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Living the Life God Intended – Talk 12 – Hated, Love & Maturity

Jesus’ teaching on Living The Life God Intended, in regard to hatred, love and maturity, comes from Matt 5:43-48 (read it!) To listen to the audio teaching click on

Jesus essentially says, “It’s not about loving your neighbour and then hating your enemy, but about loving your enemy. And in so doing, being perfect as your Father in heaven.” 

Jesus completes the six ethical commands with the capstone of love of enemy as children who live the complete character of their heavenly Father. Thus v.48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect”, is the summary conclusion of all six ‘antitheses’ that Jesus taught from Matt 5:21-47. More of this just now.

We must first discuss Jesus’ quote of the great commandment to love your neighbour (Lev 19:18). Nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures does it say what Jesus quotes, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ The OT does not command us to “hate your enemy.” What then is Jesus quoting? From where does he get this? What is he referring to?

He’s referring to the oral tradition of certain groups in Israel at the time. The School of Rabbi Shammai – a contemporary of Jesus – taught that once you had obeyed Torah by loving your neighbour you were free to hate your enemy. Zealots who fought for Israel’s liberation agreed, teaching a holy war theology of killing the enemy in God’s name. They saw their enemies as God’s enemies, and vice versa – identified as the Romans, pagans, and ‘backslidden’ non-Torah-keeping-Jews. One could hate these people because they are judged and condemned by God. The Essenes in the Qumran sect had a similar teaching of loving the children of light (those in their community) and hating the children of darkness (those outside their community). Thus Jesus was quoting a known oral tradition in his day that legitimized hating one’s enemy.

The full text from Lev 19:18 says, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.” The oral tradition that Jesus refers to understood the phrase “among your (own) people” to mean within God’s people, the covenant community. Once you’ve loved your own kind you can hate ‘the other’ – perceived as ‘the enemy’? Thus they joined the two and made one new revised version, “love your neighbour and hate your enemy.”

In so doing they conveniently overlooked the context, as in Lev 19:33-34, “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” Here Moses actually repeats word for word Lev 19:18, “love them (your neighbour… the foreigner) as yourself, for I am the Lord!” The Lord says your neighbour is BOTH your own kind AND the foreigner/stranger.

Due to the discipline of scripture memorisation, when rabbis quoted a text they had in mind the whole context. We see this in Jesus’ teaching practice. Therefore, did Jesus tell his story of The Good Samaritan in Lk 10:27-37 from this interpretation of “love your neighbour = love the foreigner-enemy” in Lev 19:18 cf. 33-34? He provocatively says to his ‘own kind’ that the perceived foreigner-enemy, the Samaritan, had mercy on his perceived enemy, the Jew – while fellow Jews walked passed their beaten up ‘own kind’ as if he were the enemy! How radical is this? Jesus himself prayed for his enemies while they were driving nails through his hands, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing!” And Paul speaks of God’s enemies in Rom 5:8-10: God demonstrates his great love for us in that while we were “God’s enemies” he sent his Son to die for us, so that we may be reconciled to God.

Love of the foreigner, ‘the other’, ‘the enemy’, is the stream in the OT that Jesus teaches. We see it in Ex 23:4-5 and Prov 25:21-22, the command to do good to one’s enemies in various ways, thereby “heaping burning coals on their heads.” The OT does not teach hatred of enemies, as in humans beings made in God’s image, but hatred of evil itself, as in evil spirit, pride, lying, cheating, killing, and so on (Prov 6:16-19). It differentiates evil itself from the human instrument through which it comes. Evil is personal spiritual power(s) opposed God and his purposes in the heavens and earth. Hebrew ha satan, “the opposer”, is God’s enemy, the devil and his spiritual kingdom of demons.

Paul clearly says our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against our real enemy: the unseen spiritual forces of evil that operate in, on, and through human beings (Eph 6:12). He says in Rom 12:9-21, “hate what is evil; cling to what is good… bless those who persecute you… do not repay evil for evil… do not take revenge but leave room for God’s wrath…” Then he ends by quoting Prov 25:21-22 word for word! And concludes with, “do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21). Paul learnt well from Messiah Yeshua ha Notzri and his first apostles.

