In verses 24 through 26 the Lord speaks to the multitude of unbelievers present. In verse 24 He says, “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.” The Greek word for “but” also means however, yet. Verses 24 through 26, at the time of speaking, could apply to the unbelieving Jews, who hardened their hearts to reject the Savior.
In verse 24 the Lord pronounces a woe to those who are rich. He tells them that they have received their consolation. The Greek word for “received” was used in a commercial sense to acknowledge receipt of full payment.
In verses 25 and 26 the Lord went on to say, “Woe to you who are satiated now, for you shall hunger. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same manner their fathers did to the false prophets.” Here we see that those who desire to be praised by others and highly regarded by them will be like false prophets.
In 6:27 the Lord turns from the outsiders to His disciples. Verses 27 and 28 say, “But to you who hear I say, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray concerning those who revile you.” In verse 27 the ones who hear are those who believe, those who receive the Lord’s word.
In verses 27 and 28 we see the highest standard of morality. To love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us is the highest standard of morality. It is also the highest standard of morality to bless those who curse us and to pray concerning those who revile us. Although it is easy for us to read these verses, it is extremely difficult for us to practice them. Actually, in order to fulfill these words, we need to be a God-man, a person saturated with God and mingled with Him.
In verse 29 the Lord says, “To him who beats you on the cheek, offer also the other; and from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.” To offer the other cheek to the one who beats us proves that we have the power to suffer instead of resisting, and the power to walk neither in the flesh nor in the soul for our own interests, but in the spirit for the kingdom of God.
The “cloak” in verse 29 is an outer garment, and the “tunic” is a garment worn next to the body. Here the Lord says that from him who would take away our outer garment we should not withhold our inner garment. However, to conduct ourselves in this way we need to be saturated with God.
In verse 30 the Lord goes on to say, “To everyone who asks of you, give; and from him who takes away your things, do not require their return.” To give to everyone who asks us and not to require the return of our things proves that we do not care for material things and are not possessed by them.
Verse 31 says, “And even as you want men to do to you, you do to them likewise.” This indicates that what we want others to do to us we should first do to them.
In 6:32-34 the Lord Jesus says, “And if you love those who love you, what thanks is it to you? For even sinners love those who love them. For if also you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks is it to you? Even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what thanks is it to you? Even sinners lend to sinners that they may get back an equal amount.” In these verses “thanks” corresponds to reward, and “what” refers to the quality of the reward. Hence, “what thanks” denotes what kind of reward.
To receive thanks is to receive a reward. If you do something good for a person and he gives you his thanks, that “thank you” is a reward to you. In these verses the Lord is asking what kind of thanks, what kind of reward, it is to us if what we do to others is the same as what sinners would do. Even sinners love those who love them, do good to those who do good to them, and lend with the hope of receiving back an equal amount, if not more.
In verse 35 the Lord continues, “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 unthankful and evil.” In this verse we have the secret of living the kind of life described here. The secret is the life of God. If we would fulfill all these principles, we must have the life of God. We must be born of the Most High, born of God, and thereby become sons of the Most High.
As those who have been born of God, we are able to love our enemies. God loved us even when we were His enemies (Rom. 5:8). We need to be impressed with the fact that God loved us while we were yet His enemies. Now His love has been imparted to us. The love with which we love others, therefore, is the love of God our Father.
The Bible tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8). As Spirit is the nature of God’s Person, and light is the nature of God’s expression, so love is the nature of God’s being. Hence, if we have been born of God, we surely have been born of the nature of God’s being, which is the divine love. As those born of God, we have His life and nature. Spontaneously we are now able to love our enemies even as God our Father loves them. This is the reason the Lord tells us to love our enemies so that we may be the sons of the Most High, the One who is kind to those who are unthankful and evil.
In 6:36 the Lord says, “Be full of pity, even as your Father is full of pity.” Pity surpasses love and mercy. It is possible to show mercy to someone without being full of pity. It is actually easier to love others than it is to be full of pity toward others. The reason for this is that often we love those who are good. Pity, however, goes much farther than love. We need to exercise our mercy in order to reach those who are in a pitiful condition.
According to our natural understanding, we may think that to be full of pity toward someone is to have mercy on a person who is sick or in poverty. But this is not the meaning of pity according to the context in this chapter. The context indicates that a person who hates us and who reviles us is in a pitiful condition. Therefore, toward such a person we should not only have love, but should also be full of pity. We need to pity the one who is evil and who is altogether not lovable. As those who have been born of God, we should be full of pity even as our Father is full of pity.
In this message we shall continue to consider 6:17-49, where the Lord Jesus teaches His disciples the highest morality.
Verse 37 says, “And do not judge, and you will by no means be judged; and do not pass sentence, and sentence will by no means be passed upon you; release, and you will be released.” Here to pass sentence is to condemn, and to release is to forgive. If we do not condemn, we shall by no means be condemned. Likewise, if we forgive, we shall be forgiven.
