A Jesus For Haters
Pastor Duane Smets
April 30th, 2017
I. The Way of Pride
II. The Way of Love
III. The Way of Truth
So as most of you know we’re studying The Gospel of Luke together this year as a church. It’s one of four books in the Bible that chronicle the life and ministry of Jesus on earth.
Luke’s is special and unique because unlike the other three writers, Luke wasn’t a Jew and he was a pretty well off doctor who ended up becoming a follower of Jesus. In part, because of that the way he sees Jesus and the things he includes and how he arranges his book, really focuses in on how Jesus was and is a savior for all people, all kinds of people.
Jesus engages anyone and everyone and invites all to follow Him and experience His goodness.
Now what we have for today is a pretty big chunk. We’re actually going to read and talk about a whole chapter. Last week we just looked at six verses, today we’re doing forty-nine.
The reason for that is this… When you’re reading through the Bible and trying to make sense of what it says, often if you just pull out a small section and try to figure it out, you’ll have trouble with it. That’s because most of the time the smaller pieces only make sense by being able to see the whole.
It’s kind of like doing a puzzle. When you do a puzzle the best thing to do is to do the border first. It makes it a lot easier to start there and then start seeing how the pieces in the middle fit in.
So in coming into chapter six of Luke’s gospel one of the things you’ll notice is that the chapter begins by Jesus calling Himself Lord and it ends with Jesus inviting people to call Him Lord. Those are the two bookends and what we have in the middle is a comparison between two different types of discipleship or ways of doing life.
There’s the moral way, which was the way the religious leaders of Jesus day taught and led where the goal is to do everything right, so as not to upset God and to be a good person. Or there’s another way, the way of Jesus that He presents, which ends up being a very different kind of discipleship and way of doing life, different than any other thing.
What we’re going to see is that there’s a group of people who really don’t like Jesus, they hate Him. And we’re going to see that the heart of that hatred is really something we all deal with and that Jesus has an answer for what to do about it. In light of that I titled my sermon for today, “A Jesus For Haters.”
You guys ready? Alright, let’s all stand in honor of Luke’s words being in God’s holy book, the Bible. I’ll read the chapter and then we’ll thank God and pray over our time in it.
On a Sabbath, while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” And Jesus answered them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?” And he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”
On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.
And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.“Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.
“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; 38 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.
“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
• Pastoral Declaration: This is the Word of the Lord.
• Congregational Response: Thanks Be To God.
• Pastoral Prayer
A Jesus For Haters. At the 2015 Grammy Awards, just a couple years ago now, one song won three different awards: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance. You know what it was? Some of you gotta know what coming right?
“Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift. You guys know it right? “The players gonna play, play, play, play, play. And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake. I shake it off, I shake it off.”
That’s kind of what this whole chapter’s about. So let’s jump in start putting some puzzle pieces together. If there’s one thing I hope you walk away remembering today it’s that “haters can become lovers” and I’ve got three points for us to help: The Way of Pride, The Way of Love and The Way of Truth and Let’s start with our first point.
I. The Way of Pride (v.1-16)
I called this first point, “The Way of Pride” because something you’ll notice in Jesus’ interactions with people is this consistent principle: He’ll interact with and welcome anyone, but consistently, He always opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Whenever anyone comes at Him thinking they know everything and have it all together, proud, He’s really hard on them. But anytime and every time someone comes to Him in need, seeking help, humble, He is kind and generous and gracious to them. Jesus opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Luke’s been introducing us to Jesus, we’re still in the beginning part of his book about Him and up to this point we’ve been seeing Jesus slowly and carefully select guys to be part of this special apprentice, internship group whom He calls disciples. In this chapter, in verses 12-16 that group gets finalized and their names are listed.
Now, Jesus wasn’t the only one who did this. In fact, basically, that’s how all higher education worked in that day and age. There weren’t colleges but there were rabbis who accepted disciples that they would teach and work with day in and day out.
In the first part of this chapter, we’re given this window into what the most popular way of discipleship was in Jesus’ day, the Pharisee way of discipleship. The word Pharisee means “separate” and their idea was to try and separate themselves from bad things and bad people, attempting to do everything just right.
That was the most popular way of thinking back then. It’s still probably the most popular way of thinking now. Did anyone watch or pay attention the NFL draft this week? Normally, I always watch it and get all excited about it but now without the Chargers I’m just football sad and didn’t even care.
But I was at the gym and they have these TVs on everywhere. One of the TVs was on ESPN and for some reason they were interviewing Eli Manning, the quarterback of the Giants. He was saying some things about what he remembered from his draft and the guy interviewing him asked him what he was most proud of in his career?
