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Outrageous, Miraculous Love

Love others with extraordinary, genuine, God-given love, knowing God first loved you.


In the fall of 2001, I was a senior in college. Because of where my college was located, I was an hour and a half away from my hometown in upstate NY, and an hour and a half outside of NYC. I still vividly remember coming back from an 8:00am class to the news that the World Trade Center in NYC had been hit by two planes. We were all stunned, gathered around TVs, watching the news roll in as people tried to figure out what was going on.

As a Christian college we had chapel at 10:00am and a Bible professor was slated to speak. What would you say? What would you preach on? This person chose Romans 12, specifically dealing with not taking vengeance (12:19-21).

Of all texts, why that? Perhaps because he knew the hearts especially of angry young people that day and wanted to convey to them the way of Jesus. Perhaps he sensed this could be a defining moment in our culture, where stereotypes and distrust and prejudice and lack of love would begin to reign.

This is one example of many in how we are constantly being called back to the main thing of Christianity, namely, to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. This is especially true in a time where persecution of Christians around the world continues with vehemence (see: persecution.org).

In Luke 6:27-36 the focus is on the latter, and what a reminder of the need we have for God to work in our lives that we might love as he calls us to. We ought to love others with extraordinary, genuine, God-given love, knowing God first loved you.

This text is in the midst of Luke’s depiction of Jesus and his mission on earth (Luke 1-9). From Luke 6:20-49 Jesus is teaching a great multitude about a host of issues that pertain to living faithfully as a disciple of Jesus. Much of the content overlaps with what we know as the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7).

(Read Luke 6:27-36)

Embrace the Call to Love (6:27-31)

Jesus begins this section with “but,” contrasting his points here with the previous section regarding those who are under his “woes” (6:24-26). Jesus has already told us that as his disciples we can expect persecution (6:22-23). We are not going to be received by the world because we are different than the world, we should not be surprised by this. If Jesus was treated harshly and rejected, we can expect the same kind of treatment (John 15:19). Consider these texts:

You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved (Matt. 10:22).

Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you (John 15:20).

When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:21-22).

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12).

In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart – I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

But even with that reality before us Jesus calls us to love. He says it in nine different ways. First with four exhortations: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you (think Stephen in Acts 7), and pray for those who abuse you.

Then with four illustrations:

Turn the other cheek - A slap on the cheek was not a fist fight, but was intended as an insult. The call is for dignity in the midst of persecution and suffering, which is not a call to not care for self and family or to be wise (cf. Isa. 50:6).

Do not withhold from those who take - Be more concerned for people than property.

Give to those who beg

Do not demand people give back goods they took from you

And then Jesus gives us a final summary: do unto others as you would have done to you.

These may be extreme conditions within which such realities take place, but Jesus is calling us to a different way as we live out our discipleship and people oppose our following of Jesus. We may feel the weight of these commands and the injustice they contain. We must remind ourselves that Jesus is not commanding his followers to do what feels easiest, but to act in a certain way, by his grace and the power of the Spirit.

We ought to remember that these are the kinds of things that set us apart as Christians. We are called to love our neighbor as ourselves, even when that neighbor can’t stand us (Luke 10:25-37).

A friend of mine went a Saturday a month to a local abortion clinic with a group of fellow Christians. They had the goal of encouraging young women to consider not getting an abortion, sharing the gospel with them, and providing resources for their ongoing care. This work has been met with hostile opposition. My friend has had punches thrown at him, he has been cussed out, pushed aside, and been told by people there that they wish he had never been born. He does not retaliate. And they keep going, and they keep loving. The fruit is meager, but God has done work, and all the while they are seeking to love those who despise them. This is hard, rewarding work that requires the grace of God every moment.

