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Luke 6:27-36
Series:  The Sermon on The Level - Part Two

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
January 12, 2020

Looking at the picture - we’re looking at the north shore of the Sea of Galilee and the level area that is probably where Jesus taught His Sermon on the Level - called that because it’s on the… level. The plain.  That we began studying together last Sunday.  Jesus leveling with His disciples about what it means to follow Him - to be His disciple.


Not just a part of a crowd that’s coming to hear Jesus teaching and to get healed - to get what they needed to keep going on with life.  Which isn’t a bad thing.  But it isn’t what it means to be a disciple. 


There are churches today that are filled with people who want to be taught and who have come with great needs.  And that’s a good thing.  But so often we want to be taught and have our needs met on our terms and not God’s.  We can put qualifiers on how far were willing to go. 


A disciple is someone who seeks to be mentored - to be instructed - to become like his or her instructor.  Total life transformation.  Someone who learns to so closely follow the teaching of the teacher that at the mind and heart level - in the manner of life - to see the student is to see the teacher.


God has more for us - for you - for me - than just physical healing and getting balanced psychologically and being able to manage what’s coming at us.


Jesus desires to redeem us and to heal us and to deal with the core and deepest issues of our lives.  To bring us to the wholeness of a person created in the image of God.  To give to us life - abundant - full - overflowing with joy - life with God now and forever.


And that’s where we want to go in our following Jesus.


The big picture of the Sermon on the Level - is Jesus leveling with His disciples about what it is at the heart level - the heart level attitude and actions of someone who’s really following Jesus.


If you are able - if you would stand with me - as we come together before God and His word - and let’s read together the next section of Jesus teaching - going on at Luke 6:27:


But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.  To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.  Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.  And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.


If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you?  For even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you?  For even sinners do the same.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.


But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.


Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.


Last Sunday we focused on Jesus opening up a very different perspective on what’s valuable in life.  What we need to be centered on.


The bottom line being, that being a disciple of Jesus means we stop coming to God with our expectations of God and our definition of what it means to be “all in” with God - and we simply come.  Agreeing with God that we’ve got nothing - nothing but our sin and our brokenness.  That we are spiritual impoverished.  That we come to God with mourning over our sin and in desperate need for what He offers to us in Christ Jesus.  Which is the beginning point of being a disciple as Jesus is calling on us to be His disciples.


Which - Jesus taught - is what God blesses. 


In the midst of what this world tries to abuse us with - conform us to - beat us down with - as we are in conflict with the hell bound world we live in - God offers to each of us something tremendously different.  His approval - His provision for our lives - His healing - His purpose for us - life in His kingdom - His very presence with us - knowing God and being known by God.  God’s blessing of our lives.


To be a disciple who is following after Jesus it is crucially valuable for us to be heart level - aware of our sin and need for Jesus - centered on what God blesses. 


Moving forward with Jesus’ teaching on what it is to be a disciple - big picture - the heart level attitudes and actions of a disciple - coming to verse 27 - Jesus goes on - laying out His foundational principle for this next section of teaching:  Love your enemies,  


Which is brutal.


Notice that Jesus doesn’t say, “Love some of your enemies.”  Or, “Just love a few of your enemies.”  “Pick and choose the one’s you want to love.”  But all of our enemies.  Which is not our natural response when people are coming after us.


And notice that Jesus is proactive.


Meaning Jesus isn’t teaching us to run and hide or to roll over and play dead.  What Jesus opens up here are spiritual principles and action steps to take as we step into that conflict in order to demonstrate love.


These days, who are our enemies?


The Greek word is “echthros” - which describes anyone that’s hostile towards us.  And there are degrees of what that hostility can be like.


The Jews were surrounded by enemies.  Not much changes.


The Greeks - the Romans - other nations around them - they made life miserable for the Jews.  The Romans treated the Jews with contempt - with cruelty.  They pilfered Israel.


From the religious leadership down to the average person on the street - they hated the Romans.  And they hated any Jew that compromised with the Romans.


Clearly the Romans and their sympathizers were the enemy.


To many in Israel, Jesus was the enemy.


Jesus in His person and teaching threatened and challenged the authority and teaching of the religious leadership.  He intentionally broke their version of the law.  He proclaimed Himself to be the Messiah - the very Son of God - God Himself - which the religious leaders took as blaspheme.  He even forgave people’s sins.


The hatred that people had for Jesus splattered on His disciples.  Still does.