If we live in a humble spirit under the Lord’s ruling, we shall always judge ourselves, not others. God’s children will be judged with what they judge. If they judge others with righteousness, they will be judged by the Lord with righteousness. If they judge others with mercy, they will be judged by the Lord with mercy. As James 2:13 says, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
Years ago I heard what C. H. Spurgeon said in a sermon on forgiveness. In that sermon he pointed out that it is difficult for Christians to forgive others. He said that we may think that we have forgiven someone. However, our forgiveness can be compared to burying a dead dog and allowing the tail to show. After forgiving someone, we may say, “So-and-so offended me, but I have forgiven him.” This is to show the “tail” of the “dog.”
If we have really forgiven someone, we should also forget the offense. Once we have forgiven someone in a matter, we should not mention it again. Every time we mention an offense which supposedly has been forgiven, we are pulling out the tail of the buried dog to show others that the dog has been buried. If we do this, it indicates that we have not released the one who offended us.
According to the New Testament, to forgive means to forget and to release. We need to forget the offense and release the offender. Once we have done this, we should never speak of the matter again.
In verse 38 the Lord goes on to say, “Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will give into your bosom; for with what measure you measure, it will be measured to you in return.” M. R. Vincent has pointed out that here “bosom” denotes “the gathered fold of the wide upper garment, bound together with the girdle, and thus forming a pouch.” Here the Lord is saying that when we give to others, our Father in heaven will always return to us much more than we give.
I once heard of a saint who was considering giving a particular gift to someone. In this case the gift was a number of fish. First this saint had the thought of giving away ten fish. But the more he thought about it, the more he reduced the number. At a certain point he realized that the thought of giving less was a temptation from the enemy. Becoming angry with the Devil, he said to him, “Satan, if you keep on tempting me, I will give away everything.” This illustrates our need for the willingness to give. If we give to others, we shall receive in return. What we measure to others will also be measured to us.
Verse 39 says, “And He spoke also a parable to them: Can a blind man guide a blind man? Will not both fall into a pit?” At the time of speaking, this word could have applied to the leaders among the Jews. In Matthew 15:14 the Lord called the self-righteous and arrogant religionists “blind leaders of the blind.” They thought they were clear concerning the way to serve God, but they did not realize that their eyes were veiled by their religion with their traditions. Hence, they could not see the reality of God’s economy. Their blindness led them to fall into the pit.
The parable in Luke 6:39 is simple, yet it reveals the divine wisdom of the Man-Savior. I doubt that any philosopher has spoken such a parable.
In 6:40 the Lord continues, “A disciple is not above his teacher; but everyone who has been perfected will be as his teacher.” The teacher here is Christ. When we, the disciples, are perfected, we shall be as our teacher, Christ.
In 6:41 and 42 the Lord says, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but the log in your own eye you do not consider? How can you say to your brother, Brother, allow me to take out the speck in your eye, not seeing the log that is in your own eye? Hypocrite, first take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck in your brother’s eye.” As children of God living in a humble spirit, we should first take the log out of our own eye whenever we look at the speck in our brother’s eye. The speck in our brother’s eye should remind us of the log in our own eye. As long as the log remains in our eye, our sight is blurred, and we shall not see clearly.
In 6:43 and 44 the Lord says, “For there is no good tree producing rotten fruit, nor again a rotten tree producing good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit; for they do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a thornbush.” This word also is quite simple, but it indicates that the Man-Savior was full of divine wisdom. The Lord’s sayings concerning the blind guiding the blind, the speck in our brother’s eye and the log in our own eye, and each tree being known by its own fruit express His wisdom.
In verse 45 the Lord says that the good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good, and the evil man out of the evil treasure of the heart brings forth what is evil. Then the Lord explains that the mouth speaks out of the abundance of the heart. Following this, the Lord asks, “And why do you call Me, Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?” (v. 46).
In 6:47-49 the Lord Jesus says, “Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and does them, I will show you whom he is like. He is like a man building a house, who dug and went deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood came, the river broke against that house and was not strong enough to shake it, because it was well built. But he who hears and does not do is like a man building a house upon the earth without a foundation, against which the river broke, and immediately it collapsed; and the crash of that house was great.” Here the house refers both to our being and to our work, our conduct. If our being is according to the Lord’s word, it will have a proper foundation. Likewise, if our work is based on the Lord’s word, it will have a solid foundation. If our being and our work are based upon the Lord’s word, they will be able to withstand any kind of test, any “flood” or “river.” But if our being and our work are not founded on the Lord’s word, the river will carry them away.
The “rock” in 6:48 does not refer to Christ. Instead, it refers to the Lord’s wise word, the word that reveals the will of God the Father. Our being and work must be founded on the word of the Man-Savior for the accomplishment of the will of our Father.
The house that is built on the rock and that is not shaken by the river is like the building work of gold, silver, and precious stones, which can stand the testing fire (1 Cor. 3:12-13). But the house built upon the earth without a foundation and that collapses when the river breaks against it is like the building work of wood, hay, and stubble, which will be burned by the testing fire. However, the builder himself will be saved (1 Cor. 3:12-15).
The Lord’s teaching in 6:17-49 gives us a clear view of the highest standard of morality. As one who has studied the writings of Confucius, I can say that the teachings of Confucius do not present such a standard of morality. The topmost teaching on morality is that of the Man-Savior. He Himself as the God-man lived a life that is the highest standard of morality. His life, work, and saving power are all in the highest standard of morality. The Lord conveyed His saving grace in His human virtues with His divine attributes. This is the highest standard of morality, and we all need to pay careful attention to it.