This was his answer:
“The thing that I am most proud of is that I'm the same person that I was when I got drafted. I have tried to keep my strong work etiquette, work ethic and also, I just try to be a good person. I try to be nice to people, try to take those same principles and make decisions on trying to do the right thing, whatever circumstances come up.”
I hear that all the time talking to people. I think what Eli says here reflects what is probably the most popular belief in our culture…that we should just be a good person, be nice and do the right thing. That life is about being a good person and doing the right things.
For these Pharisee guys, one of the right things in that day and age was the Sabbath. The Sabbath was this day of worship when you weren’t supposed to work and instead rest and relax, that’s what the word Sabbath actually means, “rest.”
These days most everyone who works has days off but they’re different days depending on your job or whatever. Back then, everyone had the same day off and because of that, they developed a lot of different rules and expectations on what was allowable or acceptable to do on this day off.
Jesus’ disciples picking heads of grain to eat on the Sabbath broke those rules and expectations. They saw that as work and had a rule against it.
In response, tells a story about David, one of their heroes who did the same thing, then declares Himself Lord of the Sabbath, and then acting as Lord on another Sabbath day heals this dude’s hand.
Basically, Jesus punks these guys out pretty hard. He essentially tells them that they don’t get what the Sabbath is really about anyway. Medical doctors and scientists will tell you that our bodies need rest. You actually can’t physically workout 7 days in a row for very many weeks in a row before weird stuff starts happening in your body.
The story of the Bible says God created the world in six days and on the seventh day rested. Because of that our day of rest is meant to be a day where we connect with God. The Sabbath is about relationship with God, whom the Bible calls the Lord.
So when Jesus says He’s “Lord of the Sabbath” He’s making a big statement. That’s why they get so mad at Him. They hate him for it.
Here’s the thing, what the moral approach to life is, the way of discipleship where you try to be a good person and do everything right, what it is, is an extremely prideful way of life. It’s where you think you’re good and can actually do enough good to make God happy with you.
Jesus here confronts that idea head on and instead says it’s about relationship with God that comes through Him, the Lord.
A few years ago North Carolina University did a study on religious beliefs in America that has now become very famous. The results were coalesced and published in Christian Smith’s book, Soul Searching where he summarized the findings by saying what most people believe in is “moral therapeutic deism.” Here’s how he describes what that is:
Moral Therapeutic Deism believes:
1. A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
5. Good people go to heaven when they die.
“It is a moralistic approach to life. It teaches that central to living a good and happy life is being a good, moral person. That means being nice, kind, pleasant, respectful, responsible, at work on self-improvement, taking care of one's health, and doing one's best to be successful."
That’s essentially the Pharisee group’s approach to life. Has that been your approach? Just to be a good person and do the best you can? How is that going?
Jesus offers a different way, not just a good way but a truly loving way, a way motivated not just by the hatred of evil but motivated by the love and mercy of God. It’s a way for haters to become lovers. So let’s look into His way, the alternative He offers in our second point I’m calling, “The Way of Love.”
II. The Way of Love (v.17-36)
What we’ve got in this section is pieces from Jesus’ most famous sermon He gave which has come to be known as the “Sermon On The Mount.” Now, there’s a ton we could talk about. Each line is packed and profound and weighty. We could easily spend the rest of the year working through each part of it. It really is a literary and ethical masterpiece. But I’m gonna try and just stay kind of high level and try not to get down too deep in the weeds.
Here’s why. I think what the Sermon on the Mount does and what it’s intended to do, is to crush us. I think Jesus sets up an impossible standard here.
I spent a lot of time in it this week and found myself so convicted. Jesus’ words here kind of function like a spotlight into the soul and they shine light on things that when you see them don’t look so good.
Let’s just go down the line.
Blessed are the poor. Who wants to be poor?
Blessed are the hungry. Who wants to be hungry?
Blessed are those who weep. Who wants to be sad?
Blessed are you when people hate you. Who wants to be hated?
Woe to the rich. What? That’s can be bad, dangerous?
Woe to the full. Wait. I like being full and having things.
Woe to those who laugh. No. I don’t want anything bad to happen.
Woe to you when people speak well of you. Shoot. I like people praising me.
Bless those who curse you. No way. Forget you. You talk bad about me I’ll talk bad about you.
Pray for those who abuse you. You abuse me, I don’t want to pray for you except that God will smite you.
Offer your other cheek to someone who hits you. No. You hit me, I’m gonna hit you back, guarantee it.
Give to the person who steals from you. Um. I have weapons in my home to deal with anyone who tries to come take my stuff.
Give to the person who asks for money. I get so annoyed at people asking for money. My immediate thought is, get a job.