Conflict with others is part of our lives.  And sometimes that conflict gets pretty intense.  The level of hostility.  And it goes on being hostile.  Sometimes people come after us and they just keep coming.  People who are against us and what we believe and where we stand.  Sometimes those people are as close as our own family.


Sometimes we get that hostility just because we’re the wrong political party or we say or post something others disagree with or whatever.  As tolerant as our culture is suppose to be there’s a lot of hostility out there.


What Jesus is teaching was just as attitude and action reorientating back then as it is today.  Let’s be clear on what Jesus is calling us to.


The religious leadership back then camped on Leviticus 19:18:  “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  We’re loving the people of Israel.  Our kind of people. 


And they camped on passages like Psalm 5:  “You [God] are not a God who is pleased with wrongdoing; You allow no evil in Your presence.  You cannot stand the sight of proud men; You hate all wicked people.  You destroy all liars and despise violent, deceitful men.”  (Psalm 5:4-6 GNT).


The religious elite put it together this way:  Love your own and join God in His hatred of sinners.  If they’re not with God like we say they should be with God - God’s enemies are our enemies.  So hate them.


The word for love is “agape.”  Which - of the different Greek words that describe love - “agape” is powerful - commitment for the long haul - self sacrificing - love.  “agape” describes God’s love towards us.


Love that is not about making people feel all wonderful and fuzzy inside and being PC and compromising truth in order to make nice and help people to balance out their lives.  But love that opens people up to God’s great purpose of bringing sinners to repentance and redemption and the life now and forever that’s found only in Jesus.


Which is where God is at in proactively loving us.


Jesus took on the problem of relating to an enemy - those who are hostile towards us - by teaching His disciples to respond with “agape” love - sacrificial commitment love in action.  Respond to your enemies with the kind of love that God demonstrates to us in Jesus - His work on the cross.


Paul - Romans 5:10:  “For while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.” 


That is brutally hard to think about doing let alone actually responding that way to someone - anyone and everyone - who has proven repeated that they are indeed our enemy - hostile towards us - on whatever level that might be.


Anyone with me on that?


Let’s be clear.  There is no humanly possible way for any of us to love our enemies in the way that Jesus loved us when we were His enemies - unless it is God’s love which flows through us.


And the only way that God’s love flows through us isn’t that somehow we suck it up - gritting it out - and somehow manufacturing that kind of love.


The only way that God’s love flows through us is by our surrendering to it.


The beginning point of being a disciple is coming clean with God in our spiritual poverty and desperation for God and the life that He has for us in Jesus.  The ability to love our enemies means total openness to whatever God wants to do in us and through us… period.


That’s how Jesus lived.  That’s the life He calls His disciples to follow.


“Love your enemies.”


Going on - Jesus moves to 8 proactive attitudes and actions that apply that foundational principle to the kinds of conflicts we go through in the drama of our day-to-day.


First:  Jesus teaches:  do good to those who hate you


On the night Jesus is betrayed - Judas leads this crowd with swords and clubs - with soldiers of the chief priests and scribes - to the garden to arrest Jesus.  They laid hands on Jesus and seized Him.  The hostility is pretty intense. 


In response Peter slices off the right ear of Malchus - the high priest’s servant.  Not a very loving response.  But understandable.  (Mark 14:43-50; John 18:1-11)


And Jesus heals the ear of His enemy.  That’s doing good to those who hate you.


Loving our enemies means doing what is good for them.


Second:  bless those who curse you,


Blessing is the opposite of cursing.  Which is not easy. 


How many of you have been on the receiving end of a tirade of four letter explicatives or someone calling your family line into question?  Or how many of you have been given direction signals by someone on the freeway?  Perhaps directing you to heaven.


Responding to someone questioning your lineage with words of blessing and grace.  Or responding to some driver with questionable driving skills by slowing up and allowing them to merge safely in front of you - that’s what Jesus is getting at.


And cursing in the Biblical sense is way more intense than verbiage and direction signals.  Blessing those who curse us is intentionally loving them so deeply that we care about their well being now and moving forward.


Third:  pray for those who abuse you. 

“to pray” is the Greek verb “proseuchomai.” 


Same word as in James 5.  “If you’re sick - call the elders of the church - let them pray - “proseuchomai” - over you and anoint you with oil in the name of the Lord.”  (James 5:14)


“Prosuechomai” is always used of prayer to God - petition for great need. 


When we pray for our enemies it’s not to call in a strategic lightening strike.  But to pray on their behalf.


