I am serious.

Jesus said to his disciples: “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

Last week, we entered into the Sermon on the Plain. We learned that this sermon was likely repeated by Jesus on many occasions – on the mount, in the dessert, in the city, by the shore. This sermon wasn’t repeated because it was necessarily popular or because Jesus didn’t have anything else to say, but because it was consistent with Who God is. Jesus was consistent in His revelation, in His message, and in His call to His disciples to live a certain way.

Last week’s message from the plain was centered on blessings and curses. To live consistently in Jesus, we must be prepared to live poor, weeping, and hungry if it is necessary in witness to Him. We must be prepared to be hated, excluded, insulted and denounced if necessary, to put Him before all else. The reward, the blessing, is life eternal. To do otherwise brings curse.

Today, we return to the plain. Jesus continues to exhort His disciples to live consistently in God, with God, and as living images of God daily. This part of the sermon does not so much focus on what we must bear to be Jesus’ disciples. but more on how we must respond to things that may happen to us. In examples of what disciples might experience, it is about our reaction.

Our key consistent reaction to what we may face is to be mercy, non-judgmentalism, and sacrificial generosity.

Jesus remains serious in His instruction to us. As His disciples, we are to live a certain way and react in a certain way.

How we deal with difficult situations, events, people, confrontations, and daily living speaks volumes about our discipleship. We are and will be challenged. When we encounter people who may be difficult or different, does that become a block to our discipleship or an opportunity for witness? I have a neighbor who “borrowed” my best ladder, about six years ago. It has become more ‘best’ over the years. I’ve never asked for it back. It is small, and inwardly it has strengthened my discipleship because I am not using this for judging or bitterness. The rewards for being that kind of disciple are rich – good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing


The challenge.
The reaction.

So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them. When He disembarked and saw the vast crowd, His heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.

The Apostles had gone out as directed by Jesus. In faithfulness to Him they preached the gospel and healed the sick. They had returned to Jesus to report all that they had done. They filled Jesus in. Certainly they were both excited and exhausted. As a good spiritual leader would do to this very day, Jesus invites them to come away to a quiet place where they can pray and rest. Here’s where Jesus experiences the full brunt of His humanity. He could not get away. People kept coming in need of His teaching and healing. They were hungry for God’s word, something the leaders of the day could not provide. Jesus and His Apostles were so engaged that they couldn’t even eat.

Finally, there was opportunity – they could get to their boat and could head off to a quiet, deserted, peaceful place. Those moments of prayer and rest were at hand. The best laid plans… they arrive and waiting for them is an even larger throng of people.

We know Jesus’ reaction: His heart was moved with pity for them… and He began to teach them many things. We might wonder if the Apostles reacted in the same way? We know what it is like; can place ourselves in the situation. They were expecting alone time with Jesus – rest and prayer. We can easily understand their frustration, they might even have been angry.

Jesus’ actions are our first challenge. How do we react when confronted by the unexpected, when our personal wants, desires, and expectations are frustrated, when God’s way counters against what we want? Do we follow Him?

This is a very pertinent question in today’s world. We are called to act as Jesus would act. His actions and words, God’s way of life naturally fits with proper human desires. Seeing a mass of people in need we naturally want to help – at least deep inside. Yet selfishness gets in the way. Our battle is to overcome personal selfishness, having things our way, and in the process conforming ourselves to His way.

It comes down to how we react to challenge. Our Facebook friends tell us – this is the way the world should be. Our colleagues at work say – don’t bother. Politicians demonize anyone who disagrees. Our gut check is Jesus’ way as given us by Scripture, Church teaching, and Tradition. Acting in accord with Him we meet the challenge.