Occasionally, when you’re reading a passage from one of the Gospels you start to think “Oh, I know this one. This is the (insert famous Jesus story here)”. Well this is definitely one of those passages.
Sermon on the Mount. Absolutely nailed on.
Except it’s not.
That one’s in Matthew. This is Luke and Jesus is on “a level place” (verse 17). Now the content of the two sermons are very similar and so cleverer people than I suggest that they’re probably based on the same occurrences, no matter what the terrain was like.
Anyway, with familiarity comes apathy. It’s easy to skim over this passage, jumping from famous verse to famous verse, without the content of the passage sinking in.
What we have here is an outrageous set of teachings. Jesus is tearing up the rulebook of how we as human beings are supposed to interact with one another. The old rules of parity and ‘give and take’ are gone. This is absurd generosity. Generosity that lavishes itself onto the world. Breaking down old divides by destroying those walls with generosity and love. It’s remarkable!
This passage (certainly up to verse 39) can sound a little like a list of instructions:
- Do the best thing you can do for the worst person you can think of… etc.
But that’s not really what Jesus is trying to do. He’s not writing a new rulebook, but rather painting a picture of how a Christian should act in the world. A new culture, a new format of interacting with others. Not obligation, but generosity.
If this is what Christian faith should look like, I think it’s fair to say we often fall short. If we as Christians lived in such a way that this incredible generosity was the norm, imagine the impact. It would really make the whole of society start to take note. Just as they did with Jesus.
If Christ is our model for a truly generous lifestyle, what step can we make today to become an example of that generosity to our family, friends, and enemies?