Lukeby Mike Raiter
Having just called the apostles, the Lord Jesus now teaches them how to live as His disciples. Surprisingly, perhaps, He doesn't begin with a list of commands-do this, don't do that. Rather, He reminds them of their identity as His disciples, and their ultimate destiny. While His instructions are for all, His primary audience are His disciples. Who are they? They are the poor, hungry, sorrowful, and persecuted (vv. 20-22).
God's servants are essentially weak and vulnerable. They are aliens in a hostile world, and in their spiritual inadequacy, they look to the only One who can help them. But they are blessed because God will richly reward those who rely on Him (v. 23).
Conversely, those who rely on their wealth, resources, and status will be cursed (vv. 24-26). There will be a day of reversal, when God will set things right. In the coming age, those at the bottom will be honoured, the poor will be rich, the hungry satisfied, and those who weep will laugh. Conversely, those who are now on top, the rich, the well-fed, and those who laugh, will be cursed. Jesus' disciples must remain faithful.
While the response to God's grace is to ″rejoice″ and ″leap for joy″ (v. 23), there are also moral obligations. Since we've been loved, we should love others, especially those who are against us (vv. 27-36). Further, Jesus warns us not to judge others, to condemn, or to withhold forgiveness (v. 37). These three commands belong together.
In Jesus' world, if you bought some grain in the market, the seller would place your grain in a container, shake it, and get the grain to level out. Then he could put more in and press it down until it was running over (v. 38). Jesus' point is that this is how God treats us: He doesn't sell us short. He overflows with mercy. Therefore, this is how I must treat you. This is the fruit a good tree will, and must, bear (vv. 43-45). This is the life of the one whose works match their words when they call Jesus ″Lord″ (v. 46). This is the house that will stand on the last day when the storm of judgment comes (vv. 47-49).
Amazing grace! Overflowing mercy! How could we not respond with both joy and obedience?
What things in life make you rejoice and leap for joy (v. 23)? If the joy of our salvation has faded, what can we do to rekindle it?
Loving your enemy (v. 27) is easy to say but hard to do. How can we find the strength to love those who insult us? In the light of what Jesus says in these verses (vv.27-36), how do we practically love our enemies?