But to you who are listening I say: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.Luke 6:27-31
To understand Jesus teaching is to understand all that Jesus has done for us. In the April 27th reflection we thought of God as creator and how that meant he had the right to be obeyed.
To understand God as creator and therefore as having the right to our obedience is to understand just how much we have insulted God. Paul talks about how we were once alienated and enemies of God. (Colossians 1:21-23)
When Jesus taught love for enemies, doing good to those who hate you, blessing those who curse you and praying for those who ill-treat you and turning the other cheek or giving your shirt when someone takes your cloak. He was not teaching something he wasn’t prepared to do himself. The culmination of the gospel is Jesus sacrifice and submission to the mistreatment of the Jewish authorities ending in the cross.
Remember all of this for the people Paul described as being once alienated and enemies of God – we only need listen to the mockery Jesus faced even as he hung on the cross. ‘…and they divided up his clothes by casting lots… the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself…”’ (Luke 23: 34-35)
Understanding Jesus is to understand that our approach to life, to people and to insults changes. It is to humble ourselves, taking on the likeness of Christ who did not see equality with God as something to be grasped but humbled himself… (Philippians 2: 5-8)
In what way do our relationships need to change? In what ways do we show a lack of love, a lack of humility, prayer for our enemies. In what ways can we be a blessing to those who make life difficult for us?
Prayer Lord Jesus, thank you for how you have loved me, done good to me, blessed me, prayed for me. Thank you for how you gave me so much more than a cloak or a shirt, you gave your life. Lord Jesus teach me to do for others what you have already done for me. Amen.