A Call to Practise the Law of Love
Text: Matthew 5 : 21 - 48
How should one regard “enemies”? If the religious teachers were wrong in their attempt to conflate the laws of Moses, how should one treat “enemies”? To the amazement of all Jesus taught the transcending divine Law of Love.
“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…”
What was Jesus saying? Never had anyone heard such astounding teachings. Could one really practise such a teaching?
“LOVE YOUR ENEMIES”
This was the first step to take! A death blow to “hate” must be made. Hate would only beget hate. The only way to overcome hatred was love. Yes, love even enemies! This would be impossible under the old mindset. This law of transcending love would be possible only if one were to have regenerated hearts!
“BLESS THOSE WHO CURSE YOU”
Jesus had already taught this as He proclaimed the eighth Beatitude. Let us recall what Jesus said concerning those who promoted hatred.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for
righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom
of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile
and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil
against you falsely for my sake.”
How should one respond when persecuted? This new statement by Jesus complements what He had taught earlier. There should be no retaliation. There should be no thought of personal vengeance of any kind. True disciples are to learn how to love enemies. They are to practise blessing those who cursed them.
“DO GOOD TO THOSE WHO HATE YOU”
Not only did Jesus teach non-retaliation, He also taught that the disciples must go the extra mile. If there were opportunities, true disciples must make every effort to do good to those who hate them. That was an astonishingly tall order indeed! How does one even think good thoughts of enemies, let alone do good to them? Nevertheless Jesus’ words were unequivocal. There was no mistaking His emphasis!
“PRAY FOR THOSE WHO SPITEFULLY USE YOU AND PERSECUTE YOU”
Instead of crying out to God with imprecatory statements, Jesus taught His disciples that they must pray for their enemies instead! What a devastatingly different approach Jesus took!
THE RATIONALE BEHIND JESUS’ TEACHING
The rationale behind the teachings of the religious leaders was obvious. They applied the divine laws of God on a very secular and human level! If an enemy were to try to take advantage of you, everybody would understand if you were to retaliate. That was common practice.
Let us take time to fathom the rationale behind the teaching of Jesus. Let us prayerfully ponder this text.
“That you may be sons of your Father in heaven…”
The Jews took pride in being sons of Abraham. Jesus appealed to another even more important premise – “sons of God”. If one took seriously the concept of being sons of Abraham, then one must take even greater pride in being sons of God.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
Jesus was “The Only Begotten of the Father”. He took seriously His role as One who represented and reflected the glory of the Father. Now He emphasized this truth to His disciples as well.
“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.”
The rationale to practise all that Jesus taught was made very clear in this statement. True disciples must comprehend that they are called upon to do what God the Father has always been doing. Has He not shown great grace and mercy to those who are evil? He has not withheld sunshine and the rain from those who are evil, has He? The profound logic was that those who call themselves children of God must seek to be like their Father in heaven.
HARD BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE
Our first reaction might be to set aside this teaching as being too lofty and impractical. We might even be tempted to cast aside this saying of Jesus as an impossible teaching.
Yet, can we dismiss this profound teaching of Jesus so easily? Should we not instead cry out to God and confess that we have fallen short of the mark. Should we not cry out to God to revive our spirits and enable us to walk as true and good children of His? Yes, the teachings of Jesus are hard, but they are not impossible when we cultivate a close walk through discipleship.