Today’s Reading: Luke 6
I know there is a lot of folklore that goes with the masterpiece of the Lord’s Supper painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. Whether this is true or not, I love this story I read recently about the painting.
When Leonardo Da Vinci was working on this famous Last Supper painting, he became angry with one of his assistants, berating the man without mercy. After banishing his assistant from his studio, he went back to work. As an act of revenge, he used the person’s face who had offended him for the face of Judas.
He continued his work until he tried to paint the face of Jesus, and he couldn’t do it. No matter how hard he tried, he was unable to paint Christ’s. So he stopped painting, went to his assistant and asked his forgiveness. Only when the man forgave him and they reconciled was Da Vinci able to return to the table of the Last Supper and paint Jesus.
When Leonardo showed mercy and pardon to his assistant, Jesus became a lot clearer. This is where we land in today’s reading. Jesus becomes clearer to us and the world around us based on how we respond to people who hurt us or take advantage of us. In fact, when we read this chapter, we recognize that it’s about Christian retaliation.
Listen to Jesus’ words from Luke’s Sermon on the Mount:
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 mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. (Luke 6:27-31)
Here is the Christian retaliation: Do good to those who hate you. Pray for those who mistreat you. Notice I didn’t say to post about it on social media. We are to pray, not post.
If a person hits you on one side, offer the other side. If they steal, give them something else they didn’t ask for. Give to everyone who asks of you and don’t demand back.
This seems unnatural to do—and it is. It’s supernatural. This is where the face of Jesus shows up clearer for you, on you, and for others.
A number of years ago, Dr. David H. Fink, a psychiatrist for the veterans’ administration, wrote a book titled, Release from Nervous Tension. In his book, he outlined his research into the causes of mental and emotional disturbances in people’s lives.
From more than ten thousand case studies, he discovered a common trait among all his patients who suffered from severe tension. They were habitual fault-finders, constant critics of people and things around them. Those who were free from tension and anxiety were the least critical. His conclusions were that the habit of fault-finding is a prelude or mark of the nervous, or the mentally unbalanced. Those who wish to retain good emotional and mental health should learn to free themselves from a negative and critical attitude.
Thank you, Dr. Fink, but Jesus already mapped this out for us two thousand years earlier in His Sermon on the Mount. Instead of Jesus coming from a case-study standpoint, He came from the Creator standpoint. He already knew what was best for the people He created. So Jesus said, “Here’s how you respond to the craziness of people’s actions and reactions . . . instead of being critical and negative, do the supernatural.”
And here is the result: when we do that, we get what we give and we will get more of it.
If we show love, we will get a lot more back.
If we show mercy, we will get it overflowing back.
If we show pardon, we will be forgiven many times over.
Jesus was telling us to let someone off the hook today. You may “have them” and have a screenshot of a text they sent, for example. You have a smoking gun. But how about showing mercy and pardoning them? Your goal every day is not to convict and find evidence on how bad people are to you. Instead, Jesus wants your goal to be to pardon when you have the evidence to convict.
Here are the rest of Jesus’ words to those who retaliate this way:
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 Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. (Luke 6:35)
Did you catch that? Your reward will be great when you retaliate God’s way. What kind of reward was Jesus referring to? He tells us in verse 38:
Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.
I have heard this verse in regards to money. If this is how you’ve interpreted this verse, I hate to break this to you, but there are no dollar signs around this verse. Instead read the prior ten verses to see what verse 38 means:
• It has to do with what you give to people who hurt you
• It’s a new level of relating to people
• It’s Christian retaliation
Over the years, leaders have preached that the “give” in verse 38 is money, but not according to Jesus. There are enough verses on money in the Bible that we don’t need to make square pieces fit into round holes. Jesus is not talking about giving money but giving pardon and mercy to people.
In New Testament times, men wore their outer garment in such a way as to have a pocket on the front, which was used for holding wheat that had been purchased. They would buy a pocket full of wheat and pour it into the pocket and press and shake it down so as much as possible would fit in. If the purchaser received so much wheat that even after doing all that pressing and shaking it still overflowed outside of his garment, he was considered to be especially blessed.
Jesus was saying that when you show mercy, pardon, love, and generosity to those who deserve the opposite, you are about to get a whole bunch of mercy, pardon, love, and generosity coming your way.
Retaliate the right way—the Jesus way—and you’ll find the rewards are amazing.
I could have saved Dr. Fink the time and government money he spent in studying those ten thousand cases and just had him study the Sermon on the Mount in Luke 6.