked 12 disciples to be His apostles, His authorized representatives, and has brought them down to a level place (6:17) and is preaching to them a message about what His disciples are to be and not to be.

We said last week that you could sum up the entire sermon in this phrase: “Jesus’ Followers Are Different.”

They act differently.
They believe differently.
They value things differently than others do.
They do different things.

Jesus’ followers belong to a different kingdom.  His kingdom.

And His kingdom is different from the kingdom of this world.

Jesus’ Followers Are Different.

They should be.
They must be.

Jesus demands that His followers be different.

We saw that last week in the 4 beatitudes and 4 woes that Jesus pronounced.

You are blessed if you suffer for Jesus.

But woe to you if you do not!

Now in verse 27, Jesus returns to describing what His followers are like.

And it’s very different from how the rest of the world operates.

Jesus’ Followers LOVE Differently.

At the top of my notes on this passage for preparing this sermon, I wrote this down, “More crazy teaching from Jesus!”

These are some of the strongest and hardest to apply words in the whole Bible.

Because Jesus demands that His followers LOVE differently than the rest of the world.

Now, remember who Jesus is talking to.  Who is Jesus talking to?

Verse 17 says that he is talking to His disciples and a great number of other listeners. But verse 20 says specifically that Jesus was looking at whom?  His disciples.

These are commands, demands, that Jesus puts on those who believe in Him and follow Him.

Jesus demands that His followers LOVE differently than the rest of the world.

Number one.  Jesus’ followers are different.


“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

Is that different from the rest of the world?
It sure is!

That doesn’t come naturally, I’ll tell you that!

Jesus’ Followers, by His own command, love their enemies.

Now, you might not think that you have many enemies.  I’m sure that most of us don’t like to think of ourselves as having enemies.

I don’t.  I don’t want to have any enemies!

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who are my enemies!

An enemy is an opponent.

It’s someone who is against me.

An enemy is someone that I’m in some kind of relationship with who is NOT choosing to show love to me.

Are there people in your life that are choosing to NOT show love to you?

Those are your enemies whether you like it or not.

They are those on the other side of your conflict.
They are those who are sinning against you.
They are those whom you are unreconciled with right now.

An enemy is someone that I’m in some kind of relationship with who is NOT choosing to show love to me.

Some people may not be our enemies in any legal sense but at the moment they are acting like our enemies.

When I was working on this sermon this week, I had a fight with my wife.

It was at the lunch table, and I was complaining about Jesus’ difficult words here.  And she very graciously tried to help me understand what Jesus was saying.

But would I listen?

No, sir.

I was hot to convince her that these words here were really hard to understand.

And I began to oppose her at the table.  Enough that I almost drove her to tears in front of our kids.

I have apologized to her. And she has forgiven me.

And I am not her enemy.  But I was sure acting like it at that moment.

What should Heather have done with me who was being brutal to her at that moment?

Jesus says that she should love her enemy. And she did.

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

Jesus gives some examples of what htat might look like in verses 29 and 30.

“If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.  Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.”

Now, these are very extreme examples of this kind of love for enemies.

If they insult you with a slap, don’t retaliate.  Be open to being hurt again.
If they steal from you?  Don’t seek revenge.  Be open to being hurt again.

Love your enemies.

A bunch of our adults have been studying forgiveness this Fall.  We just finished our class last week.

It’s been one of the best and the toughest adult classes we’ve had together in years.

We’ve learned that forgiveness, not being bitter, not seeking revenge, not getting ours back is one of the hardest kinds of love that there is.

Being generous is fairly easy unless it’s being generous our enemies.  That’s hard.

Because they don’t deserve it.  They don’t deserve it!

If someone steals from you or insults you or borrows and doesn’t repay, they don’t deserve more!  They don’t!

And Jesus doesn’t say that they deserve it.  He just says to give it.

Jesus’ followers love differently!

They love their enemies like they love their friends!

They are generous with them.

They love their enemies.

Now, if you are at all like me, you have a bunch of questions that all begin with, “But what about....”


What about self defense?
What about when someone is trying to take advantage of you?

What about when it wouldn’t be loving to let someone steal from you?
What about taking care of your family?

I have all of those questions for Jesus, too.

And here’s the answer.

Yes, there are lots of biblical qualifications that probably need to be brought in to balance these words out.

Biblical passage where cursing enemies is the right thing to do–like the impreccatory psalms of the Old Testament and the impreccatory prayers of Paul in the New.

Biblical passages that talk about wisdom with money and how to interact with foolish people especially the Proverbs.

A Biblical passages that would show that Jesus is not talking here about how a government should operate or even how parents to should treat their children.

