Luke 6:22-23 Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
As Jesus’ popularity increased, so did his opposition. Knowing that hatred for him would spill onto his followers, Jesus prepared them for insult and rejection. They would be considered evil because they followed the Lord of life.
The rejection of good in favor of evil is due to human sinfulness, but also to the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12), wrote Paul. Demonic forces oppose what is good by calling it evil, and promote what is evil by calling it good. Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter (Isaiah 5:20), wrote Isaiah.
As Christianity spread throughout the empire, Christians were accused of being atheists who practiced incest and cannibalism. They were atheists because they did not worship the Roman gods; they were incestuous because they married their brothers and sisters; and they were cannibals because they ate the body and blood of Jesus.
Each of these rumors was essentially false, but true in a sense. The early Christians were not atheists, but they refused to worship the Roman gods. They were not incestuous, but they married fellow believers whom they called brothers and sisters. They were not cannibals, but they partook of bread and wine, which they called the body and blood of Christ. The world will never understand Christianity, and will often mistreat believers. But we are in good company. For that is how [they] treated the prophets, said Jesus.
Luke 6:27-28 Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
This was contrary to the practice in Jesus’ day, which was to hate your enemies (Matthew 5:43). Hating enemies feels good, but will hurt us more than if we love them. Hatred is an infection that will kill us from a simple wound.
Two brothers had a nasty argument over their inheritance. A genie appeared to one and offered anything he wanted, on the condition that his brother got twice as much. He thought for a moment and said, Okay. Make me blind in one eye. Hatred is so perverse that it would rather suffer than see an enemy prosper.
Jesus preached the opposite of hate, and practiced what he preached. From the cross he prayed, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34). It is one thing to pray for your enemies after they stop hurting you, but Jesus prayed for his killers while they were still killing him.
Stephen followed Jesus’ example when he also prayed for his killers. Lord, do not hold this sin against them (Acts 7:60), he said. Christians can forgive others because they have been forgiven, and because we have eternal life in the best of all possible worlds. Everything does not have to be perfect now, since it will be in the future.
Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.
This is the image of a grain merchant giving his customer a very good deal. He fills the container, presses it down, shakes it together and pours in even more. Our sinful nature wants to keep as much as possible, but Jesus taught that It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Could he be right?
One of the greatest joys of my youth was giving my little brother a bicycle for his sixth birthday. I could not afford a new one, but I found some parts in the garage that made a good start. I repainted the frame, cleaned the wheels and made several other improvements. The project took a few weeks, and I replaced so many parts that it completely drained my savings.
What kept me going was the joy it would bring to my little brother. Every hour was a labor of love, and every new part was a gift of love. I was so excited that I woke him up slightly after midnight, on the day of his birthday, to give him the gift I made for him. He was thrilled, of course, but I had even greater joy from giving. That little labor of love enriched my life far more than his. This is the culture of heaven, and what Jesus wants on earth. Give, and it will be given to you.
Luke 6:39 Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?
If you were in the middle of a large city, and suddenly lost your sight, you would reach out for someone to lead you. But if you grabbed onto someone who was also blind, you could both step into traffic and be killed.
That is what it is like to follow anyone other than Jesus Christ. Everyone else is a blind guide, who will lead us into the pit of hell. Jesus is the only one who sees with perfect clarity. Since we are all incurable followers, our only wisdom is to follow the best.
Furthermore, whoever leads us away from Christ wants us to follow them instead. This is true of our peers, professors, employers and entertainers. But before we follow anyone else we should ask, Who is more reliable than Jesus Christ? Who is wiser than Jesus Christ? Who has better credentials than Jesus Christ? Would you rather follow a blind guide, or the only one who sees?
Luke 6:45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
People may have guarded their speech in front of Rabbi Jesus, but we can imagine a teenage Jesus overhearing the speech of ordinary folk. He must have been surprised, sometimes, by what came out of their mouths. Jesus concluded that what people say is a good indication of what is in their heart.
I was waiting for an elevator when a man came walking down the hall. He was around the corner, so I could not see him, but I heard his approaching steps. Then, just before he turned the corner, he let out a single word. I had never met the man, or even seen his face, but I knew something about him: his vocabulary was not entirely Christian.
Many would say, It just came out. But according to Jesus, nothing comes out that is not already in. One of the most certain indicators of what is in our hearts, is what comes out our mouths. And everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned (Matthew 12:36-37), said Jesus.
Reflection and Review
Why should believers love their enemies?
Why is it hard to be generous?
Why do words our words matter?