“Who are you like?” (John MacDiarmid)

Notes on Sermon preached at PCF on 12 December 2010

“Who are you like?” – Luke 6 v. 27-42

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As we said last time Doctor Luke’s narrative has taken us through a period of calling of disciples, of healings and miracles and a series of confrontations with the religious establishment. We now have a section where Luke concentrates on teaching that was brought by Jesus to his disciples. “The Sermon on the Plain” has much in common with the better known “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7), but Luke seems to want us to see that it is different occasion.

Having already looked at Luke’s version of the  beautitudes under the heading “What are you like”?, we are now looking at the next section of the teaching of Jesus to His disciples where he urges them to be like their Father in heaven.

Firstly , some initial thoughts on the passage.

  1. We are called to be like Jesus – He tells us that a student is not above his teacher, and that when we are fully trained we will be like our teacher
  2. We are called to be like our heavenly Father – the whole thrust of this passage is that in our lifestyle we are to show mercy and be like our Father in heaven.
  3. Such a life is impossible without the Holy Spirit. RT Kendall refers to the Sermon on the Mount – and Luke’s equivalent that we are looking at here – as the teaching of Jesus on the Holy Spirit, in so far as it shows us what the man who is completely living under the anointing of the Holy Spirit is like.
  4. So what characteristics of God are we to imitate. Specifically, this passage tells us that we are to imitate and to pass on the mercy of God. We are all people who have received the mercy of God. Now we have to pass it on. As David Pawson says – God’s mercy is available to those who will pass it on.

So.. how do we show God’s mercy?

  1. We show God’s mercy in our personal relationships

The so called “golden rule” has been imitated by world religions, business leaders, social workers and everyone who wants to make the world a better place. Jesus is saying that his disciples will be characterised by an attitude that decides that we will treat others in the way we ourselves would like ot be treated. Easily said – but only possible in the power of the Holy Spirit.

2 .We show God’s mercy in the way we treat our enemies.

It is easy enough to love our friends and those who are kind to us. But to love our enemies – this can only come from a love that is divine. As Jesus says, the worst of sinners know how to do good to their friends. Jesus tells us to do good to those who oppose us, criticise us, harm us. It is not saying that we should turn a blind eye to crime. We know that God cares about justice and will see to it that wrongdoers get their desserts. But God expects us to reach out to our enemies again and again.

3.We show God’s mercy in the way we forgive one another

The section starting at verse 37 is about forgiveness. And it shows that we will receive the same measure of mercy that we are prepared to pass onto other people.

4.We show God’s mercy in the way we speak of one another.

Being critical and gossiping is a major flaw in many Christians’ lives.. But Jesus says that we should be concerned about our own failings – like our tendency to criticise – and deal with it before we point out others’ weaknesses.

And finally – how can we receive God’s mercy?

  1. God’s mercy is offered to us freely in salvation. We are the beneficiaries of God’s undeserved mercy and favour
  2. God’s mercy is offered to us in rewards. Yes – there are rewards here and now and in eternity that God offers to those who serve Him
  3. And most imporantly, God’s mercy is offered to those who would pass it on. The whole of the passage reinforces this point. Show mercy and you will shown mercy, forgive and you will be forgiven, give and you will receive. It is always in our interests to be channels of God’s mercy.

John MacDiarmid

December 2010

Posted Under: Talks

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