Therefore, “love your enemies” is about loving people as in your neighbour, the person in need, the foreigner, your enemy. Jesus’ command fulfils the spirit and intention of Torah. In fact, Jesus’ “love your enemies” – put in this way and the meaning he gives to it – is unprecedented in all of Jewish literature. It is not stated, let alone taught, in this specific way in the entire OT, in the inter-testamental writings, and at the time of Jesus (in the Essenes, Josephus and other Jewish literature). It’s not found in the Rabbinical writings of the Mishnah and Talmud (250-500 AD), neither in all of the Greek philosophers and the Greco-Roman literature. Jesus was truly unique and radical in this regard.

Three questions arise: WHO is (y)our enemy? WHY must you love them? And exactly HOW do you love them? Jesus answers them in reverse order.

The HOW. “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (v.44). This is a form of Hebrew parallelism: “to love” is paralleled by “to pray”, and “your enemy” is paralleled by “those who persecute you.” I.e. to pray for our enemies is to love them. Prayer is the first and highest act of love for those who oppose us, persecute, exploit and treat us unjustly. How so? Because prayer is power! God is our Creator-Father who has all the power in the heavens and earth, and he hears the cry of his children when we pray for the wellbeing of ‘the other.’ But prayer is not the only HOW or way of loving our enemy. What other ways can you think of – practically, specifically?

The WHY. The reason Jesus gives as to why we must love our enemies is “that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (v.45). By loving our enemies we live up to, and live out, our Father’s character of love and mercy. This is our witness to the world of who God is. Jesus grounds his reason in the Father’s love and mercy for both the righteous and the unrighteous, for both good and bad people – because God makes the sun to shine on both, he causes the rain to fall on both (v.45). Therefore, be like your Father in heaven and love your good neighbour and your bad enemy alike. Then you will be seen to be God’s child, living his character – different to all other people.

Jesus presses the point: “If you (only) love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” (v.46-47). Here is the WHO. He names two perceived enemies in his day: tax-collectors and pagans. The former were among the most despised of Jews, seen as enemies because they collected taxes for the oppressive Roman occupation. The latter were idol worshippers, perceived enemies of Judaism because they could lead non-Torah-keeping-Jews astray into idolatry as frequently happened in Israel’s history.

However, here’s the point: are Torah-keeping-Jews any different to the tax-collectors who love only their own kind? What recognition or reward does God give to that? If Gentile pagans greet only their own kind, and God’s covenant people Israel do the same, what good is that? What’s the difference?

So Jesus is saying to his followers, “You ARE different, you’ve entered God’s Kingdom, so BE different! Live differently by loving those who are not your own, by greeting those who are different to you. In so doing you show yourself to be children of the Father, living his nature of love for all people, especially for so-called enemies. This is the life of the new covenant that God intended and enabled by his Word and Spirit in you. Our Father recognises and rewards this life of love. He does so by using it (us) to make a difference in the world, as witness to his Kingdom of Heaven on earth – through you!”

The question must be contextualised and personalised: who is YOUR enemy? Both the perceived enemy of your group or national or cultural stereotype, as well as your personal enemy in daily life?

Jesus’ capstone summary and conclusion:

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The Greek for perfect, telios, does not mean sinless moral perfection, rather perfect as in complete, whole, full-grown, mature. It is the perfection of love. Luke’s version of the same phrase is enlightening: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:38). It can also be translated “compassionate.” I.e. Jesus is speaking of full-grown love, of being whole in God’s mature mercy and complete compassion for all, which shows God’s true nature.

In fact, Jesus’ “be perfect/merciful as your Father is perfect/merciful” is his interpretive quote of Lev 19:2, “Be holy, because I, the Lord your God, am holy” (the key verse in the Holiness Code, Lev 17 – 26). Here again we see Jesus’ mind working with the whole context of Lev 19:18, and Lev 19:33-34. Jesus interprets holiness, not as moral purity per se, but as wholeness, completeness, maturity in God’s love. This was in radical contrast to the Politics of Holiness in his day: the dominant system or way of legalistic purity and obedience to the letter of The Law – what Jesus called the “righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees.” Jesus understood holiness as the Politics of Love, his Messianic Way of Compassion, modelled in his life and ministry.

This is the perfection of love to which Jesus calls us. It’s the character of our Father that enables us to naturally live the life God intended, to easily obey Jesus’ six ethical teachings in Matt 5:21-47: “you’ve heard it said… but I say to you… go beyond anger to forgiveness and reconciliation, beyond lust to love, beyond divorce to integrity of marriage, beyond manipulation to truthfulness, beyond retaliation to non-violent resistance, and beyond hatred to love – loving your enemies.”