“God bless them.  God help them.  God forgive them because they have no clue what they’re doing.”  Sound familiar?  Jesus on the cross.


Jesus was whipped and mocked and scourged and had a crown of thorns shoved down on His head.  He was brutalized and crucified.  Abused. 


Hanging on the cross Jesus prayed for His abusers.  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  (Luke 23:34)


The only innocent person in creation dying for His abusers.  Praying for their forgiveness - concerned for their relationship with God.  That’s proactive love.


Number Four:  To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also...


Many - many - years ago when I worked in a sporting goods and music store - which is a long story in itself - renting band instruments - selling team uniforms - pianos and canoes.  It was an interesting job.


There was this really obnoxious customer who used to come in and buy sports stuff from us.  This guy was a tad big - had issues - had attitude.  Acted like he owned the place and we all were there to grovel before his immensity.  Are we tracking together?  He was not a pleasant person to deal with.


One day when he was on his way out of the store - but apparently not out of ear shot - I made some unfortunate under the breath comment about his character.  This guy came back in and just reamed me across the face.


What hurt worse than the slap - which hurt - what hurt worse was the humiliation.  Standing in the store with everybody - co-workers - customers - just staring.


The kind of slapping Jesus is talking about is intended more to humiliate that to hurt.  A pure - in your face - shaming insult that would understandably create a feeling of wanting revenge.


Me talking under my breath about a customer - or anyone - was not right.  Which was about me, myself, and I.


But what if we are in the right - even before God - and we’re sincerely trying to do the right thing and people drag our name through crud - shaming us publicly - so that people - even family and friends - might even question our character and reputation.  Anyone else been there?

At His trial Jesus was slapped by one of the officers.  An act that was both illegal and shaming.  Jesus responds: 
“If I said something wrong, testify as to what is wrong.  But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” (John 18:23 NIV)


Jesus - Who was unquestionably in the right - Jesus’ response - His example of turning the cheek - is to help this officer - and those there - to refocus on the truth of Jesus’ ministry and message.


Meaning that what’s at stake is the eternal destiny of the ones striking us.  Offering our other check is about loving others towards God not trying to defend our wounded pride.


Fifth:  and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.    


Cloaks were outer clothing.  Think about a heavy coat - like a blanket - that we could wrap around ourselves to keep ourselves warm.  That’s a cloak.


Tunics were like clothing we wear next to our skin - like we’d wear pants and a shirt or blouse today.  


That people had at least a cloak was an act of compassion.  A cloak was an essential for life - like a portable tent - something to huddle under on a cold night.  According to Old Testament law the poorest Hebrew - even someone totally destitute - always had a right to a cloak.  (Exodus 22:26,27) 


Jesus says, if someone takes your cloak - this essential for life garment that you’re entitled to - give them the shirt off your back as well.


Point being:  Loving our enemies isn’t about hanging on to our property or demanding our rights but the bottom line is the salvation of others - the ministry and message of the gospel.


Jesus goes on with that idea - number six:  Give to everyone who begs from you…  Literally:  everyone who or asks or demands from you...

Let’s be careful.  “Everyone” doesn’t necessarily mean poor - or living on the outside - or whoever might ask us for change out in front of Save Mart.  It doesn’t say that here. 


It’s everyone.  Whether they need it or not.  That’s not our call.


Emphasis being showing love to our enemies by being generous to a fault with our stuff - cloak, tunic, whatever.


Anyone else here challenged by that?


Seventh - which is like numbers five and six because it also deals with our stuff that we trend towards hanging on to:  and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.   


Meaning if someone forcefully or by asking for it takes our stuff don’t demand it back.  Even if they said they were only borrowing it or it’s within our rights to get it back.


The point Jesus is making - with these examples - has to do with yielding our rights.  Our stuff being a pretty visible reality of what we feel entitled to as being ours.


Our normal tendency is to hang on to what is ours.  To question the motivation and character of the one asking.  To defend what is ours.  To get back what is ours.  To tilt our response in our favor.  To demand justice and maybe a little bit more.


Let’s be clear:  There are times when the most loving thing to do is to report a robbery or to file a lawsuit or to call the police.  The right and proper thing - most loving thing - to do is to go through the legal system.


But once again the bottom line here is not our property or our rights but the eternal destination of our enemy.  The one treating us with hostility and contempt.


Putting that into perspective.  Paul writes the Corinthians:  “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).


The only people who will inherit the kingdom of God are sinners like us. 


