The Sermon On the Mount
Matthew, Chapter 5
Matthew 5:43-48) Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
Six “You Have Heards”
21) Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill;
27) Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
31) It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife,
33) Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself,
38) Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye,
43) Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
NOTE: Jesus followed each of these 6 statements with “But I say unto you.”
In regards to this verse,
“The command to love our neighbor was a law of God, Lev_19:18. That we must therefore hate our enemy was an inference drawn from it by the Jews. They supposed that if we loved the one, we must of course hate the other” [Barnes].
“This was certainly the meaning which the Jews put on it: for neighbor, with them, implied those of the Jewish race, and all others were, considered by them as natural enemies” [Clarke].
44) But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Concerning “love your enemies,”
“There are two kinds of love, involving the same general feeling, or springing from the same fountain of good-will to all mankind, but differing so far as to admit of separation in idea. The one is that feeling by which we approve of the conduct of another, commonly called the love of complacency; the other, that by which we wish well to the person of another, though we cannot approve his conduct. This is the love of benevolence, and this love we are to bear toward our enemies” [Barnes].
Love Your Enemies:
Luke 10:25-37) [Phillips] Then one of the experts in the Law stood up to test him and said, “Master, what must I do to be sure of eternal life?”
26) “What does the Law say and what has your reading taught you?” said Jesus.
27) “The Law says, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind’, and ‘your neighbour as yourself’,” he replied.
28) “Quite right,” said Jesus. “Do that and you will live.”
29) But the man, wanting to justify himself, continued, “But who is my ‘neighbour’?”
30) And Jesus gave him the following reply: “A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho. He fell into the hands of bandits who stripped off his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead.
31) It so happened that a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32) A Levite also came on the scene and when he saw him, he too passed by on the other side.
33) But then a Samaritan traveller came along to the place where the man was lying, and at the sight of him he was touched with pity.
34) He went across to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put him on his own mule, brought him to an inn and did what he could for him.
35) Next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the inn-keeper with the words, ‘Look after him, will you? I will pay you back whatever more you spend, when I come through here on my return.’
36) Which of these three seems to you to have been a neighbour to the bandits’ victim?”
37) “The man who gave him practical sympathy,” he replied. “Then you go and give the same,” returned Jesus.
QUESTIONS: Exactly what is Jesus teaching us with this story? Paul tells us “you do not live under law but under God’s grace.” With this fantastic, liberating truth that Paul shares with us, why do we still gravitate to Law?
ANSWER: The appeal of the Law is that it tells us what we can get away with. The speed limit is 65 mph; so we feel we can get away with 70, or 75mph. The Law tells us that we must love our neighbor. Now I want to know who my neighbor is. God forbid that I love someone that I don’t have to. If Jesus defines who my neighbor is then I can figure out what I can get away with. INSTEAD, Jesus, in essence, is telling us not to worry about who our neighbor is, but to go out and be a neighbor to somebody.
NOTE: You cant “love your neighbor and hate your enemy” unless you know who is who. The Jews wanted to believe that their neighbors were their fellow Jews, and that everyone else was their enemy. Then they would know what they could get away with. Jesus said to go out and be neighborly to whoever needs someone to be neighborly to them.
Regarding “curse you,”
“to curse, doom, imprecate evil upon” [Thayer].
Concerning “despitefully use you,”
“To misuse, treat despitefully, insult” [Word Study].
Here’s what Jesus wants from us:
1. Is someone speaking evil upon us [like “go to —.]? Then we are to speak blessing upon them.
2. Does someone hate us? Then we are to do something good for that person.
3. Does someone treat us badly, slander us, and literally persecute us? Then we are to pray for them.
Here’s How Paul Explains It:
Romans 12:18-21) [MSG] If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody.
19) Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
20) Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness.
21) Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.
45) That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
In regards to “that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven,”
“He was not saying that this was the way to become sons of God; rather, it is how we show that we are God’s children” [BBC].
“That is, that ye may continue and appear such before men and angels” [Wesley].
Ephesians 2:8-10) [GW] God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God.
9) It’s not the result of anything you’ve done, so no one can brag about it.
10) God has made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do.
8) [MSG] Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish!
9) We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing!
10) No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.
NOTE: Blessing them who curse us, doing good to the ones who hate us, and praying for those who misuse us and slander us are good things to do; but doing those things will not, nor could not, save us. However, those things are some of the “good works” that He has created us to do in the new birth. When we do them we demonstrate that we are His children, and that we want to live like He lived.
46) For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47) And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others]? do not even the publicans so?
(CEV) 46) If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectors love their friends.
47) If you greet only your friends, what’s so great about that? Don’t even unbelievers do that?
NOTE: We sometimes think that if we love our family and friends well that God must be especially proud of us. Jesus is reminding us that those who we count as scum [the tax collectors] do that. The challenge is to love the unlovely, those who would take advantage of us given the chance, those who hate us.
48) Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
(GNB) You must be perfect—just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
(MSG) “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.
(CEV) But you must always act like your Father in heaven.
In regards to “perfect,”
“goal, purpose. Finished, that which has reached its end, term, limit; hence, complete, full, wanting in nothing” [Word Study].
“We see that in this section Jesus was not primarily seeking to show what God requires of the Christian in his daily life. True, Jesus has revealed God’s ultimate standard, and we must take it to heart. But His primary intent was to say, “If you want to be righteous by the law, you must keep the whole law, internal and external – that is, you must be perfect!” [Guzik].
NOTE: Jesus is raising the bar concerning what righteousness by the Law would require. We want Law so we can figure out what we can get away with. Jesus is telling us that the Law doesn’t let you get away with anything.
These added requirements of the Law, that are added because Jesus doesn’t just look at what’s written, but what’s intended as well, are pointed out to us for two reasons:
1. So we will realize the absolute futility of trying to please God by keeping the Law;
2. And, so we will realize how we should live, and then attempt, through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives, to live that way.
Walk of Grace Chapel, Council Bluffs Church