“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
Comment: This continues with Jesus teaching about opposites. Love your enemies sounds crazy! We tend to drag up all the things which often have, not surprisingly, made us enemies. Different attitudes; spiteful actions; different backgrounds and goals. This was a very relevant subject to the Jews as they were a nation subject to the Romans, who had different gods and goals for the future from the Jews. It is also always a recurrent problem where people live together. Loving those who love you makes sense but the call here is to be generous, doing good, being merciful, even loving your enemy.
Often someone is our enemy because we make judgements. Jesus’ call is not a call to be undiscerning but forgiving and generous. I think Jesus had a great sense of humour – not laughing things off as unimportant but to get people in a mood to think again when they remember the examples. So he gives two word pictures which translated onto paper, as drawings by a cartoonist, almost make us fall off our chairs laughing. Can you imagine a stretch of road with a ditch beside it, littered with tripping and fallen bodies as people are leaving a blind institution. Trying to lead each other they are falling into the ditch, falling over each other, animals scattering in the confusion and a gawking public standing back not knowing what they should do?
Or imagine an ophthalmologist with his expensive scope leaning over a seated patient trying to find the speck which is causing the patient so much trouble? But he can’t get a decent look because sticking out from his own eye is not an eyelash but a plank of wood? A ridiculous story to make us see how ridiculous it is for us with all our inadequacies to sit in judgement over others!
Prayer: Forgive me please, but I tend to be judgemental and hold grudges for too long.