Sermon on the Mount Notes
What character quality more than any other says to the world, "This person is a Christian"?
What is so appealing about revenge?
- What was Jesus’ original meaning when He taught about not retaliating and loving the unlovable?
- A. These laws (Exodus 21:23-25; Leviticus 24:19,20; Deuteronomy 19:21) were given to limit vengeance and help the court administer punishment that was neither too strict nor too lenient.
- These were judicial rulings. But instead of confining these laws / rules to the courts to apply the Jews had extended it to private conduct. The Jew had made into rule by which they could take revenge. It was not a guide for personal vengeance.
- They considered themselves justified, by this rule, to inflict the same injury on others that they had received.
- Turning the other cheek is a hard saying in the sense that it prescribes a course of action which does not come naturally to us. Jesus takes a further step. "Don't retaliate at all," he says to his disciples. "Don't harbor a spirit of resentment; if someone does you an injury or puts you to inconvenience, show yourself master of the situation by doing something to his advantage.
- Our desire should not be to keep score, but to love and forgive. This is not natural — it is supernatural. Only God can give us the strength to love as He does. Instead of planning vengeance, pray for those who hurt you.
- Is this a literal teaching? Do we actually turn our other cheek? I believe that Jesus is figuratively giving us a principle.
- It is like we really shouldn’t be plucking out one's right eye and throwing it away. What Jesus is saying is that we are to go beyond what is expected of us.
- Then Jesus teaches about loving our enemies. For Jews of Jesus' day, these statements were offensive. Any Messiah who would turn the other cheek was not the military leader they were not looking for a lover but they were looking for a fighter. They wanted a Messiah who would lead a revolt against Rome. Since they were under Roman oppression, they wanted retaliation against their enemies, whom they hated.
- But Jesus suggested a new, radical response to injustice: instead of demanding rights, give them up freely! According to Jesus, it is more important to give justice and mercy than to receive it.
- The Jews interpreted Old Testament Scriptures in a different light. They saw some of the Scriptures as pointing to them loving their own. Here are a few examples:
- Leviticus 19:18 for example - Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. They saw this as a suggestion to love only their own.
- Psalm 139:19-22 (NIV) 19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! 20 They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. 21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord, and abhor those who rise up against you? 22 I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.
- Psalm 140:9-11 (NIV) 9 Let the heads of those who surround me be covered with the trouble their lips have caused. 10 Let burning coals fall upon them; may they be thrown into the fire, into miry pits, never to rise. 11 Let slanderers not be established in the land; may disaster hunt down men of violence.
- They saw these passages as fighting passage – let’s get the Romans.
- By telling us not to retaliate, Jesus keeps us from taking the law into our own hands. By loving and praying for our enemies, we can overcome evil with good.
- Jesus never said that the Law wasn’t important. He just expanded on it from a personal side.
How do we do this in a practical way? Here is an idea.
Jackson Brown, Jr. has had a great deal of success selling a book called Life’s Little Instruction Book. In his book he lists hundreds of bits of wisdom and advice for living. Let’s create as a congregation our own little book called Loving Your Enemies Little Instruction Book.
- So often things on face-book are negative put a positive comment on the face- book page.
- Put your neighbors garbage can back where it belongs after trash pick-up – even though he’s been a jerk
- Leave a candy bar on the desk of an associate that you are having trouble with
Take blank piece of paper and that has been provided and write down how we can show our love to an enemy.
Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.