Why did Luke write Luke’s Gospel? It is because there are things which happen to make us totter. But there are things which have happened to keep us from tottering over. And what must be done with these things which have happened? Preach. Preach these things. Since there are things which have happened to keep us from tottering over and these things must be preached, then what is preaching?
The word itself, preach, was originally associated with politics, like campaign is associated with politics. Preaching was the function of a herald (a word for preacher) of the king. A king would send his herald to deliver his message to his people. So the herald would arrive in the town square of a city and cry out (a synonym for preach) the king’s message. And the herald would do so in a serious and formal and authoritative voice: Hear ye! Hear ye! – this was the introduction. And to ignore the herald’s message was in effect to ignore the king and the king’s authority. The herald had to handle the king’s message with care and clarity and accuracy. Imagine if the herald misspoke or misunderstood the king’s message, what then?
Listen to 2 Timothy 4:6. “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.” Notice the word for. This verse is the reason for the previous verses, but what does this sound like? Does it sound desperate, in a sense? Does it sound like time is short? These are the words of the Apostle Paul and for him time was short. His departure was his death. His days were numbered. And because his days were numbered he says 2 Timothy 4:1-5 to Timothy. Notice how it begins. “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus…” This wording seems serious, as if Paul has weighed carefully what he is about to say and will say to Timothy in the hearing of God himself. And what is the charge? Listen to verse two. “Preach.” And Paul then specifies what to preach. “Preach the word.” Preach the Bible and preach all of it. The importance of preaching rests in its content, not in its function. Our preaching is not the reason the Word works. The Word is the reason our preaching works. There are things which have happened to keep us from tottering over. These things must be preached. Preaching, then, preaching these things, is what keeps us from tottering over.
Fulfill Your Ministry for Their Ministry
Now, quickly, pay attention to what Paul says at the very end of verse five. “…fulfill your ministry.” This is just another way of saying, preach the Bible. These three words, fulfill your ministry, is something Paul demanded of just one other person. His name was Archippus (Colossians 4:17). And considering what Paul says here, it seems that Archippus was to preach the Bible. Do not give up preaching the Bible. However, notice the word ministry. We get the word deacon from this word. Ministry, or to deacon, means to serve, but to serve in such a way as to meet the needs of others. The ministry of a pastor is to meet the needs of others by preaching the Bible. But who are these others?
In another letter, the letter to the Ephesians, Paul tells a whole church not just an individual, what is to be expected of a pastor. He says there, too, that a pastor is to meet the needs of others by preaching the Bible. But who are these others? The pastor is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12a). Equip is a meeting needs word! It means to mend, to repair, to renew or to re-supply. It is to mend, to repair, to renew or to re-supply the saints. The saints are the others! But catch this; the word equip was a fishing word. It was used of fishing vessels; to mend, to repair, to renew or to re-supply a fishing vessel. Is that not interesting? Do you know what a disciple is? It is a person who is a fisher of people, a gatherer of people (cf. Luke 5:10). But keep looking at Ephesians 4:12. A pastor is to meet the needs of the saints by preaching Bible. Why? So that the saints get mended, repaired, renewed, re-supplied to go do ministry. A pastor is to fulfill his ministry for your ministry. And guess what? This word ministry means to serve, but to serve in such a way as to meet the needs of others. When it comes to your ministry, who are these others?
A Preacher You Must Listen To
Luke 6:20-49 is a sermon and is probably the best known teaching of Jesus. And Luke 6:27-36 is a part of the middle portion of that sermon. So Jesus is preaching this sermon and is primarily addressing his disciples. There are others there, a great multitude of others from all over the place. But Jesus is primarily addressing his disciples (cf. Luke 6:20). Why is that? A preacher is to meet the needs of disciples by preaching the Bible so that the disciples get mended, repaired, renewed, re-supplied to meet the needs of others. And who are those others?
A disciple is someone who is learning from Jesus. A disciple, too, is someone who weighs everything in comparison to Jesus. A disciple, too, is someone who embraces those who are unwanted. A disciple, too, is someone who has abandoned the old life with its old ways for new life with Jesus and his ways. A disciple, too, is someone who delights in the finished work of God, the cross, and so then can delight in God. A disciple, too, is someone whose happiness remains large whether wealthy or not; healthy or not; weeping or not; friendless or not; looked down upon or not. And so Jesus is preaching this sermon to his disciples. I read this week that there are three kinds of preachers: those you can listen to; those you cannot listen to; and those you must listen to. Listen to how the middle portion of this sermon begins. “But I say to you who hear” (Luke 6:27). Some translations have the word listen. It is actually a present active participle, meaning it is a verb with an -ing on the end. It is a listening that is happening right now. It is almost as if to say, “Now for those of you still listening, you must listen to this.”