Do good expecting nothing in return. No ROI. What’s the point unless it’s gonna benefit me somehow?
What Jesus is doing here is pointing out just base simple things that we can’t even do because our hearts are so selfish and self-centered. Jesus’ goal isn’t for us to read this and then be like, “Okay, got it. I’ll go do that.”
His goal is for us to be cut to the heart and realize how far short we all fall. Over in the book of Matthew, he records the disciples’ response to the ethics of Jesus’ teaching. They turn to Jesus and say, “Who then can be saved?"- Matthew 19:25
That’s exactly where He wants us. That’s where this sermon goes. Verse 35-36 makes it clear. Jesus answer for all this list of things He points out is this: “The Most High is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, as your Father is merciful.”
You see, the whole point is that under Jesus’ law of love, we all fail and need the mercy of God the Father. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. Once we get that and believe that it begins to change us. It turns us inside out. And that’s what we need.
In other places Jesus talks about this way, His way as the way things are in His kingdom. There’s a good book titled, “The Upside-Down Kingdom” by Donald Kraybill. In it he writes,
“The kingdom of God points to an inverted, or upside down, way of life that contrasts with the prevailing social order. Those at the top of the social pyramid - the proud, the rich and the mighty - topple. They are stripped of their prestigious seats, dethroned, scattered and sent away empty. Meanwhile the poor and hungry, those at the bottom of the social hill, take a surprising ride to the top.
Good guys turn out to be bad guys. Those we expect to receive the reward get a spanking instead. Those who think they are headed for heaven land in hell. Things are reversed. Paradox, irony, and surprise permeate the teachings of Jesus. They flip our expectations. The least are the greatest. The immoral receive forgiveness and blessing. Adults become like children. The religious miss the heavenly banquet. The pious receive curses. Again and again, Jesus turns our world upside down.”
Jesus call is for God’s love and mercy to turn us upside down. Then what happens, what Jesus basically says is that His love is what then leads to the right action. Being loving is better than being good. Love guides us and it guides us to mercy, being merciful. Mercy is a movement of love toward people when they’re not good. [repeat]
Look at verse 35 and 36 again. “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.“
You can tell who a kid’s parents are by looking at their face. They have a likeness from the genetic traits they’ve inherited. What Jesus says here is the way we sons and daughters of God is by experiencing His mercy and then reflecting and expressing that mercy to others. That’s Jesus’ way of love.
You see what the light of Jesus’ teaching here shines light on in our hearts is that we’re the haters. All of us. We hate it when other people are not loving to us but we fail to see the lack of love in our own hearts, which is actually hatred.
But Jesus offers a way out. He offers mercy to haters. He makes a way for haters to become lovers.
Do you need that mercy today? Do you sense the need for God’s love to permeate your heart this morning? We all need it don’t we? None of us win under what Jesus calls us to. We all fail and need His love and mercy.
Well, after saying these pretty intense things, Jesus shifts gears a bit and tells a few stories to really drive home the point, so let’s follow Him in that and finish up with our third and final point for today, “The Way of Truth.”
III. The Way of Truth (v.37-49)
I called this point, “The Way of Truth” because Jesus’ stories do what all good stories do and that is that they just make something really clear, where the truth being communicated becomes so visible and so loud is resonates and reverberates in your soul like a bright burning light.
So Jesus tells three parables or stories here, one about an eye, one about a tree and one about a house.
The one about the eye is where that famous line of Jesus always gets quoted, “Judge not.” Don’t judge. Those two words get ripped out of context here and are twisted, and used as justification for never taking a moral stand and never calling someone out on something. You know what I’m talking about right?
For example, if someone feels like they’re a girl even if they have boy body parts…don’t judge, just let them be who they are. I saw this funny meme the other day, “Target Announces Senior Discount For Anyone Who Self-Identifies As Age 60 Or Older.”
Jesus isn’t saying to never make judgments and have an opinion about a person or situation. I mean He’s Himself is making a moral judgment about judging right here. And the illustration He uses is actually kind of funny. He may have even been laughing.
He’s addressing hypocrisy, where you are in that moral do good mindset that we talked about earlier and you see a fault in someone and point it out when you’re guilty of the very same thing. He says it’s like pointing out a speck of dust in someone else’s eye when you have a huge ole’ log sticking out of your own.
It’d be like condemning someone for cheating on their spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend when they are secretly having affairs with their heart and body through watching pornography on a computer screen. That’s what Jesus is talking about.
And here’s the thing. We all do this. It’s so easy to see the faults in others and fail to see our own sins. That’s why in talking about the eye and the logs in our eyes Jesus says we’re blind. What’s the answer then? What are we to do?
