Loving Our Enemies

Loving Our Enemies

Bryan Jones |

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus teaches us a powerful lesson about love. He encourages us not only to show love to those who are close to us but also to extend that love to everyone, even our enemies.

Jesus at the Center of Our Story
Loving Our Enemies • Message 7
Bryan Jones
May 19, 2024

A. Two Loaded Questions…

(Luke 10:25-29)

Most people who haven’t even grown up in the church have heard of the Good Samaritan. And in this story, Jesus is going to be asked a loaded question. Have you ever been asked a loaded question? By a boss, spouse or a friend?

When I was younger, my dad said something that frustrated my mom. And like, I rarely ever saw my mom and dad get into it... but my dad said something that frustrated my mom... Keep in mind, this was my early teenage years when wisdom was a scarce commodity, but I remember I looked at my dad and said, Do you think that was a good thing to say, Louis?

And my dad just gave me that look like do you want to meet Jesus today? I knew if I valued my life, I would retreat, and retreat I did.

Now, Jesus is going to be asked two loaded questions in this text. And at the end… I’m going to ask you a loaded question…

Loaded questions #1

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Luke 10:25 (NIV)

Now, an expert in the Law was not an expert in the laws of the land, like a modern-day lawyer or policeman; he was an expert in biblical law. He would have had the first five books of the Bible memorized, and he was an expert in interpreting the Law and teaching people about it.

So masterfully, Jesus turns the table on this guy and asks…

“What is written in the Law?” He replied. “How do you read it?”

Luke 10:26 (NIV)

Because He knows it’s a loaded question. The reason this was loaded was because the religious leaders were divided on the second commandment…

The rabbis agreed on the first commandment… LOVE the Lord God with all your strength.

Fifty years before the days of Jesus, there were two rabbis, Rabbi Hillel and Rabbi Shammai, and these two rabbis would often have great debates. Hillel and Shammai were known commodities during the days of Jesus. Hillel had a grandson named Gamaliel, and Gamaliel was the rabbi of Paul.

One of their debates was on what the second greatest commandment was.

Hillel said the second greatest commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself.

But Shammai, No, no, no. The second greatest commandment: Be holy, as God is holy. It’s to be holy.

And so, when Jesus asks this question—Hey, expert of the Law, you know the Law. How do you interpret it? How do you read it? Tell me.

He answered: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

Luke 10:27-28 (NIV)

And Jesus agrees with the second commandment. But this lawyer isn’t satisfied, and let’s be honest, lawyers never really are, except for our founding Pastor Perry…

I find it interesting that Jesus is asked 183 questions and only answers 3… and let me say this: questions help diagnose where the heart is at… Whenever I’m having conflict conversations, I ask how people’s hearts are because some need grace, and others need truth…

Loaded question # 2

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Luke 10:29 (NIV)

So, think about this: he agrees with Jesus on loving your neighbor, but now he’s trying to get Jesus to agree with him on who his neighbor is.

What’s interesting is the word neighbor— is actually a word in Greek translated as one who is near…

In that day, people lived in tribes. You lived with those who were like you, voted like you, dressed like you, and so they didn’t have to love others…

In some Jewish cultures that actually taught it was ok to hate your enemy…

Jesus redefines a neighbor from one who is near to one who has a need… even if you have a prejudice towards them or they are your enemy…

Jews couldn’t stand Gentiles, especially Samaritans, and so they asked Jesus a loaded question… because no Jew would live near a Samaritan.. so, he thinks he is trapping Jesus because he hates Samaritans…

Jesus is redefining a love for everyone… everyone you come in contact with. Anyone you can help, even if they annoy you, even if they frustrate you, even if they hurt you… Jesus has called us to love and serve…

In Nova Scotia a few years ago, a kid was going through his closet on the first day of high school—he’s a ninth grader—and he found a pink shirt that he put on. He grabbed his backpack, got on the bus, and rode to school. Now, the school bully grabbed him by the backpack, threw him to the ground, kicked him a few times, and told him to never wear pink again.

Then, two juniors slid down to this kid. They looked at this freshman, and this is what they said: Hey, hey, hey, we just saw what happened. Will you wear that shirt tomorrow? The kid said: Did you see what happened? The bully?

Yeah, yeah, we saw that. Wear it tomorrow. We got your back.

These two juniors went on social media—Facebook and Twitter. They started texting all their friends, calling and emailing, telling the school: Wear pink tomorrow.

A school in Nova Scotia. Fourteen to fifteen hundred students. Over thirteen hundred seventy students the next day showed up wearing pink, making huge declarations that there would be no more bullying at their school. Yeah, amazing. Nova Scotia got wind of this, and they declared the first day of the school year as Wear Pink Day.

We live in a culture where people have prejudices, don’t we…

Some Seniors have prejudice toward Freshmen.

Some have a prejudice toward young people, some towards older people.

Some have prejudices toward certain political parties, that actually is like hate.

Maybe it’s toward a certain race (I was at a church, and someone told me their father told them to break up because of the color of their skin. Slavery might have ended 140 years ago, but prejudices still exist for some.)

Maybe it’s toward someone’s socioeconomic status. Some people who are up here think anyone down here is lazy. Or maybe you think rich people are selfish.

Jesus is speaking, and everyone knew that Jews were prejudiced towards Samaritans and Samaritans towards Jews.

