As the pressures upon Jesus increased, he sought solitude and prayer with his Father (Luke 6:12-19) and chose to fellowship intimately with twelve men, whom he called apostles. He chose these from certain men who followed him. They were with him and shared his troubles (Luke 22:28). As I consider this Scripture, I have to wonder how willing I am to share in Jesus troubles today. I fellowship with him, and he knows my deepest secrets, but how willing am I to know his?
Luke 6:27-38 is all about bearing the image of God in one’s life (cf. Genesis 1:27). This has always been how God had reacted to men’s behavior towards him. Summed up, it is a matter of love, bearing the fruit of love in its in its eight flavors (cf. Galatians 5:22-23) toward others who have no loving intentions toward you. Luke records for us seven ways in which we are to image God:
- Love your enemies (Luke 6:27)
- do good to them who hate you
- Bless them who curse you(Luke 6:28)
- pray for them who despitefully use you
- And unto him who strikes you on the one cheek offer also the other; and he who takes away thy coat forbid not to take your shirt also (Luke 6:29)
- Give to every man who asks of you; and of him that takes away your goods ask them not again (Luke 6:30)
- And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise (Luke 6:31)
Our whole experience in this life is to be dedicated to doing as Jesus does (WWJD). Be merciful, as he is merciful; i.e. bear the fruit of Christ’s Spirit within me. Love my enemies, because Jesus loves his enemies. He died for me while I was still his enemy (Romans 5:6, 10). Jesus acted in character even when those who hated him watched him (cf. Luke 6:7), knowing that to act in character meant ostracism and hatred. I have to wonder, though, if I am willing to share in Jesus’ troubles here—to become a gazingstock whereby others wait for me to do as I should do, or say what I should say in moments when such a thing isn’t acceptable, or in modern terms, politically correct. Do I have the courage to act in character despite the consequences or number myself with those who do as Jesus did (cf. Hebrews 10:32-33)?
While on the cross, Jesus prayed asking God to forgive those responsible for crucifying him. I find it so disturbing that, while he hung there, his enemies weren’t satisfied in doing all they had done, but also had to curse him, saying: “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Messiah, the Chosen of God” (Luke 23:35). Matthew adds: “He trusted in God, let him deliver him now—if he will have him… (Matthew 27:42). I am amazed at the inner strength of Jesus who endured these insults, while he was suffering, refusing to strike back. I cannot help but recall at this point 2Samuel 16:5-12, where one of Saul’s relatives, Shimei, cursed David, and David would not permit any of his men to take revenge on him for David’s sake. Do I really wish to know Jesus here, to know the depth of his suffering (Philippians 3:10)? When I am at my weakest moment, when I am hurting and looking for someone to understand my pain, and not finding it, can I really bless others and speak well of them before God and men, while they insult and curse me in my distress, as though I am receiving my just reward?
As for “praying for those who despitefully use you” (Luke 6:28) I recall how Pilate wondered at Jesus as he acted in character (Matthew 27:13-14). Not only so, but Jesus didn’t even hold Pilate completely responsible for what he was about to do (John 19:11). Nevertheless, Pilate was not above using Jesus’ distress for his own political gain. He sent him to Herod, who completely humiliated Jesus before returning him to Pilate (Luke 23:7, 11). Because of this, Pilate and Herod were made friends (Luke 23:12). It is one thing to suffer a wrong, but to have one’s suffering be used as a commodity for the benefit of others is especially demeaning. Yet, this is what Jesus allowed, because he was declaring before all what God was like (John 1:18; cf. Hebrews 1:3). How much do we really wish to share in Jesus’ trouble here (cf. Luke 22:28)? God help us.
We are to take insults and even physical abuse without retaliating (Luke 6:29), because Jesus did so. Those who hate Jesus treat their friends well (Luke 6:32-33). Therefore, what is the difference in our own lives, if the only people to whom we are kind are our brothers and sisters in Christ? If we are kind only to those who are like us, what difference has the life of Christ made in us? Even unbelievers love those who are like themselves (Luke 6:34). The Golden Rule (Luke 6:31) is to be the attitude of everyone who decides he would want to be Jesus’ disciple. But, more than this, we are called to a greater Life. We are called to live the Life of Jesus, who dwells within us, pondering within ourselves WWJD.