Jesus makes one of the most shocking claims of His day in these verses! The Jewish people expected a Messiah who would come and free them from the persecution of the Romans. However, Jesus makes the bold statement to love those very enemies and pray for those who are actively persecuting them. How can this be? How could we possibly love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us?
When we say the word enemy, I think we often think of an enemy such as a villain depicted in the movies. However, the word enemy is derived from the Latin word inimicus, which simply means not a friend. Of course this does not mean that every person we are not friends with is an enemy, but rather someone who is not a friend and who is in direct opposition to us. I had an inimicus at one point who treated me very poorly. During this time, they experienced true hardship. The world’s voice would have told me to celebrate their hardship, but God’s Word told me to love them and pray for them. Instead of celebrating, I donated to their gofundme page and followed up with a prayer.
The Bible teaches that before we came to faith in Christ WE were actually God’s enemies! Sin is an enemy of God (See Galatians 5:17), and while we were still sinners Christ died for us (Check out Romans 5:8). When we love our enemies, when we pray for those who persecute us, we are identifying ourselves with the person of Jesus. Jesus loved us—who were once God’s enemies—by going to the cross and laying down His life so we can live eternally with God. When we do the same, laying down our own life in different ways for our enemies, we are being an example for the world to see the love of God!
Pray today for those who do not know Christ. Pray they would be met by God’s love, repent, and believe in Jesus!