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Luke 6:27-38

The gospel text from Luke continues what is often called “The Sermon on the Plain.” Although the implication is much clearer in Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, this sermon in Luke is Jesus’ rearticulation of the Law or Torah. Rather than recapitulating the receiving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai, in Luke, Jesus seems to be bringing the invitation to the Way of God down into the plain with the common people. It is important when we think of Torah, that we do not think of it as the rules God gave Israel to meet divine approval. In the imagination of Israel, the Torah is not the way to salvation, the Torah is salvation. In other words, as the people attempted to learn and to live in the pattern of the Law, they were embodying a way of life intended to reverse the brokenness caused by sin and rebellion. If the people would live in the way of Torah, they would become a healing force in the world, and a light of hope and restoration to the nations.

It is important to read Jesus’ rearticulation of the Law in that way. The kind of life he is articulating for disciples is not a way to earn God’s approval so much as it is a way to participate in God’s healing of the world.

One way to read and interpret a scriptural text is to ask three questions of it: What is the problem? What is the solution? And how do we live in the light of that solution?

In this section of the Sermon on the Plain several problems are addressed. The forms of human sin and brokenness named by Jesus is an almost exhaustive list of the things that fragment and divide the world. Here is the list:

  1. Animosity and Enmity (6:27a): There are well over 100 references in the Bible to those who are given the title “enemy.” The scripture recognizes not only that there are people whom we might name as an enemy, but it also acknowledges that there will be people who consider us to be their enemies as well.

  2. Hatred and Anger (6:27b): From the second generation of Genesis on there is a recognition that humankind is often filled with feelings of loathing and malice for others we consider different, irritating, or detrimental to one’s well-being.

  3. Cursing and Damaging (6:28a): In an atmosphere of enmity and anger there will be times when people will attempt to cause evil consequences upon the lives of others. The term “cursing” includes the idea that a people would believe that their enemies deserve divine judgment and that they might even hope or pray that divine destruction would come upon them.

  4. Abusing and Exploiting (6:28b): Wherever there are divisions of power, abuse will be a constant temptation for those in a position of dominance. It will often be the case that those with power wil