We finish this particular section of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus dissects the Scribes and Pharisees interpretation of the Old Testament law by reading today Matthew Chapter 5 verses 43-48. This passage very much follows on from the one yesterday. A few things to note.
Firstly the interpretation of the time, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy’ (v.43) was a distortion of the OT law.The reference that is half-quoted/misquoted is Leviticus Ch.19 v.18, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ ie quite a high standard, and no mention of enemies. It also ignores the thrust of some other instructions at the time which show grace and kindness to those who were not Israelites.
Secondly, the true disciples of God need to follow the attitude of God where He actually blesses everybody through common grace, ‘He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.’ (v.45).Isn’t it interesting/ironic that this saying also gets misquoted today, where people just say when their plans are helped by a sunny day, ‘The sun always shines on the righteous’??
Thirdly, if we just love our friends and neighbours who are just like us, then we are no different or better than tax collectors or pagans (vs.46-47). Because fallen man can still love, because they still have something of the image of God in them.To use modern-ish examples, it was often said that the Kray twins (London gangsters of the 1960’s) loved their Mum very much. If a modern sports team is going to work well, there has to be much care and support and comradeship (even love) for one another.
However, Jesus’ call to his followers is to love people when there is no particular self-interest involved, except perhaps that they might catch a glimpse of the love of God, of the love of Christ, who love them immeasurably more than we ever can.To quote from the 1st letter of John, which we looked at recently in our daily emails,’This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.’ (1 John Chapter 4 verses 10-11).
As I said yesterday, this is really challenging stuff, and for which we need the Lord’s help always to put into practice.
From our extended church address list, let us remember in our prayers today,- Beatrix, along with Bennet and Emelia,- Tina Tibbett