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From Gethsemane to the Cross - How To Deal With Enemies

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From Gethsemane to the Cross How To Deal With Enemies

 

Matthew 5: 43-48 "You have heard the law that says, 'Love your neighbor' and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

 

Dealing with the enemies we face. Not an easy subject to grapple with. The dictionary defines enemy as an opponent. Someone in opposition to us. The world; the unbelievers. It is always a source of great sadness for me to see how some fellow believers deal with the people who do not share our beliefs. Unfortunately, too often there is a general display of disdain, superiority, and arrogance. The world is treated as a cesspool of sin while the church is lauded for its purity. But for the grace of God go I beloved. I was once in that cesspool and so were you. I might add that the church is not always so pure. I want to take a walk today with our Lord and Savior as His life was drawing to a close here on earth. Within the last three stops of His life we can see how He intended for us to deal with our "enemies."

 

The first stop is in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus had prayed to God to take this cup of wrath that was approaching Him but God's will would be done and Jesus knew it. He had prayed so hard that He literally sweated blood. His 33 year life was coming to its end. His three year ministry was reaching its apex. His rag-tag band of followers would soon abandon Him and He would have to bear the burden of the sins of the entire world upon Him. He is approached by a band of men seeking His arrest, led by Judas who had betrayed Him. The mob was armed to the teeth with swords and clubs. Peter, impetuous as always, draws his sword and cuts off the ear Malchus, the slave of the High Priest. Can you imagine this scene? Jesus set to be arrested and here is this slave with his ear on the ground, blood everywhere. Does Jesus just go quietly into that goodnight with His enemies? Does He fight back? Does He curse the ground they walk on? Does he quote Scripture to them? No. He shows His compassion towards them:

 

But Jesus said, "No more of this." And he touched the man's ear and healed him. Luke 22: 51 (NLT)

 

Once again, picture this scene! Jesus could have done anything He wanted! He could have called down ten legions of angels and destroyed His enemies! He could have told them how wrong they were and how righteous He was. But He did none of those things. His last act on this earth, before being brought to trial for crimes He never committed, was to pick up the severed ear of one of the people there to arrest Him and re-attach it miraculously! No indignation. No anger. No malice. Just the compassion to pick up the bloody ear and heal one of the men who would take Him to the cross. You would think that would give His arresters pause but nonetheless, they took Him to the Sanhedrin.

 

So the first instruction from God in dealing with those who are in opposition to us is to have compassion towards them. It seems in vogue to blame the world for the ills we all face. To look upon them with contempt. Telling someone they are going to hell is not witnessing. Reflect to the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Here we have a Jewish man who is mugged and left for dead along the roadside. Lying in a pool of blood, two very religious people walked right by him, offering no help. In fact, they passed by on the other side of the road to not even be near him. But a Samaritan, and outsider, stopped and treated his wounds. He took him to a local inn where he paid for his lodging as he recovered. Jesus ends the parable as such:

"Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?" Jesus asked. The man replied, "The one who showed him mercy." Then Jesus said, "Yes, now go and do the same." Luke 10: 36-37 (NLT)

The world is dying beloved. They are lying on the side of the road in a pool of blood and they are dying. Unless they come to salvation they will spend an eternity separated from God. Too often Christians are like the overly religious people in this parable. Crossing the street to avoid having to come into contact with the dying. We have what they need beloved! What did Jesus say we are to be?

"You are the light of the world--like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. Matthew 5: 14-16 (NLT)

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