But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, (28) Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. (29) And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. (30) Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. (31) And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.Luke 6:27-28
It is helpful to understand these verses within the context of which Jesus spoke them and how Luke related them in the flow of thought of the chapter.
In Luke 6:1-5 we find that Jesus had disciples that were following him. Verses 1-5 describes a problem that the pharisees had with the way the disciples of Jesus were acting. The Pharisees were complaining that they were breaking the parts of the law that they had defined by plucking ears of corn. The truth is that the scripture literally says it is ok to do this in Deuteronomy.
When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbour’s standing corn.Deuteronomy 23:25
The disciples were not disobeying the scripture. They were disobeying the law of people that added to scripture.
In verses 6-11 you see the pharisees upset with Jesus for healing on the sabbath. Jesus rebukes them for their position. They were upset with him for healing someone on the sabbath! Of course, it is ok to do good on the sabbath.
So here you have two accounts of these religious leaders caring more about their religion than the scripture. These accounts set forth a contrast between Jesus’s disciples and the religious leaders.
In verses 12-16 we find Jesus spending all night praying, and after praying He comes down and picks specific disciples to be apostles. The 12 were not the only disciples, but they were a specific group out of all the disciples.
So, Jesus prays.
Then Jesus picks.
Then Jesus preaches.
The sermon here is like one recorded in Matthew commonly called the “sermon on the mount”. And in this sermon, we see another similar contrast to the hypocritical pharisees and the disciples. This contrast is between those who are blessed and those that are cursed. Those who are blessed are ones that are true disciples of Jesus. They are acting like those who truly follow Jesus. (v.20-23) Those who are cursed (and thus pronounced with woe) are acting the way these religious leaders were acting. They were harsh, condemning, judgmental, and holding people to rules that they themselves had made up. They were not loving or kind. They were imposing rules as a way of growing in authority, power, and riches. They are acting as those who are not following Jesus. (vs. 24-26)
Now Jesus made a statement in the Gospels that may shed light onto today’s text in verses 27-36 from a discipleship lens.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (35) By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.John 13:34-35
Jesus said that the defining mark of his disciples would be their love. He said that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord our God with all that we are, and the second is to love our neighbor as ourselves. So, when we get to verse 27, we see this same kind of command:
But I say unto you which hear, Love…Luke 6:27a
This first command to love is followed by several commands that are parallel to each other. There is an imperative (command) verb, and then there is the direct object. The command to “Love your enemies” is a good overall description of what the whole passage is about, because that pattern is repeated.
This week we are going to look at three important questions that Jesus answers that help us know what true love looks like.
1. How do we love?
Jesus commanded them act a certain way- a way called love. Look at what love is paralleled with in the rest of the commands:
How do you love?
- Do good
- Pray for
- Do not retaliate in kind
Biblical love is primarily not a feeling. Love is a verb. Love is an action. This is why the word “love” here is given as a command.
Think about it this way:
- Go love.
- Go bless.
- Go do good.
- Go pray.
- Go give.
- Do not retaliate.
This is what it means to love.
And if your confused about what to do in any situation, Jesus sums it up this way
And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.Luke 6:31
Do to others the way you want them to do to you.
It is not enough to feel love. Love is an action that must be expressed. We love by blessing, doing good, giving, praying for, and treating others the way we want to be treated. This is what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ.
Pick one of those other verbs as an expression of love and do that for someone around you today!