In St. Luke's Gospel (excerpts from Chapters 6 and 7), Jesus' sermon on the mount is retold in slightly a different way. Let's listen:
“But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.But 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 is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful."
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
"Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye."
In St. John's Gospel (8:2-11), an interesting thing happens and Jesus uses it as a teachable moment: Early in the morning Jesus came again to the temple; all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.The Scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midstthey said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?”This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus looked up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.” What was Jesus writing on the ground? Some biblical commentators believe he was writing the sins of the Scribes and the Pharisees as each of them spoke such as, "Usurer, Fornicator, Adulterer, Murderer, Thief, Blasphemer, Idolator, Irreverent Son, False Witness...." One commentator quoted Jeremiah 17:13, "All those who forsake thee shall be put to shame; those who turn away from thee shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the Lord." Maybe Jesus was fulfilling this prophecy? We don't know for sure, but I'd like to believe that after all the commotion had died down and the woman's accusers had left he wrote this word on the ground: "Forgiven!"
I'm beginning a new blog series on the power of forgiveness. I think forgiveness more than any other thing is absolutely vital for success in all aspects of our lives. Being the shy and sensitive type, I've struggled with anger and resentment throughout my life. In fact, my inability to forgive and forget almost destroyed me once had it not been for God's grace in my life.
Jesus on Forgiveness
We all see the horrible affects anger and resentment has on people's lives. When we watch the evening news we see all manner of anger, hate, rage, murder, mayhem, violence, and war. In Jesus' sermon on the mount, he talked about anger, resentment, and how to overcome it (excerpts from Matthew 5 and 6):
"You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brothershall be liable to judgment; whoever insultshis brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny."
"You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you."
"You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
"And when you pray, pray then like this:
Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we also have forgiven those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses."