Pastors, Bible Study Leaders, Educators:
Would you give me a few minutes of your reading time?
Briefly explore a sample lesson of a new Christ-centered, Bible study, The Life of Christ. This 54 week study will enrich the spiritual life of your congregation. It offers a wide variety of great resources and visual aids from the Internet. Thank you for your time and thoughtful consideration.
Blessings to you this day.
Ed Markquart, Author of this website.
View sample lessons
Love Your Enemies
to you and peace from God our Father
from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
all of you young people in grades 5-9 who are taking notes on these
Lenten sermons, the title of this sermon is:
LOVE YOUR ENEMIES. The text is Matthew 5:38-47.
Ed, how long were we sitting there in my office, looking at these
texts, before we got some kind of direction to go?
minutes. Ninety minutes. One hundred and twenty minutes. We had done
our research. We had done our reading. We sat down together and
tried to wade through these texts. “If somebody hits you on the
right cheek, offer the other.” “Do not resist evil.” “Love
your enemies.” We went down so many dead end streets and dead end
alleys. It was awful. It was so confusing and perplexing. We thought
we would never have a sermon done for tonight.
Bible says, “If someone slaps you on the right check, turn the
other cheek to you and let them slap that cheek as well.” What
does that mean for us today? How are we to understand that kind of
text in our life today?
start. What do you think it means? What do you think that means for
says in the Scriptures, “Don’t resist evil. Do not resist
evil.” That is what the Bible says. I have a question for you. How
about people like Gary Ridgeway? Gary Ridgeway, the man who is the
Green River murderer, who murdered 48 young women. He murdered 48
young women. Strangled them. Choked them. How about people like
that? Are we to turn our other cheek? Are we to turn away and ignore
that kind of violence by an insane man? Is that what Jesus is trying
to tell us here?
about on a greater scale? How about Adolph Hitler who killed six
million Jews? Are we to turn our backs and let six million more Jews
die? Is that what Jesus is saying in this text?
of course not. That isn’t what that text means at all.
about those terrorists of Al Quaida who brought down the Twin Towers
in New York and killed more than six thousand people. How about
those terrorists today who are inflaming conflict in Iraq. Are we to
turn our cheek towards them? And ask them to strike the other cheek?
They will, I am sure.
course not. Of course not. That isn’t what the text means. It
doesn’t mean that we are to turn our backs on evil. Let’s apply
these teachings to family situation with which we work. Let’s talk
about physical abuse within the family. Let’s say that we have a man
and a woman who are married to each other. This woman is coming to
church every Sunday and hears this passage, “Turn the other
cheek.” She interprets that passage to be: “Accept the abuse.”
Meanwhile she is being physically abused week after week and year
after year. Is that what this text means, that she is just supposed
to live with the physical abuse, and put up with it, year after year
after year? Is that what Jesus means?
don’t believe that at all.
how about sexual abuse. If you are part of a family which has an
unstable father who has been sexually abusing one of the children,
are you supposed to do nothing about it? Do you allow that father to
sexually abuse other young children who are growing up in that
family? Is that what this text is saying?
I don’t believe that. That is not what this text is about.
how about emotional
abuse? What if you have a woman living in her home and she is
exposed, not to physical abuse, and not to sexual abuse, but to
emotional abuse? You know, the Chinese water torture where you
can’t see the actual physical marks. Where this man has been
putting her down year after year? Is that what this text means? He
can emotionally abuse me on this cheek and then he can emotionally
abuse me on the other cheek? Is that what Jesus is saying?
I can’t believe that is what Jesus is trying to tell us here. Not
at all. This is not what Jesus is saying. Jesus is not saying that
we are to allow people to do evil things to us or to our loved ones.
We are not to be doormats for people and allow them to wipe their
feet on us. We are not to be passive and just sit back and accept
this kind of injustice or abuse. That is not at all what Jesus
you saying that God wants us to pursue justice?
God wants us to pursue justice. All these things that we have been
talking about with Ridgeway and Hitler and the terrorists and these
incidents of abuse that happen at home and in the family, these all
have to do with justice. We want justice done in the these
situations. God wants justice and we are to pursue justice. We are
not to be a permissive society that allows all this kind of violence
and abuse happen. God wants us to pursue justice but
God does not want us to pursue vengeance. There
is a big difference here. With Ridgeway, Hitler, the
terrorists, that kind of abusive violence needs to be stopped.
Justice is to pursue the killers and hold them accountable. That is
I ask you a question. Let’s get personal here. Let’s say that
the some person murdered one
of your daughters. Lindsay, Morgan, Shannon. Your daughter and she
was murdered at a shopping center by some unknown assailant. Be
honest. What would your reaction be?
don’t think there is any question about it for me. My initial
reaction would be revenge. I would want revenge. I would be so angry
I would want revenge. But I would hope that eventually I would want
justice. But at first, I know it would be revenge, if I were really
honest. … OK, but how about you, Ed? Suppose a killer killed one
of your children or grandchildren. What would your reaction be?
let me tell you. Vengeance. I would be deeply angry. I would want to
retaliate against that person who killed my child or grandchild. I
would want vengeance. And so our initial reactions as human beings
are the same. But ultimately, as God heals the heart, we come to
realize that what is really needed is justice. Justice means to make
sure that people like Ridgeway are put away, that they are put in
jail. That is what courts are for. We are feeling vengeance in our
hearts. That is what the court system is for. In a judge and jury,
you don’t have someone who is so emotionally embroiled in it that
he does irrational acts. That way justice is done and not vengeance.
else as we work through these texts, what is another thing that we
came up with here?
texts are difficult. To think through these texts is not easy. To
figure out a sermon from these texts was not easy. Jesus said,
“Love your enemies.” “Love your enemies and do good to those
who persecute you.” What does that mean? It seems that there are
historic enemies all over the planet. There are deep seated,
historic conflicts between the Jews and the Arabs. Between the Irish
and the English. Between the Indians and Pakistanis. There are these
deep, historic, long term conflicts. What is important is that God
loves all of these people who are on both sides of the conflict.
key for the text today is this: We are to be compassionate as God is
compassionate. Does God love the Jews any more than the Arabs? Does
God love the Arabs any more than the Jews? No. God loves them both.
The important thing is that when we have enemies is to remember that
God loves our enemies just as much as God loves us. When our enemy
in the good old USA was the Soviet Union, it is important to
remember that God loved the people in Russia just as much as God
are to look in the world in the same way as God does. We are to love
the world the way that God loves the world. We are to be
compassionate to the whole world as God is compassionate to the
of the best examples of that is throughout the Bible we hear about
this animosity between the Samaritans and the Jews. This occurs
throughout the Bible. Do you remember the story about the Good
Samaritan? It was a story about a man who was beat up by a robber
and several people passed by. Who was the one who finally stopped to
help? It was the Samaritan. That was Jesus’ point. The Samaritans
were the ones who were hated by the Jews. The Jews actually hated
the Samaritans but Jesus said, “No. It was the Samaritan who
stopped to help the victim who had been robbed.”
the story of the ten lepers who were cleansed. All ten lepers were
cleansed but only one returned to say thank you to Jesus. Who was
that? Jesus made a point of saying “that was a Samaritan.”
Jesus was trying to eliminate the animosity between Jews and
the heart of so much animosity is that lethal combination of race
and religion. So many times, our enemies are people who are not of
the same religion or not of the same race or ethnic tribe. In Iraq,
the Shiites and the Sunnis Muslims. In Israel, the Palestinians and
the Jews. In the world, the Christians and the Muslims.
Jesus, throughout the New Testament, is trying to break down all the
prejudices, all the barriers, all the “you are my enemy.” Jesus
is trying to break down all the conflicts due to race, religion,
class, economics or politics. Jesus
is forever breaking down all the dividing walls of hostility. Jesus
does not want us to have enemies due to race or religion or anything
is interesting to think that even in our own history, we know that
yesterday’s enemies are today’s friends. As we think about that,
it is obvious that the Japanese are our friends. Germany was our
enemy during World War II and now they are friends.
mother wasn’t supposed to marry a German.
Russia. Of all the things that are happening in the ex-Soviet Union,
we are now starting to get friendly relationships. Yesterday’s
enemies are today’s friends. How good it is that we have our
Russian brothers and sisters worshipping here in our sanctuary every
Sunday afternoon and Friday night. These Russian Christians are our
friends, brothers and sisters.
I like best about this puppet show was at the very end of it,
Charlie Brown was responding to Lucy who had been very nasty to him.
At the very end of the script, Charlie Brown said, “Lucy, I will
carry your books home.” Charlie goes over to Lucy in order to
carry her books home. Lucy says, “Charlie Brown, I have been so
mean to you, you don’t need to do that. Why don’t you carry them
just to the corner.” And Charlie said, “No, I will carry your
books allllll the way to your house.” In other words, I am going
to go the second mile, for you my enemy.
the text for today, Jesus is asking for us to go the second mile, to
go the extra distance. Not for my friend. I will go the second mile
for Ed. Ed is my good friend. I will go the second mile for my wife
and my family. They are my friends. I will go the second mile for
you in the congregation. You are my friends. But Jesus isn’t
talking about that. He expects you and me to go the second mile.
What Jesus is saying is, “Make the extra effort. Go the second
mile … for those people that you consider you enemy.” That is
what this text is all about.
you are filled with the heart of God, God is asking you to go the
second mile for those people who in the past have been our historic
enemies. Jesus’ teaching is very radical and revolutionary.
else did we find in here? There is one more thing we found, isn’t
one thing more? The danger of retaliation. The instinct is to
retaliate. The danger of retaliation is that retaliation just makes
matters worse. Down in Latin America in the recent past, they have
experienced what is called “the cycle of violence.” There has
been a cycle of violence between the left wing and the right wing.
The left wing commits an atrocity and the right wing does it back.
The left, the right. The right, the left. The left, the right. The
right, the left. It becomes an endless cycle of violence. Pretty
soon you have a circle and the cycle of violence that goes round and
round…like in Israel with the Israelis and Palestinians. This
cycle of violence gets worse and worse and worse. And something
needs to be done to break that cycle of violence. Jesus warned us
that it is dangerous when you get into that cycle of retaliation.
you and I work with many families and marriages in our church. In
the midst of so many of these family and marriage conflicts, one
spouse will do something bad and the other spouse will do something
to retaliate. It goes back and forth, back and forth, back forth,
back and forth and it escalates. You got a real mess on your hands
and these people are trying to destroy each other. The cycle of
retaliation in marriage is absolutely devastating. In fact,
retaliation does not help. In fact, retaliation makes things worse
and worse and worse.
one time Jesus was with his disciples down on the shores of Lake
Galilee. Jesus took his inner core of disciples up to the Mount of
the Beatitudes. He sat his disciples down and began to teach them
about the new moral guideline for his disciples. The Old Testament
was not enough. In fact, the Old Testament law was wrong for these
New Testament disciples. The Old Testament law was an eye for an eye
and a tooth for a tooth. That Old Testament law did not work anymore
for these New Testament disciples. Jesus said, “I want you my
disciples to learn a new moral code.”
Jesus said, “Love your enemies. Go the second mile for your
enemies. Do not retaliate. It will only come back to haunt you. Turn
the other cheek. Live a life of love.”
all of his disciples responded, “O, that’s easy Jesus. We can do
that. No problem.”
not at all. The disciples said, “This is very hard. This is very
who said that following Jesus was going to be easy?