Luke 6:27-36 is about meeting the needs of others. And it answers the question, who are these others? But it also answers how to meet the needs of others. Jesus gives eleven ways to meet the needs of others. And he gives them as commands: Love. Do good. Bless. Pray (and keep loving, keep doing good, keep blessing and keep praying no matter how it is received – see Luke 6:29). Give (and keep giving). Do as to others as you would have them do to you. Love (love is mentioned quite a bit in this portion; 6 times). Do Good. Give. Expect nothing in return. Be merciful.
But Who Are These Others?
So, it is pretty straight forward how to go about meeting the needs of others. But who are these others? Jesus has a very specific person in view. These others are your enemies. These others are those who hate you, really hate you. These others are those who curse you, meaning, these others wish or desire that really bad things happen to you. These others mistreat you. The natural response to meeting their needs is, “No. No way. This is impossible. I cannot do this. I will not do this. How could I even want to do this?” I think that is part of Jesus’ point. It is not natural to do this or to want to do this, to meet their needs. So, why must we do it? Are there any exceptions? The answer to that last question is, no.
I wondered, though, who is my enemy? I do not think I have an enemy. Facebook says that I have 264 friends and nothing about enemies. Who hates me? I do not think anyone hates me. I cannot think of a reason that anyone would hate me. Who curses me, besides the maniacs on the highway? I do not think there is anyone who wishes really bad things to happen to me. Who is mistreating me? I do not feel mistreated. Oh, I forgot to mention, each of these verbs are present active participles, meaning these are actions happening to you right now. So who are these others? Let’s just ask one simple question. Who is my enemy?
Here is the key. See the word but at the beginning of this middle portion. “But I say to you who are listening…” It is a connecting word and why Jesus is addressing those still listening, that they must listen. This word but connects to what he just said, or something he just said which is Luke 6:22. Who is my enemy? Who would hate me? Who would curse me? Who would mistreat me? It is all on account of Jesus. Your happiness remains large (blessed) even “when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man.” Then in this middle portion Jesus turns it around and demands, meet their needs.
Who are these enemies? Listen to Romans 5:8-10. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” And listen to Philippians 3:18-19. “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” Who are these enemies? Yes, these enemies are sinners. Yes, these enemies are unbelievers. Yes, these enemies are the lost. But I was once this enemy.
Be Merciful, Even as Your Father is Merciful
Look at that first demand because it explains it all. Love your enemies. The word love does not mean romantic love or plain old love like loving pizza. It is not even friendship love. The Bible kind of goes out of the way to not define this love. It is the Greek word agapé. But we do define it. We define it as a deliberate love, a love by choice. “I will love this person because, by God’s grace, I choose to love this person.” We define it, too, as a sacrificial love. And these definitions are good and correct, but the Bible, again, really does not go out of its way to define it for us. Instead, the Bible says this: See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God (1 John 3:1a). It is a love to see or a love that is shown. Listen to 1 John 4:9. “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” It is a visible love. And it is a visible love that is only known by looking at God at the cross. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). And happening at the cross, Jesus was loving those who put him there. He died not so much because of them, but for them and in their place.
And so, at this point when Jesus first said these words, love your enemies, it must have been so difficult to understand or comprehend. But it is the gospel. The cross makes it clearer. This is what was done for me. And it is a love that has been given to me. How?
Notice what Jesus says in Luke 6:35. In loving like this, doing good like this, giving like this and expecting nothing in return, “you will be sons of the Most High.” In other words, you will be what you are (1 John 3:1). And this is your reward. How often have you heard that you look, sound, act like just like your dad or mom? Or, “that is something your dad or mom would say or do.” Well, that is this! Loving and doing good and giving and expecting nothing in return is what our Father does! The reward is two-fold. Meeting the needs of others in this way is showing who I am, who I belong to. God is my Father. But the other part of the reward is that this is how he saved me. While I was still a sinner, an enemy, God loved me and gave his Son for me.
It is saying to disciples how much we need the gospel. It is because the gospel reveals the affection of God. And my affection for others drives me to meet their needs because of God’s affection for me which was his motive to meet my need – the affection of the Father for me affects my affections for others. And my Father is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Jonah knew this and it is why he did not want to go to Nineveh (Jonah 4:2). He knew that God’s love and loving like this would meet the needs of his enemies. And so, Jesus ends with this last command. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
 H. B. Charles, Jr., On Preaching, page 16.
 H. B. Charles, Jr. On Preaching, page 10