We must hold to our convictions while communicating loving to a hostile world. As 1 Peter 3:15 says, always be ready to give a defense for the hope that is in you, but do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience. This text assumes that if we are to love, do good, and bless our enemies that we are in relational contact with the world and they know where we stand as Christians. Pray for opportunity, take those opportunities, expect to be misunderstood, mistreated, and maligned, and rejoice knowing your reward is with God (Luke 6:22-23) and God may use you to change hearts through the gospel.

Understand the Difference of Christian Love (6:32-35a)

Again, this kind of love is different and difficult to express, but it is our call as Christians. It’s what makes us distinct.

Notice Jesus’ logic in these verses. Jesus gives three examples with the exact same structure. The examples include loving, doing good, and lending. The logic is always the same: if you do one of these things to those who reciprocate (friends or at least polite people), what good is that? Sinners (unsaved people) do that. What sets us apart as followers of Jesus is loving and doing good and lending to those who will not reciprocate and will likely treat you poorly.

I can think of so many examples of friends who have shown love to me, and so can you. We are just wired to expect kindness in return when we extend kindness. We instruct our kids to say please and thank you. When we invite someone over for dinner, we assume they will return with an invitation to their place for dinner at some point. As a cyclist I say “On your left” when I am about to pass and expect others to do the same.

But here, not only does Jesus say don’t expect friends to reciprocate when you show love to them. He is saying love your enemies and don’t expect anything in return. If you do expect anything, expect animosity and mistreatment. And keep on loving and doing good.

Let me ask, do we even love each other as Christians as God is calling us to? Or are there factions, divisions, gossip, and partiality among us? Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

Let’s love each other well. Let’s work together to love those who would not love us, expecting nothing in return. This all sounds impossible and unmotivating, and that is why Jesus includes these final verses.

Imitate the Father’s Love (6:35b-36)

We love others who despise us as disciples of Jesus. We do not expect worldly acclaim, but we rejoice in that God promises to reward those who engage in such extraordinary, grace-driven love. Indeed, he will call us inheritors. We will receive an inheritance (1 Pet. 1:3-9), a reward of eternal life with the triune God, the greatest, most satisfying reality in all the universe. We look to this reward as motivation, and we also look to God himself.

God rewards us and calls us inheritors because he is kind and merciful to the ungrateful and evil. We love because he first loved us. God loves his enemies (Rom. 5:6-8; Eph. 2:1-10).

I read an article that speaks to the uniqueness of Christian love. It talks about how Christians are called to love, even when persecuted. We could cite many incidents of terror perpetrated on churches and Christians. The author states,

It’s time for Christians to ask whether we’re willing to take Jesus at his word and love our enemy. How can we love such people? How could we love a person who’s so filled with hate, who sought to inspire hatred in others, who has committed such evil and caused so much pain? Only by remembering that while we were still sinners—while we were God’s enemies—Christ died for us. Will we let such an evil individual be to us as the Ninevites were to Jonah? Or will we take the chance to reflect deeply on the gospel of God’s grace, allowing it to drive us to prayer for such a one and his salvation? The hardness of his heart must be unimaginable—but we believe in a God who brings life from death and can break even the hardest hearts (Jer. 23:29).

We believe this because God did it in us. Sin is egregious to God. Period. Yes, certainly some sin has far more dire consequences, but the wages of any sin is death. And God rescued rebel enemies and loved them.

Look at Ephesians 3:14-21. As we comprehend his love and are empowered by the Spirit, we can love as he calls us to. How we need more of the Spirit in our lives and a glimpse of the love of Christ. Pray for this, moment by moment, and trust God to supply you with all you need as you go and love in this extraordinary way.


Love others with extraordinary, genuine, God-given love, knowing God first loved you. In your jobs, schools, homes, in recreation, wherever you go. Whether we are in a context where it is easy or difficult to live as a Christian, love as Jesus loves, by his grace and the Spirit.

Jeremy Kimble is Assistant Professor of Theology at Cedarville University and the author of '40 Questions About Church Membership and Discipline' (Kregel, 2017).

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