How should followers of Jesus respond to those who disagree with or mistreat them? In Luke 6, Jesus unfolds a radical alternative to opposition and hatred. As members in his new kingdom community – a kingdom where heaven is breaking through on earth – they are to have radically different values than the world empire.
He says in Luke 6:27-28 (NIV): “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
This was a radical idea. No other teacher from antiquity taught this – not in Judea or any other culture in the world. Jesus was the first to bring it to our world.
When someone hurts us, we are usually faced with two options. The first is retaliation. If you hit me, I’m gonna hit you back. If you take something from me, I’m gonna take something from you. The second option is to refrain. If someone hates you, or hurts you, don’t retaliate. Just walk away. Do nothing. Ignore them, or if you have to, tolerate them.
But then Jesus presents a third option: radical love. This is more than warm sentiment. This radical love doesn’t sit on its hands. It’s a DOING kind of love. If you keep reading in verses 29-31, you discover that radical love doesn’t hold back – it pushes forward. It loves, it prays, it blesses, it gives. And to illustrate this, Jesus uses a literary device known as overstatement. He gives examples of how to love radically, in worst-case scenarios. Turn the other cheek. Give the shirt off your back. He’s overstating in order to drive home the point that to truly love our enemies, we should give, give, and give some more.
Jesus models for us this radical love by how he responds to his enemies. He says to them:
Here is the whip – rip my back to ribbons.
Here is the crown – crush it into my skull.
Here are the nails – smash them through my hands.
Here is the spear – thrust it into my side.
Mock me, reject me, shame me. And I will respond by giving you my life.
This is radical love.
This is a rewind to one of my recent teaching messages at Crosspoint Church. You can hear the full message here.