Active Love.

Tim Jones | Sunday 1st April 2012 | Matthew 5:43-48

Notes

  • These words are difficult and challenging. We have to keep in mind though that they were delivered by a real person in a real context.
  • The context was the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was speaking to Jews who were under oppression/occupation of the Romans. The Jews expected a Messiah who would release them – but Jesus didn’t release them in the way they thought He would.
  • Also as part of the content – the Pharisees were trying to bring back God’s teaching, trying to do the best that was humanly possible (e.g. an eye for an eye). But Jesus ups the ante.
  • Leviticus 19:18 – Pharisees had taken this and changed it from the original meaning.
  • ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ was dropped by the Pharisees and they added ‘hate your enemies’. There were manuals found in the Dead Sea Scrolls that had this same command.
  • Jesus says there are two ways to live: 1. The best you can humanly do, and 2. The impossibly attainable perfection of God, who is so other. Jesus sets the bar at the highest possible level: the same standard as God.
  • Definition of neighbour had to be defined.
  • Tax collectors were outcasts, corrupt people, betrayers – hated by the Jews.
  • Jesus emphasised that local concern was not enough – to only care about your friends/family/tribe.
  • People asked who their neighbour was and Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan. What He says is that we need to love the people who are opposite to and hated by us – our enemies – as well as people we like.
  • What kind of love? Active love, not just a feeling.
  • Your heart is what motivates/moves you.
  • This love is relentlessly seeking the good of others without seeking anything in return – a free gift.
  • Why is Jesus telling us to do this? So that it proves our sonship – that we are children of the Father in heaven. We reflect the love we have received from Him, for while we were His enemies He loved us and sent His Son to die for us.
  • Jesus goes further and says we are to pray for our enemies and persecutors – those who have set themselves against us. Jesus commands us to love them.
  • Bonheoffer – man of God who during the Nazi reign prayed for those who persecuted and abused him. Jesus was also persecuted and abused by humankind.
  • God’s standards are only achievable when He lives in you and empowers you with the Holy Spirit.
  • Jesus did all this Himself – lived out in the upmost perfection. Even on the cross He asked the Father to forgive those who had put Him there and were mocking Him!
  • We are all guilty – Christians are simply those who have received the free gift of mercy and forgiveness.
  • There is nothing God cannot ask of us who have been bought with His blood. We sacrifice our lives to God – it’s the only thing worth doing.
  • God gives us sonship and the Holy Spirit – we don’t do it in our own strength but in His.