"THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT"
Treatment Of Enemies (Mt 5:43-48)INTRODUCTION
1. The last section on the subject of "vengeance" (38-42) contained
teachings of Jesus that are certainly challenging
2. Taken literally, it would require radical conduct on the part of
those who are Christians
3. Perhaps we can glean some insight into why we should act in such a
manner, when we consider what Jesus says in this section concerning
the "treatment of enemies" (43-48)
[First, let's examine...]
I. THE LAW OF MOSES AND THE "TRADITIONAL INTERPRETATION AND APPLICATION"A. NOTICE THAT THE O.T. DID NOT REALLY SAY "HATE YOUR ENEMY" (43)
1. It did teach to "love your neighbor as yourself" - Lev 19:18
2. But, it also taught that kindness was to be shown to your
enemy - Exo 23:4-5; Pro 25:21-22B. AGAIN, THE TRADITIONAL INTERPRETATION HAD MISAPPLIED THE LAW!
1. Though it did enjoin the command to "love your neighbor"...
2. It inferred from this command that one had the right to "hate
[In contrast, consider...]
II. THE "RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE KINGDOM" AS TAUGHT BY JESUSA. IT DEMANDS THAT CONCERNING OUR "ENEMIES"... (44)
1. We "love" our enemies (i.e., show "active good will" towards
2. We "bless" those who curse us (i.e., speak well of them)
3. We "do good" to those who hate us (i.e., treat them kindly)
4. We "pray" for those who spitefully use us and persecute us
a. Notice, we are to pray FOR them, not just about them
b. I.e., pray for their well-being, salvation, etc.
B. THIS IS AN EXPANSION OF THE PRINCIPLE ILLUSTRATED IN VERSES 39-42
1. Don't seek vengeance!
2. Instead, react by manifesting aggressive love!
[Why respond to our enemies in this way? Jesus explains...]
III. THE UNDERLYING REASON TO REACT IN THIS WAYA. "THAT YOU MAY BE SONS OF YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN" (45)
1. That is, to demonstrate ourselves to be truly His children!
2. What is our Father like?
a. He gives material blessings to both the evil and the good,
both the righteous and the unrighteous - Mt 5:45b
b. He is kind to the unthankful and evil - Lk 6:35-36
c. He offered His Son while we were yet sinners and enemies!
- Ro 5:8,10
d. He loved us before we loved Him - 1 Jn 4:10
3. As taught elsewhere, we are to imitate our Heavenly Father
- 1 Jn 4:11; Ep 4:31-5:2B. OTHERWISE, WE ARE NO DIFFERENT THAN THE "TAX-COLLECTORS" (46-47)
1. In Jesus' day, they were despised by the Jews, because they
made themselves rich by collecting taxes from their fellow-
men for the Roman government
2. And yet, they would...
a. Love those who loved them
b. Greet cordially those who greeted them
3. We are no different if our love is limited to our "brethren" or
C. ONLY THEN WILL WE BE "PERFECT, JUST AS YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN IS
1. The word "perfect" means "brought to completion, full-grown,
2. In this context, it has reference to the matter of showing love
and mercy (cf. the parallel passage in Lk 6:36)
3. When we display love and mercy to our enemies...
a. We are "complete," "full-grown" in demonstrating love
b. Just as our Father in heaven is when He shows kindness to
evil and unthankful men!
1. This section of Scripture is just another vivid demonstration of how
the "righteousness of the kingdom" EXCEEDS the "righteousness of the
scribes and Pharisees"
2. The principles presented in this sermon are certainly challenging to
our understanding, and to the application of them in our lives
3. But if we really want to be:
a. "sons of your Father in heaven"
b. "perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect"...
4. ...it is imperative that we be influenced:
a. More by the teachings and example of the Son of God
b. Than by the attitudes and example of the "tax-collectors"!
In the next lesson, we shall begin to consider the righteousness of the
kingdom "with respect to man's relation to God" (Mt 6:1-33)