Friends, today, in the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord commands us to love our enemies.
What is the test of love? Jesus couldn’t be clearer in the discourse he delivers the night before he died. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” If love is willing the good of the other as other, this has to be the fullest expression, the final word, of love.
There is another way to test love: the love of enemies, those who cannot or will not pay you back. This also takes place in the cross of Jesus. Jews, Romans, Pharisees, Sadducees, his own disciples—everyone betrays him, runs from him, denies him, actively arranges for his death. And yet these are the very people that he loves, the very people for whom he gives his life.
The final test is what Jesus does when he returns from the dead. To the very people that contributed to his demise he says, “Shalom.” This is how we are loved; this is how we must love. Everything else is commentary.
Reflect: Name an enemy or someone you intensely dislike. What is it about them that bothers you? How do these feelings shed light on your own weaknesses?