B. A Brilliant Response…

(Luke 10:30-35)

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’”

Luke 10:30-35 (NIV)

  1. Loving God can’t be an excuse from loving people.

He’s tearing down how to interpret the Law… the first two people to walk about were a priest and a Levite… they were Jewish…

Now, priests worked in two-week shifts in the Temple. So, this priest had just had a two-week run offering prayers, serving people, and making atonements for sin. He’s probably tired but makes his way home.

Then he sees this body lying there. Now, a lot of people may think he’s busy. He doesn’t have the time. That’s not the case. It goes back to how he ranks the Law.

For him, the second most important commandment wasn’t to love your neighbor as yourself. It was to be holy. If a priest touched a ceremonially unclean person, he would have to return to the temple and go through a cleansing process. And he would be mocked or ridiculed.

Next up is the Levite, and what does he do…? Walks right on by… because he interprets the Law the same…

You know why I love this church… because you are unwavering in your beliefs to God… but you love people…

Do you know how many people come into our church… who are like, the last place I wanted to come was to church…? In fact, I was just talking to a guy who said he was at a pool, and someone came and invited him to church 3 times in one day… and finally, he was like: Listen, bro, I’ll go if you stop asking… and this guy I met him is amazing, but he’s got a colorful past, and some people would have been leery to connect, but not the people of Brookwood! … and God’s doing something in this place.

People who aren’t Christians aren’t going to love God. We shouldn’t compromise on the truths of God, but we can’t use their lifestyle as a reason to shame them or not love people… it’s our job to be a light… and so Jesus is tearing down any religion that keeps us from loving those in need.

  1. Loving our neighbor means loving our enemies.
    (Luke 10:30)

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.”
Luke 10:30 (NIV)

Now, a couple of things to note in this passage. First, the stretch from Jerusalem to Jericho was 17 miles, and there was one stretch that was common in Jesus’ day for people to be mugged, beaten and robbed. It was a famous spot called the Pass of Blood. People’s minds as He told this story would have gone straight to this spot.

Now, there is something else. The way you identified someone’s race/culture was by two factors—their clothes and their accent.

So, someone sees their clothes and goes, oh, he’s from Rome. He’s from Nazareth. They’re from Galilee.

The other I shared was the way they talk, their accent. Like we might hear someone and go, oh, they are British or Australian. Or northern, or from the deep south. 

Too big for their britches.

Coke—In the Midwest, Coke is pop… When I moved to Chicago, I said, I want a Coke. She said, great, and I said, Aren’t you going to ask me what kind?!?!

She's as Pretty as a Peach

Bless Your Heart—this is like a Southern curse—it’s their way of saying you’re an idiot.  

The two ways you could identify someone are gone in this story!

He’s tearing down any prejudices or excuses… simply put, your neighbor is anyone in need, even an enemy…

Maybe the most shocking verse in the whole of Matthew 5… could have been this verse…

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."
Matthew 5:43-45 (NIV)

But then, in verse 33, Jesus says what would have been the most shocking thing but a Smartian…

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.
Luke 10:33 (NIV)

When everyone heard this, it would have been in horror… The term Samaritan… It’s like a racist, derogatory term—a Samaritan.
For me and my house, it would be: But an Eagles fan, a Philadelphia Eagle.

Israel and Palestine… or Republican and Democrat… this is how much hatred, but even more. You were considered unclean if you walked into a Samaritan's house… they hated each other…

Pity – splachgon - compassion from your deepest soul. Compassion from your bowels. This is the kind of compassion that causes you to get up and do something.

In addition, notice the man gets off his donkey and walks. That was the role of a servant. People of status rode a donkey, and the servant walked in front.

Why love an enemy… why love those who are unlovable? Why love those who hurt us…?

This man was moved by compassion, and you know who else was moved by compassion, Jesus, towards you and I… Think about it…

What does this story sound like?

The Gospel. This is the Good News. Isn’t this what Jesus did? When we were lying abandoned, Jesus came. He paid for us. He nursed us. He gave us an identity. He paid for us, and He promised He will return.

The Good Samaritan is a picture of Christ.

You see, Jesus masterfully moves this discussion to being about the heart. He’s not saying, hey, you need to give to the needy. He’s saying you were needy, and someone else gave to you.

Two things I want to give you as we close…

Who has God placed in your path?

Loving our neighbor was a big deal to Jesus. Sometimes, busyness, fear or even annoyance can cause us to walk around those who are in need… I’m praying that when you see those around you, your heart will break for them to know Jesus.

I love what Tony Evans says…

On one hand, being too heavenly-minded will make you no earthly good, while on the other hand, being too earthly-minded means you are no heavenly good. But true balance occurs when you can bring good to earth through your heavenly mindset.
Tony Evans

God hasn’t called you to fight people or flee from people. He’s called you to be salt and light…

Who has God placed in your path… you are positioned to reach them, not me, not someone else… but you have to ask for compassion because it will cost something… it cost the good Samaritan something.

Can you name your enemy?

Jesus says:

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
Luke 10:36 (NIV)

And the expert in the Law couldn’t even utter the word ‘Samaritan.’

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him. Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:37 (NIV)

Sometimes, we just say ex, boss, kid, person, or sibling… because we have so much pain. But the first step of healing is to name them… bringing them into the light and love doesn’t mean forgetting, but it does mean forgiving…

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
Luke 6:27-28 (NIV)

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