What is your response to the Lord’s warnings? We feel convicted by our tendency to seek comfort in this life rather than God’s promises. We may even question our salvation. Is the Lord’s goal to fill you with fear and doubt? No.
Warnings of judgment should drive us to repentance. When Jesus declares “woe is you” we ought to respond like Jeremiah (Isa. 6:5). That is the response of someone who has been called by a Holy God. The recognition of what we deserve is, in part, how God preserves our faith.
Jesus elaborates the final blessing/woe (22, 26). The Golden Rule is placed within a particularly difficult context.
Do to your enemies as you would have them do to you.
Read Luke 6:27-31
The Golden Commandments (27-28)
Jesus clarifies his audience (20, 27). “But” regards subject, not hearers.
- Love (agapé) your enemies.
- Do good to your haters.
- Bless your cursers.
- Pray for your abusers.
Love is not merely something we feel, but something we do while trusting God. Personal retaliation is unchristian.
Before softening the blow, consider how Jesus modeled these commands:
- Jesus showed love to Judas.
- Jesus called Saul to himself.
- Jesus blessed those who crucified him…
- and prayed for their forgiveness (Luke 23:34).
His parable of The Good Samaritan reveals this kind of radical, sacrificial love for our neighbor.
That is how Jesus treated us. Our call is to imitate God’s extravagant love (36). We remain in this world, in order to relate God’s love to the world.
Wright Think of the best thing you can do for the worst person, and go ahead and do it.
From commandments to…
The Golden Examples (29-30)
The disciples’ behavior was to radically depart from the self-centered, hedonistic world. These absolute examples are startling, but not exclusive. We must consider the whole counsel of God’s word.
- Don’t retaliate against insulting abuse: Matt. 5:39; John 18:22-23; Rom. 12:19-21.
- Don’t prevent a thief: Trust God for delayed justice. Vengeance is His.
- Give to every beggar: Did Peter and John fail (Acts 3:3-6)? Related to lending without interest (35; Matt. 5:42). Disciples are called to be generous and compassionate.
- Don’t demand the return of stolen goods: Bishop Myriel in Les Miserables. Be willing to suffer wrong for the sake of the gospel.
None of this is meant to eliminate accountability (41-42). Nor does it restrict self-preservation and protection of property. However, the idea is that we would love people more than our stuff.
Jesus finally states the principle…
The Golden Rule (31)
The parallel passage in Matt. 7:12 follows Jesus’ teaching of God’s generous response to our asking.
Although, this rule existed in the ancient world (cf. Lev. 19:18), Jesus knows it can only be obeyed through the help of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 7:18).
How is this ethic consistent with the imprecatory psalms? The imprecatory Psalms are judicial rather than personal rules. They represent the actions of a theocracy calling upon the God of justice to mete out his punishment upon those who seek to diminish his glory. The Golden Rule doesn’t eliminate punishment.
Many of us spend most of our thought attempting to shave off the sharp edges of this passage. But, stop and consider the simplicity of Jesus’ words. Could you imagine a world where our common ethic was, Do to your enemies as you would have them do to you.
- The Golden Commandments
- The Golden Examples
- The Golden Rule
Regardless of the exceptions to the rule, we miss Christ’s point if it’s anything other than a strong exhortation to show God’s love to everyone, including our enemies (contrary to what the Pharisees taught).
Who among us can say that we live like this? Praise God we have a Savior who forgives us when we fail.
This passage reveals the generous character of God, which was on full display in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He satisfied the Golden Rule perfectly when we died upon the cross while we were enemies.