Luke 6:27–42 . . . Bible Study Summary with Videos and Questions
The Sermon on the Mount, Part 2
Last week's coverage of the first part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount dealt first with "blessings" (vv. 6:20–23), followed by "woes" (vv. 24–26). Today's passage isn't one we enjoy reading. It's designed to make us uncomfortable, giving us sweaty palms, as it focuses on "loving our enemies" (vv. 27-36) and "not judging others" (vv. 37-42). Before we dig into part 2 of Jesus' sermon, it's probably a good idea right now to ask yourself two questions: How am I doing today at loving my enemies? and Am I succeeding at not judging others?
Our natural inclination is not to "turn the other cheek" nor give a freeloader a "loan." Frankly, we ought to admit to ourselves that we're naturally opposed to what Jesus had said in Luke's account of the Sermon on the Mount. Because of this, you might want to delay judgment on this message until you've had sufficient time to think about it, study God's Word further, pray, and privately search your heart.
While last week's "blessings and woes" passage was directed to a small group of disciples (v. 20), we find today's passage directed to a broader group of people who gathered to hear him (vv. 6:27; 7:1). Verses 27–30 define those practices that Jesus' followers must carry out with their enemies; vv. 31–38 lay down the principles that require and motivate one to act as Jesus taught in his preceding verses; and vv. 39–49 show Jesus using a parable to point out why his suggested practices are needed.
How to “Love One's Enemy — Your Enemy” (vv. 27–30)
We begin with an overview of what Jesus is calling for in this section, focusing on each aspect individually.
(1) Jesus is giving instructions to those who'd become his followers and disciples. He tells those who'd follow him what practices are required of them.
(2) All requisite practices pertain to our "enemy," that is, the one who hates, curses, mistreats, attacks, and takes advantage of us; the one who strives to achieve his or her best interests, usually at our expense.
(3) Such practices often respond to a specific evil or personal offense that our enemy has done to us personally.
(4) How we're to "love" the enemy is contrary to Judaism, our culture, and our fallen nature; that's a supernatural response. The way one acts sets us — Jesus' followers — apart from others.
(5) Loving enemies requires us to surrender our personal rights. That is, we shouldn't file charges against an enemy, no matter what he or she had done.
(6) Jesus' list of practices is suggestive and not all-inclusive. Matthew includes an additional matter to consider: "If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles" (Matthew 5:41). Jesus' listed practices are examples of a more general principle: Do not return evil for evil, but overcome evil with good.
(7) Faith and supernatural enabling are required, because these required acts can't be accomplished by using one's strength alone; a new mind and a new strength that Christ provides through his Spirit are essential.
The Principles Behind Our Loving Our Enemies (vv. 31–38)
The precepts about loving our enemies given by our Lord in vv. 27–30 are based upon principles. Jesus gives us several governing principles in vv. 31–38, beginning from the lowest-level principle and ascending to the highest, as follows.
(1) Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This principle is based upon the fundamental premise of reciprocity. We tend to respond to others in kind; we love those who love us; we're kind to those who are kind to us; we're harsh to those who are harsh to us. The "golden rule" teaches us that that, given the human tendency toward reciprocity, we should treat others in the same way we want them to respond to us.
(2) Do good unto others when they've done evil to you. Jesus made it very clear that there's no virtue in living according to the same standard as others, even sinners (vv. 32–34). The Christian must surpass the world's minimum standard in the matter of loving others, since the world gladly responds in kind. Sinners love those who love them. But saints must love those who hate them, which is the more difficult path. If others reciprocate in kind, we're to respond otherwise. We're to not only give love for love and good for good, we're to love our enemies and return good for evil. (How are you doing meeting both requirements?)
(3) Do unto others, without looking to man for your reward. Worldly man does good things for others, expecting recipients of that good to reciprocate. The Christian, however, is to disregard what the enemy's done to him or her and act kindly toward the enemy without expecting them to reciprocate kindly. Sinners look to men for their reward and they expect their rewards to come quickly. Christ's followers are to look to God for their reward and must realize that it may not come until eternity. This means that we must live by faith so we can love our enemy; it's the faith that God sees and rewards, with the blessings coming later on.
(4) Do unto others as God has done unto you. While sinners deal with others in accordance with the way they've been treated by them, saints are to deal with others in accordance with the way God has treated themselves. Christ's followers are to show mercy to their enemies because God has shown mercy to us. God's sincere mercy provides the follower of Christ with motivation to show mercy to his enemy, treating others as God has treated us.
(5) Do unto others in the same way you want God to do to you. First, we're to deal with people the way that God has dealt with us. We must also deal with them in ways that determine how God will deal with us later. This isn't an easy principle to grasp; thankfully, our Lord Jesus teaches that the way we treat others determines how God will treat us. In the "Lord's Prayer," Jesus taught that we're to ask God to ". . . forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Matthew 6:12). If we don't grasp this essential concept, Jesus helps us when he continues: "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:14–15).
God deals with us in the same way that we deal with others (vv. 37–38). He judges us according to the standards we use for others. When we deal with others mercifully, God deals with us mercifully. When we demand our just rights, then God gives us the justice we deserve.
A Parable Can Help Us Love Our Enemies (vv. 39–42)
With v. 39 introducing readers to a flinching parable that Jesus spoke on the mount, the references to a speck of sawdust and a wooden plank in one's eye help explain why it's essential for Jesus' followers to obey these commands.
"Bitterness" vs. "Betterness" In simplest terms, Jesus rebukes "bitterness" toward others. He says that it's necessary for his followers to "march to the beat of a different drum," living life by a higher standard, having their practices be better than those who don't follow him. "Betterness" is the unifying thought undergirding these four closing verses, providing a memorable unity of thought. Each of the Lord's statements that reason for the "betterness" of living for his followers are briefly summarized as follows: (1) Those guiding the blind need to see better than those they lead (v. 39); (2) Teachers must be better than their students (v. 40); and (3) So-called "eye inspectors" and "correctors" must have better vision than those whose eyes they're trying to" cleanse" (vv. 41–42).
In each and every illustration, the need for "betterness" has been established, despite the high cost of living according to Christ's higher standard. Christ's commands to "love our enemies and not judge them" represent a very high standard, higher than that which others hold or practice. Thankfully, all things are possible for those who trust in God, obey his commands, and are sustained by the Spirit's indwelled power and grace.
[You can see in Warren's commentary on the Parable of the Blind, Leading the Blind how Luke wrote this account to demonstrate how people, whether the Jewish leaders then or us today, generally seem blind to the terrible mistakes we make in life.]
- Q. 1 How does Jesus' description of love for your enemies challenge you?
- Q. 2 Have you shown love to an enemy? How did it go for you? How did it go your your enemy?
- Q. 3 How can this love be a model for relating to someone you find difficult?
New International Version (NIV)
[To view it in a different version, click here; also listen to chapter 6.]
† Watch this passage-specific video clip from Jesus Film Project titled "Sermon on the Mount."
Love for Enemies
27"But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
37"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
39He also told them this parable: "Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.
41"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.