- Sermon Notes
Intro: This is new.
This week, we will study the sixth and final example Jesus gives in Matthew 5, displaying a deeper level of righteousness. There were cultural and religious norms surrounding many areas of the law and life that were falling short of the purposes and intent of God. We have looked in recent weeks at the statement Jesus made in Matthew 5:20, a statement that points all toward a righteousness that cannot be accomplished through outward rule keeping.
Jesus began by addressing murder and the heart posture associated with it, then adultery, divorce, false vows, revenge, and a final radical idea: love without a limit, for your enemy.
Read: Matthew 5:43-48
- After telling His followers to turn the other cheek, give what can’t be taken, go the extra mile, and giving to those in need; Jesus simply tells us, what is not so simple: Love your enemies.
- There is a way in which Jesus wants His followers to live. A love that He wants them to show and display to both neighbors and those who one might be labeled “enemy.” Like His previous examples of heart posture, word, deed, and non-revenge; this love He is referring to cannot be given in the natural, rather, it is supernatural.
I. Begin to Ask How, Not Who
Matthew 5:43-44, You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…
- The teachers of the day taught that one should love their neighbor and hate their enemy.
- Half of that statement was correct and true to the Old Testament scriptures.
Leviticus 19:18, You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.
- Additionally, the phrase “love your neighbor as yourself,” is found throughout the New Testament. (Matthew 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8.)
- What you won’t find in scripture is what was being added by the teacher of His day – which was an opposite misapplication: an equal obligation to “hate your enemy.”
- The religious teachers of the day limited the scope of the term “neighbor” and added the phrase “hate your enemy.”
- A “neighbor” then was limited to only the people they preferred and approved of.
- This was taught, practiced and passed down.
Luke 10:25-29, On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the law?” Jesus replied. “How do you read it?” The man answered, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But the man wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”Illus. You can’t choose your neighbors.
- Jesus is saying I know what you have heard, but you need to start asking how to love, not who to love.
- We can often narrow that scope as well, but Jesus broadens the scope of love, not just to those who are easy to love. Not just to those who are lovable, or those that we like, but being one who chooses to love.
- One who asks how to love that person, rather than if I should love that person.
A.Make love your only choice
- Certainly, there are many ways in which we express love, many things we say we “love,” but one word.
- In Greek this is not the case. The Greek language has four words for love: Phileo: brotherly love or love of friendship. Storge: The love of family. Eros: romantic love. Agape: The love that involves the total commitment of self, to love supremely.
- Agape: May involve emotion but must involve action. This is the term Jesus uses when he says “But I say to you, love (agape) your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Vs. 44)
- We are called to love this way through Christ’s example.
Ephesians 5:1-2, Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
- We are called to be imitators of God, to walk in love, just as Christ also loved you. His choice to love does not depend on what things you like, or your opinion on something.
- Rather, He gave Himself up, dying in your place, so that a way could be made for you and I to the Father.
Illus. Paul calls Jesus’ sacrifice of love a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God. This refers to Leviticus 1-5 which illustrates the sweet-smelling aroma of different offerings. Certain offerings were sweet smelling to God because they represented devotion, reliance, and fellowship with God.
- When you choose to follow Christ’s example, walking in love, it is a sweet-smelling sacrifice to the Father.
- Make love your only choice, knowing that both those you prefer and those you do not prefer, smell an aroma.
Illus. Late to a prayer meeting.
- Jesus continues in verse 45 by making it clear that when you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, you are showing yourselves to be children of God.
Illus. A “loving” prayer.
Matthew 5:45-46, For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
- This is an interesting thought, how does God determine who gets to enjoy this heat wave we are having? How does He determine who gets rain on their lawn? Answer: love.
- It is the same with us, the Lord does not want our love to be limited, but common.
- The sun and rain are given to all, which is a part of common grace extended to all.
- This is how the world knows we are sons of the Father, this is how we remain essential yet distinct, as the light of the world…By our love to all.
John 13:35, By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
1 John 4:16, God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
- Why is it so important we love? Because God is love and we are His disciples. His representatives to our friends and foes.
Illus. He’s on your team?
- We are on His team, and He is our captain. The way He made for you and me was because of His great love.
Ephesians 2:4-5, But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.
- Since what we received, we received when we didn’t deserve it, we too give to those who “don’t deserve it.”
- God shows kindness to all, even though we don’t deserve it. Why?
Romans 2:4, Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that it is the kindness of God that leads you to repentance.
- Jesus understood that we will have difficulties, there will be those we struggle with identifying as enemies, or those who call us theirs.
- Make love your only choice, even toward those who don’t deserve it, why? They might be transformed into a friend.
J. Oswald Sanders: The Master expects from His disciples such conduct as can only be explained in terms of the supernatural.
A.He’s calling you closer
Matthew 5:46-48, For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? Do not even the gentiles do the same? Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly father is perfect.
- The love of the Scribes and Pharisees, is no better than the love of those who they hated.
- He is essentially saying, “your righteousness is no better than theirs.”
- God’s people are called to love. It is not about disagreement, opinions, who your “favorite team” is…It is about who your Lord is.
2 Corinthians 5:21, He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
- By calling you to love He is calling you closer, to Him and to others.
Illus. The deepest love.
- Be perfect? You mean don’t hold anger in my heart? Never say something I don’t mean? Turn the other cheek? Go extra mile with someone I can’t stand? Love them?Be perfect??That’s impossible!
Matthew 19:26, With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
- Through it all, He is calling you closer to becoming more like Jesus, in your life and in this world. Encouraging you to find way of figuring out how to love, not who to love.
- What the world needs now is not the love of man, but the love of Christ.
- To love that way seems impossible, but the impossible becomes possible for those who trust in Jesus. He is the way, the truth, and the life…No one comes to the Father but through Him (John 14:6).