On Sundays 14th and 21st May, our sermons will deal with two of the major themes that run through Matthew 5:17-48. As we’re tackling this large section on just two sermons, we won’t deal in detail with every paragraph. Therefore, to attempt to cover at least some of the gaps, there are/will be give short blog posts that will make a few comments on each passage and provide some questions for application. This is the firth and final post.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matt. 5:43-48 NIV)
Most of what Jesus has said so far in this section deals with the relationships between Christians, Now, in the final verses, Jesus deals with those opposed to us.
Once again, the heart issue is what Jesus focuses on. Rather than naming and shaming our enemies, and loving only our friends; Jesus calls us to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” This can only be possible because this is what God has done for us.
We were God’s enemies and he loved us. Therefore, what excuse have we to show anything except love to our enemies?
- Who would you consider to be your “enemies?” Write a list if necessary. Don’t hold back. Write down the names of everyone who has hurt you.
- Now pray for them, one by one.
- How does following Jesus statement make for distinctive disciples? How are vv43-48 different from the world’s way of doing things?