There are a lot of passages in the Bible that rightly qualify Jesus’ statements here.

But the real question is whether these statements speak to our hearts...or not!

Why do we ask our “what about” questions?

Is it because we want wisdom and want to grow in love for our enemies?

Or is it, secretly, because we don’t really want to love our enemies at all?

And we only want to know what we have to do to get by Jesus?

That’s one of the key reasons why Jesus speaks so starkly here.

He wants us to expose us.  He wants us to wriggle under the spotlight of His gaze.

He wants us to see that we don’t naturally love our enemies and wants to expose the passive hate we have for those we’d rather disdain.

And He wants us to rise above that and begin to truly love those who are against us.

Do you love your enemies?

Remember what we learned about love last year?

“Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered...”

We memorized the whole thing, right?

Do you act that way towards your enemies?

Jesus’ Followers are Different.

Do you want to know if you are a follower of Christ?

Look no further than how you treat those who are against you.

Do you seek revenge?
Do you retaliate?
Do you grow bitter, hateful, spiteful?
Do you return evil for evil?

Or do you love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you?

Jesus’ Followers Love Like Their Enemies Are Their Friends.


“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

This is Jesus’ Golden Rule of Thumb.

Do you ever have trouble knowing how to love someone?

I often do.

I ask myself, “What does love do in this situation?”

Paul has a prayer for smart love in Philippians 1.  He says, “[I pray] that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best...”

Because it’s not always obvious.

But here is a very simple principle laid down by our Lord that gives us a rule of thumb to follow when we don’t know what to do.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Now, that sounds natural, but it isn’t.

We naturally love others like we feel like loving others.

This requires thought.
This requires thinking about what someone else would want.

It requires putting ourselves in their situation and feeling what we would feel if we were there.

And then it requires doing something unnatural–loving someone.

Very simple rule of thumb, golden!  But not necessarily easy to do.

Jesus’ Followers Love differently.

They even think about what their enemies would feel before they try to love them.

Do you see how different we are to be than the world?

Jesus presses that home in verses 31 through 34.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that.  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 [or perhaps ‘expecting to get a loan from them some day’].”

Christ followers are different from the world.

The world has a kind of love.
Families who love each other.
Friends who love each other.
People in the community who love those in the community who are helping them back.

But that’s not good enough for Jesus’ followers.

Jesus’s followers are different.

Are you different?

The rest of the world operates on a quid pro quo basis.

Quid pro quo is a Latin for: What for What. Or This for That.

It means “You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.”

That’s, by and large, how the world loves.

But Jesus’ followers, by His demand, love differently.

We are to love without expecting others to repay that love.

And that means that we can love, even our enemies.  V.35

“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.”


How can Jesus’ disciples do this?

How can I do this?

It’s one thing for Heather to do it for me or me to do it for Heather in the moment–because we know that we’re really, in the long run, for each other.

But how do I do it to someone who has perpetually been against me?
I have often counseled people through divorces.

And I remind them, “Jesus says that you should love your enemy.  And that man you married or that woman you married and has now left you is acting like your enemy.  But you can still love them.  In fact, you have to.”

How can they do that?

How do Christ followers love differently?


“Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Here is the gospel.

Jesus is not saying that if you love your enemies, you will become a son of the Most High.  He’s saying that you will show yourself to be a son of the Most Hight because you will be taking on the family resemblance!

This is how God treated you!

God is merciful.  God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

God sent His son, not to this friends but to His what?

His enemies!

He wasn’t even our Father!

He became our Father by showing us His mercy in Christ.

God is the perfect example of love.

And His love empowers our love.

John said it this way, “We love because He first loved us.”

The good news is that we were unlovable, but that didn’t stop God!

We were ungrateful and wicked. 
We were rebels.
We were sinners.

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

That’s the greatest news in the world, and if you believe it, if you put your faith in Christ’s sacrificial death, then you are beloved of God and He is your Father!

And if He has loved you and me like that?  Then we can love anybody.



Even our worst enemies.

And when we do, we can expect reward.  Did you see that in verse 35?  It reminds us  of what we learned last week about how everything is going to change and it will all be worth it.

Will it be worth it to be cheated out of something because we belong to Jesus?
Will it be worth it to give to someone who won’t appreciate the gift?
Will it be worth it to be insulted and not to have gotten back at them?
Will it be worth it to be generous and never be personally repayed?

We will be repayed.  Just not by them!

V.35, “Then your reward will be great[!] And you will be sons of the Most High.”

Jesus’ followers love like their Heavenly Father loved them.

Is your love different?