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Messianic Passover Seder with Jesus


As followers of Jesus, God’s (Jewish) Messiah, we relive the Passover meal (Pesach) with Rebbe Y’shua HaMoshiach and his disciples (see Mark 14:12-26, Matt 26:17-30, Luke 22:7-23, 1 Cor 10:15-17 cf. 11:23-26) – when he enacted the prophesied new covenant (Jer 31:31-34, Ezek 36:24-27), which he made with YHWH for all who believe through him.

This oldest of Jewish feasts, observed every year for over 35 centuries, is based on YHWH’s command to remember their deliverance (Exodus) from Egypt through blood sacrifice (Ex 13:3-10) – when the angel of death “passed over” the houses that had the blood of the lamb on the door lintels. The Pesach service was to tell the story (Haggadah, “telling”) of Israel’s miraculous deliverance by her Warrior-King YHWH. The Seder (order of service) was simple right through to Jesus’ time (27-31 ACE). It was adapted and expanded, after the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in 70 ACE, with the development of Rabbinical Judaism via the synagogue system (no more sacrificial system). To reconstruct/relive how Jesus celebrated that last Pesach is a matter of historical probability, not certainty! I will keep it simple as Y’shua and his talmudim probably did it – while mentioning post 70 ACE elements.

Biblical historical scholars say there were originally probably only four elements:

1) Passover lamb symbolized redemption – the paschal/unblemished lamb sacrificed to save us (John 1:29, 1Pet 1:19-20). It was roasted with fire, symbolizing God’s judgement.
2) Unleavened bread (matzos) symbolized the “bread of affliction” in Egypt when they left in a hurry (Deut 16:1-4). Yeast (“leaven”) was forbidden during 8 days of Pesach, symbolizing the cleansing and removal of sin (1Cor 5:6-8). Post 70 ACE the matzoh took on added meaning as the Rabbis decreed it to be a memorial of the Passover lamb.
3) Bitter herbs (maror) symbolized the hardships the Hebrews endured under Pharaoh.
4) Glasses of wine – how many is not clear – certainly the cup of sanctification and cup of redemption (also called cup of thanksgiving or blessing). The wine symbolized God’s setting them apart (sanctifying, making holy) by the blood of the lamb for their redemption/salvation.

Post 70 ACE elements that the Rabbis added to the Seder:

1) Roasted shank bone (z’roah) represents the sacrificial Passover lamb.
2) Sweet fruit mixture (charoset) made of apple, cinnamon, nuts, honey & wine, used to offset the sharpness of the bitter herbs – God’s sweet redemption is near in our bitter oppression. It also represents the mortar used by the Hebrew slaves in building Pharaoh’s cities.
3) Roasted egg (beitzah) and salt water: the brown egg traditionally symbolized mourning for Jews, reminding them of the Temple sacrifice (chagigah) for sin, which was lost – so they dip the egg in salt water (the tears of sadness) and eat it. Y’shuah’s death was “the once and for all” sacrifice for sin, which put an end to the sacrificial system, so we now shed tears of joy! And the egg in this context represents new life, new creation: the Lamb of God’s resurrection!
4) Green vegetables (karpas) as in parsley, was to recall the hyssop used by the Hebrews to mark the doorposts with the blood of the lamb (Ex 12:22). It is also dipped into the bowl of salt water (the tears of Israel) in their trust of God for the promise of new life (green).
5) Bitter root (chazeret) as in romaine lettuce, reinforced the bitter herbs, a reminder of the enslavement in Egypt – bitter to the root of one’s being – which God delivers us from.
6) Four wine glasses: 1st Sanctification, 2nd Rejoicing, 3rd Redemption, 4th Praise. A possible 5th Cup of Elijah – still debated! The Rabbi’s say Elijah will settle it when he comes!

THE SEDER AS JESUS might have celebrated it as per historical evidence:

  1. Lighting of two Candles (safely assumed… light of creation, light of Torah)

  2. Cup of Sanctification: Luke 22:17-18

  3. Washing of hands (or later, 6.): was it here that Jesus washed their feet? John 13:2f

  4. Sing the Hallel: Psalms 113 & 114 (Psalms 113-118 were sung at Passover, Mark 14:26)
  5. Second Cup of Rejoicing at which the Exodus story was retold by asking questions as to why that night was different, recalling the 10 plagues/miracles and pass-over deliverance (there’s no New Testament record of all this, but we can safely assume it)
  6. Washing of hands for the meal being served: did Jesus now wash their feet? John 13
  7. The Blessing for the unleavened bread, breaking and sharing it: Mark 14:22. Jesus dramatically said it was his body given/broken for us – in his life (John 6:35) and more so in his death on the cross. Imagine the impact this had on his disciples?
  8. Eating the meal: the paschal lamb, matzoh and bitter herbs (“sop”? see John 13:26)