Sinners like us who by God’s grace have come to understand our spiritual depravity and desperation and only by God’s grace through Christ’s work on the cross have we been - by faith alone - been given the inheritance of God’s kingdom.


God alone knows - if we’re not demanding our rights - whatever we might think those might be - and our stuff - whatever we think we might be entitled to - God alone knows if just possibly if we respond in love we might have an opportunity to share the gospel - or demonstrate the gospel - and be used by God to lead someone else closer to God - if not into salvation because of God.


Which is the infinitely and eternally loving thing to do for those who treat us as enemies.


Bottom line - pulling all 8 together - number eight:  And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.


Treat others the way you want them to treat you.  The Golden Rule.


Have you ever noticed how the Golden Rule can be incredibly self-serving?


The things I want others to do for me I need to do for them.  I give so I get.  I love so I’ll be loved.  Or, I don’t do things to people that I don’t want them doing to me.


We know it doesn’t say that.  And none of us would ever think that.  And that can’t be Jesus’ point.

But isn’t it interesting that we sometimes make obeying God about us.  About what we get out of it.


Jesus goes on - verse 32 - to clarifying what He means.


If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you?  For even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you?  For even sinners do the same.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.   


The Golden Rule is not original to Jesus.  It’s out there in the world along with the mentality behind it.


Confucius said:  “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”


Aristotle:  “We should behave to our friends as we wish our friends to behave to us.”


Plato:  “May I behave to others as they should do to me.” (1)


Give to gain.  Loving others to be loved by others.  We get that.


Jesus warns us - ultimately there’s no benefit in that - no earning of credit.  “Benefit” and “credit” translate the same word in Greek:  “charis” - “grace.”


If we’re serving ourselves - no matter how loving we may come across - to ourselves or to others - bottom line, there’s no grace of God - no blessing of God - in any of that. 


Jesus - verse 35 - But [in contrast] love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.


Call it the Grace Rule.  God’s grace - His blessing us with what we do not deserve - loving us when we were His enemies - and giving to us life with Him - that should heart level motivate our actions towards others.  To give to them what they do not deserve.


Call it the Mercy Rule.  God’s mercy - His holding back on what we do deserve - His wrath.  God’s mercy should heart level motivate our actions towards others.  To withhold from them what they do deserve.


God doesn’t reward us - benefit us or credit us - based on what we do for ourselves.  The blessings of God comes to us - and His love flows through us - even to our enemies - as we yield to Him.


Let’s make sure we’re hearing Jesus.


Luke 17 records a parable that Jesus told about an unworthy servant.


Jesus said:  “When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, does his master say, ‘Come in and eat with me’?  No, he says, ‘Prepare my meal, put on your apron, and serve me while I eat.  Then you can eat later.’  And does the master thank the servant for doing what he was told to do?  Of course not.  In the same way, when you obey Me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.’” (Luke 17:7-10 TNLT)


When the servant comes in from the field the master doesn’t jump up and down with joy and throw a celebration - some huge banquet.  He politely thanks him and sends him on to the next task.


Why?  Because obedience is expected.  It’s the norm.


Jesus’ words:  In the same way, when you obey Me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.’” 


People today are way too hung up on rewards.  Our schools hand out awards for kids who just show up for class.  For studying.  For having a pencil.


Those actions should be assumed.  It’s the norm - or should be the normal expectation - of what students do.


Obeying God is the norm of what a Christian does.  Not a source of pride - like somehow we’ve done something amazingly spectacular.  Something that sets us above the herd.  There’s high fives in heaven because we obeyed God.


Loving our enemies - treating our enemies - those we’re in conflict with - treating them as we would like them to treat us - isn’t about us getting some kind of reward - a spiritual merit badge or something that benefits or credits us.  It’s what a disciple of Jesus does.


Processing all that.  How is that possible? 


Coming to God - agreeing with Him that we’ve got nothing to come to Him with but our own depravity and desperation - is to come to God by faith - confidence that the God of grace and mercy and love has supplied and will supply all that we need in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Including what we need to love our enemies.


Which means we don’t need to wallow in victimhood or demand our rights or level someone with a few choice words or ruminate on payback scenarios or live bitter and angry.


When we begin to yield our rights to God we begin to open up our hearts to God’s transforming work within us.  The reward - the benefit - is that God’s grace and mercy and love will flow through us to others.  Which is not about us.  But all to the glory of God.  Focusing even our enemies on God - who they also desperately need.





1. Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary, Volume 3:  Insights on Luke (Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan,  2012) pages158,159.


Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®  (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.