The answer is to admit our blindness and have Jesus open our eyes. We need to be given new and fresh eyes that see people the way Jesus sees them…full of love, mercy, forgiveness and compassion…no matter what they self-identify as or find themselves caught up in.
The second story Jesus tells is about a tree. He compares people to trees and says that only a good tree can produce good fruit. In tree horticulture a tree can actually get sick, can get diseases or a bad bug that infests it and if that happens it can’t bear fruit.
But once again, Jesus throws everyone under the bus because He says a good person would produce good fruit that could be seen and heart in their words…that out of the mouth the heart speaks. And when you go there, we all fail. We all have said and say things we regret that hurt people. Regularly. That’s why the book of James in the Bible says the tongue is a restless evil full of deadly poison.
Paul Tripp in his book War of Words says this,
“It is very tempting to blame others or the situation around us, but ‘word problems’ reveal heart problems. The people and situations around us do not make us say what we say. They are only occasions for our hearts to reveal themselves in words.”
So then, what Jesus is saying is that what our words reveal is that we are all bad trees, that no one is a good person deep down. Dang. Well then, what’s the answer? What are we to do? Once again there’s nothing we can do. There’s only what Jesus can do.
What we need is have our trees ripped out and replanted in Him. We have to have Jesus change us at the deepest core of who we are in our hearts or we’ll continue to bear bad fruit. We have to have Him change our hearts and have Him plant us in the good soil of His land.
Lastly, Jesus gives one final story about a house. The analogy is that all of our lives are like a house we are building and everyone of us builds it on something.
You can’t escape it. Everyone, regardless of whether they realize it or not buy into certain ideas about the way the world works, what they want and how they are going to get it and you build the house of your life on that foundation.
But what Jesus says here is that all foundations fail causing the house to collapse and fall. This is true. For everyone, life will not work out the way you think it will and the way you want it to. It’s a fact.
If your perspective is solely based on the temporal things of this world, without a view of eternity, whatever goals you have, whatever you invest your time, heart and money into…will fail you. It’s a faulty foundation.
And we’ve all done that. We’ve all bought into ideas and desires that cannot provide what they promise. We’ve all built houses on faulty foundations. So what are we to do? We’ve got to tear down our house and have Jesus build us one that firmly stands on Him and what He provides.
For example, when Jesus was talking about being generous and giving to those in need and even those who rob you, it’s sounds ridiculous. But when Jesus and what He gives is your foundation, it makes it possible.
This is what the early Christians became known for. Hebrews 10:34 says this about them, “You joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” Having a foundation that has eternity in view makes all the difference.
Jesus is the foundation and He’s the foundation we need.1 Corinthians 3:11 says it this way, “No one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” He’s the foundation we need and we build on Him by calling Him, “Lord.”
And that’s it. Three stories all meant to teach and illustrate the same thing and to drive home the point of the sermon on the mount. The sermon on the mount is we need mercy. Jesus stories say we’re blind and need Him to open our eyes. Jesus offers that mercy. We’re bad trees that need to be uprooted and replanted. Jesus offers that mercy. And we’re houses built on flimsy foundations that need to be torn down and built on Him. Jesus offers that mercy.
Jesus makes a way for those of us who have hated others, hated God, and hated ourselves, to have our hate exchanged and changed. He makes a way for haters to become lovers. He’s a Jesus for the haters.
I started out the sermon talking about Taylor Swift’s song. She says the haters are gonna hate. Her answer, just “shake it off.” The problem we have is that no matter how hard we try we can’t shake the hate.
But there was one person who was able to. Jesus. You see, maybe you’ve been sitting there wondering why Jesus is the Lord and how He can give us God’s mercy, opening our eyes, changing our hearts and being the foundation of our lives? The reason is because Jesus was the one person who was able to actually live out the impossible standard He laid out.
Jesus was poor and in the end gave away everything He had, even His clothes as He died naked on a cross. Jesus was hungry and in His final breaths cried, “I thirst.” Jesus wept and loved His enemies.
When they cursed at Him calling Him named and speaking lies He didn’t respond. When they abused Him He sat silent in a chair and prayed for them. When they struck Him on the cheek He turned His face and let them hit His other one.
He did it all so that He could pay the price for all of His people’s failures to love. All the times we’ve fallen short of His law of love and really do deserve the judgment of God for. Jesus took on that judgment for us on the cross in our place so that we could be forgiven and given God’s mercy.
That’s why Jesus truly is the Lord. That’s why He can open our eyes, change our hearts making us good trees and that’s why we can build our lives on Him. There’s no one else and no other foundation but Him.
He did it all for us and only through Him and Him alone can we begin to truly have God’s love and have His mercy flow from our hearts to others.