  9. Third cup of Redemption (Thanksgiving): Mark 14:23-25, Luke 22:20, Matt 26:27-29, 1 Cor 10:16. Jesus said this cup, this “fruit of the vine”, was his blood of the new covenant (the B’rit Hadasah) poured out for us, for the forgiveness of our sins, giving us his (eternal) life, his Spirit. This was powerful and dramatic – Messianic! It brought to the minds of the disciples texts like Jer 31:31-34, Ezek 36:24-27, Lev 17:11, “the life of the flesh is in the blood. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin” (see Heb 9:22)
  10. Sing the Hallel, then they departed: Mark 14:26, Singing Psalm 115-118
  11. (Fourth Cup of Praise: no record of Jesus doing this, but it is traditionally blessed and taken after the final Hallel and then it’s followed with…

  12. (The Final blessing: no record of this but assumed, probably the Aaronic Blessing?)
  13. They went to the Garden of Gethsemane as they sang and walked deep in thought

THE POST 70 ACE SEDER as it has developed over the centuries to our present time

  1. Lighting of Candles (Hadlakat Ha-Ner): the mother of the home (or father)
  2. First Cup of Sanctification (Kiddush): the father/leader prays the prayer & all drink
  3. Washing of hands (Urchatz): for cleansing to begin the ceremony meal

  4. The Hallel: Sing Psalms 113 and 114
  5. First Serving – eating of Karpas: green vegetable dipped in salt water
  6. Breaking the Middle Matzoh (Yachatz): The three-part matzoh tash (pouch) with three sheets of matzoh is lifted up, also called echad (unity). It symbolizes Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or unity of worship in ancient Israel: Priests, Levites and Congregation. Yeshuah’s talmudim say it represents God as Father, Son, and Spirit. The middle piece (Son) is broken in half. One half is replaced and the other half (called the afikomen) is hidden while the children close their eyes – later to be found by them. This is “the bread of affliction”
  7. The Four Questions (Ma Nishtanah) and the Passover Story (Maggid & Haggadah):
    A child asks “
    the why” is this night different to all other nights:
    Why on all other nights do we eat bread with leaven, but on this night we eat only unleavened bread?
    Why on all other nights do we eat of all kinds of herbs, but on this night we eat bitter herbs?
    Why on all other nights do we not dip herbs at all, but on this night we dip them twice? Why on all other nights do we eat in the normal way, but on this night we eat with special ceremony?
    The leader
    then explains each of the answers and the story (haggadah) of the Exodus.

  8. Second Cup of Rejoicing: remembering the 10 plagues that came upon Egypt, each with a drip of wine on a plate – the cup of God’s wrath and of our rejoicing! This cup is not drunk.
  9. The Seder Meal and it’s symbolism:
    • The paschal lamb and it’s meaning:
    • The matzoh and its blessing:
    • The bitter herbs and its blessing:
    • The ‘Hillel sandwich’: combine the matzoh and bitter herbs and eat it – together with the lamb and the charoset (sweet mixture). See John 13:26.
    • Eat egg dipped in salt water: it’s customary to begin the meal with this

  10. The Grace after the meal: Prayer of Thanksgiving

  11. Finding and eating the Afikomen: it means “that which comes after” or “that which makes complete.” The Rabbis say it the substitute for the actual Passover lamb not sacrificed because there’s no Temple. Everyone eats a bit of it. Some say this is the bread that Jesus gave to his disciples calling it his body given for them, but there’s no historical evidence for this – probably a post 70 ACE Rabbinical development.

  12. Third Cup of Redemption: remembering the blood of the lamb put on the doorposts of the houses that bought them redemption. This is the cup that Jesus used when he said it was his blood of the new covenant (B’rit Hadasah) for our redemption.
  13. (Pour the Cup of Elijah – and the door is opened): not to drink the cup, but to see if he comes! I have this in brackets as some Jewish traditions do this, but others not.
  14. The Hallel: Sing Psalms 114 to 118

  15. Fourth Cup of Praise to end the service and the final blessing:

  16. The Conclusion – the Nirtzah – and “Next Year in Jerusalem”
    L’shanah Ha-Ba-ah b’Y’rushalayim