Stories with Luke Week 9:

"Manifesto of Mercy"

Pastor Terry Inman

05-07-17

 

After a break for our 40 days of Mercy and last week’s word on Increase, I am enthusiastic about getting back to our Stories with Luke series. In fact it’s a great follow-up to our 40 days of Mercy.

In (Luke 6.36 NIV) Jesus says, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

 

Jesus’s essential teachings are captured in this chapter.

Let’s label this talk, Manifesto of Mercy. A manifesto is a platform, position, or philosophy. Luke’s shorter edition of the Sermon on the Mount is a condensed version of Jesus teaching on Kingdom values.

 

It begins with an abridged version of the beatitudes (blessings) found in Matthew’s gospel and ends with a parable (allegory) about wise builders.

 

My favorite spot in Israel is where Jesus laid out his kingdom agenda, the mount of beatitudes. He stood at the bottom of a hillside that provided a natural amphitheater. From the top we could hear people clear down the mountainside because the water helped amplify sound.

 

Luke says, “He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coast of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.” (Luke 6.17-19 NIV)

 

Time magazine named this spot of the ten most beautiful locations in the world. According to Matthew this is where Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Here the people who experienced healing and freedom were ready to listen to truth!

 

Luke mentions four of Mathew’s eight beatitudes. A, beatitude is a benefit of the blessed. It’s like, saying this is real success! Meek means humble. Our culture says the talented, wealthy and powerful are blessed.

 

Luke mentions four spiritual blessings—Poverty, hunger, sorrow and exclusion—not exactly things we want to be blessed with!  

 

Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.

Luke 6.20-22 (NIV)

 

How is poverty a blessing? Poverty is not a blessing, receiving the Kingdom is! Poverty makes it easier to be totally dependent on God. Material wealth make us more comfortable but not really more joyful!

 

The recipients of spiritual wealth are really the blessed. Jesus announced, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.” Luke 4.18 (NLT). It can be easier for the economically deprived to recognize their need for God. Matthew says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Matt. 5.3 (NIV)

 

Poverty is not necessarily a virtue and wealth is not inherently bad—unless self-reliance keeps us from recognizing our need for God.

We are blessed when we acknowledge our desperate need for God!

 

Poverty leads to hunger. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Again hunger is not a blessing spiritual satisfaction is. If we recognize our spiritual poverty we will be spiritually hungry. Matthew expands this blessing. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matt. 5.6 (NIV)

 

What to we hunger for? This may very well be the occasion Jesus taught all day and then fed the multitudes to make the point. There is something more satisfying than your next meal or any other emotional appetite.

 

They wanted to make Jesus their King so they would have plenty to eat. He said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” John 6.51 (NLT)

 

Next Jesus says, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” The blessing is not sorrow, pain, or loss, its spiritual joy. The key to this is the word “now”.

If your poor, hungry and hurting “now”. You can be enriched, nourished and joyful “now” and forever in Jesus Christ!

 

Followers of Christ then and now are also subject to exclusion, insult and rejection. Jesus said, "If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.” John 15.18 (NLT)
The blessing is not in harassment it’s our spiritual reward!

Luke continues “laughter” into this blessing. “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets. Luke 6.22-23 (NIV)

 

The fear of what people think baskets our light more than anything else. Peter had this fear problem until he was empowered by the Holy Spirit.

He wrote: “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” 1Pet. 4.14 (NIV)

 

The “woes” (miseries) Luke mentions are the opposite of the blessings. “Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.” Luke 6.24 -26 (NIV)   

 

It’s not wrong to be wealthy, well fed, happy or well thought of. But when temporal material comforts and pleasures are more important to us than spiritual success we are really bankrupt now and face a hopeless future.

 

Obviously not everyone embraces Kingdom values. This has never been more evident in my lifetime than in our present anti-Christ culture. So if we really embrace these values how are we to relate to our adversaries?

 

We sure don’t engage in the current vitriolic ranting on social media. Again Jesus is talking to a group of people totally marginalized and oppressed by religious and governmental leaders. He basically says what every religion teaches, “treat people the way you want to be treated”.

 

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.  
Luke 6.27-31(NIV)

 

This is mercy. Don’t get back--love back. Do good to them. Blessing trumps cursing! While Jesus was hanging on the cross his crucifiers were flipping a coin over his clothing. He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Luke 23.34 (NIV)

 

People lie, steal and abuse because they are victims of sin and Satan. We can expect sinners to be sinners. Jesus suffered for them. It’s an honor to suffer on behalf of Christ. Keep loving—doing good—blessing and praying!

 

It’s easy to love nice people. But Jesus says, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. Luke 6.32-34 (NIV)

 

It’s normal for kindness to be returned. We expect loans to be repaid. But Jesus suggests we lay down our expectations and love radically. God will reward us! That’s mercy!

 

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Luke 6.35-36 (NIV)

 

This is our heritage. This is how the Fathers children act! It’s one thing to love and serve enemies but mercy also includes withholding judgment.   

 

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you…

A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6.37-38 (NIV)

 

Normally you hear this verse quoted around offering time and it’s true we are blessed when we give. But this is about giving mercy, and forgiveness.

It is a restatement of the golden rule. “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” We get what we give. So give mercy and forgiveness!

 

Jesus adds some humor about our blindness to our own issues.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Luke 6.41-42 (NIV)

 

We only see our faults in other people. Jesus challenged the religious leaders accusing of an adulteress; “if you’re sinless throw stones” The charges were dropped along with their rocks.

 

This Manifesto of Mercy ends with two parables planting and building. These is an illustrations about putting Jesus’ teachings into practice.

 

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6.43-45 (NIV)

 

If we are really born into God’s family tree we will have his heart and bear the same fruit. To make Jesus our Lord (master) is to live by his words!

 

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.

But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” Luke 6.46 -49 (NIV)

Jesus’ Manifesto of Mercy is not just about principles its about practices!

Blessed people may be poor, hungry, weeping and excluded but they value spiritual wealth, satisfaction, joy, and the Kingdom rewards!