I decided to follow Luke and he moves straight away to Jesus saying we should love our enemies. Matthew has a few extra bits in between but we'll look at them later... Do you have any enemies?
(19)Love Your Enemies?
Luke follows his list of the Beatitudes with an injunction to love our enemies. Read Luke 6:27-36.
1. How might loving our enemies relate (today and in Jesus’ day) to
a. Blessed are the poor/woe to the rich (Luke 6:20,24)
b. Blessed are the hungry/ woe to the full (Luke 6:21a,25a)
c. Blessed are the mourners/ woe to the laughing (Luke 6:21b,25b)
d. Blessed at the despised, excluded, reviled/woe to the admired? (Luke 6:22,26)
2. After listing the blessings and woes, Jesus says “But…” Does that help answer the first question? In spite of who we think or know are blessed and cursed, including ourselves,… Is being blessed active or passive? And what does God want of us?
3. Read Luke 6:27. Who do you think of as “hating” you, your church or your country? Do you love them?
4. Read Luke 6:28. Who do you think of as misusing you, the Bible, the constitution? Do you love them?
5. Read Luke 6:29, Matthew 5:38-41 Typically nobody takes your tunic today or strikes you on the cheek, or even demands an eye for an eye. But in Jesus’ day, Roman law demanded that conquered people render aid whenever a soldier asked; Jewish law demanded equal (not excessive) restitution.
a. What about modern law, local or international?
b. Modern law in places of war or peace?
c. In rich or poor communities…?
d. When are we tempted to hide behind laws and forget love?
6. Read Luke 6:30, Mathew 5:42 Wouldn’t we all end up with nothing? What’s your first thought when someone asks for something from you? What should our first thought be?
7. Read Luke 6:31 Is this “the golden rule”? Matthew places it after the “Ask and it will be given to you passage” (Read Matthew 7:7-12). Does the golden rule mean:
a. I should hug people who hate to be hugged, and keep talking to people who want peace and quiet?
b. I should leave myself open to being hurt by someone who has hurt me before?
c. I should teach kids to tolerate being bullied? (How does it apply to zero-tolerance?)
The passage that follows might make the golden rule clearer. Read Matthew 5:43-48, Luke 6:31-36, James 2:1-9
1. Who are your/our enemies? Who curse you/us? Who hate you/us?
2. Has anyone you know been prosecuted (justly or unjustly)? How do you feel about that prosecutor?
3. Do you write your name in books before you lend them out? Do you label items of crockery?
4. Matthew and Luke both speak of God being kind to wrongdoers, yet the Old Testament frequently speaks of God punishing evil nations. Read Matthew 5:45, Luke 6:35 What might this tell us about how people (in Jesus’ day) viewed the Old Testament stories – merciful God holding back evil, or vengeful God punishing?
5. Matthew and Luke both ask us to be like God. Read Luke 6:36, Matthew 5:48. So… merciful or perfect? Can we achieve either?