Luke 6: “Two Birds, One Bread (Stone)”

I’ve been accused of using a lot of idioms around the office to explain a particular point I’m trying to make. One idiom I like to use a lot is, “We can kill two birds, with one stone.” Created as an expression to communicate efficiency, this idiom has been around since the late 1500’s. This famous idiom was never meant to literally kill two birds with one physical stone, but it’s been very helpful in creating a word picture we can understand.

One day in the office I used this expression and our graphic designer Adam looked across the table and raised an incredibly profound question. “Why does it have to be a stone? Why do we have to kill the birds, why can’t we feed them with one piece of bread?” Makes sense… you’re still getting the task done efficiently and the birds get to keep their life.

I say all of this of course, “tongue in cheek,” there I go again… but this subtle change, not so subtle for the birds, has raised an interesting thought. Are there other areas of life we need to consider a change in our response? Like, “Love your enemies.”

Eye for an Eye   vs   Love Your Enemies

Our reading for today brings us to Luke 6. This section of scripture is the section know as the Sermon on the Plain. This sermon may be compared to the longer Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. Although there were a lot of people around at the time, Jesus’ primary audience is his disciples (6:20). If you haven’t picked up on it yet, Jesus didn’t come to keep the status quo. In fact, Jesus came to flip the script! Well, he’s about to flip the script again when he talks about loving your enemies.


Luke 6:27-31 (NLT) 27 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. 30 Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. 31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

In Matthew’s Gospel account of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew indicates  that Jesus begins this section with a quote from the law found in Exodus.


Matthew 5:38 (NLT) 38 “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth…’


You may be interested to know this particular law was in effect if two men accidentally strike a pregnant women while fighting. No joke! The original law sighted by Moses reads:


Exodus 21:22-25 (NLT) 22 “Now suppose two men are fighting, and in the process they accidentally strike a pregnant woman so she gives birth prematurely. If no further injury results, the man who struck the woman must pay the amount of compensation the woman’s husband demands and the judges approve. 23 But if there is further injury, the punishment must match the injury: a life for a life, 24 an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, 25 a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a bruise for a bruise.


Jesus, knowing his audience, understands and identifies their prevailing thought in dealing with revenge. You hurt me, I get to hurt you. But think about the power of his teaching here. He’s communicating to his disciples that they need to live by a higher standard than the world’s. He’s saying, I know what the world expects of you, but this is what I expect of you.

I like to break it down like this:


  • v. 27  Do good… to those who hate you
  • v. 28  Bless… those who curse you
  •            Pray… for those who hurt you
  • v. 29  Punched in the jaw… (literal translation), offer the other side
  •            Demands your coat… offer your shirt
  • v. 30  Give… to anyone who asks
  •            Things taken away… don’t try to get them back
  • v. 31  Do to others as you would like them to do to you (Golden Rule)

 

 

I’m not going to lie, these are hard things, in fact, some would say and believe, impossible. They very well could be true, because many scholars believe that to the listener here, Jesus was advocating something to them that would seem impossible. But isn’t that the point. If you could do it on your own, why would you need Jesus?

The Jews in Jesus’ day were in a battle to escape Roman oppression. They hated the Romans! I can imagine tons of people jumping ship after this sermon. You need to realize, Jesus wasn’t advocating that you have to love what your enemy does. Instead, Jesus is telling his people you have a choice to choose love as a response.

Love doesn’t mean you get walked-on or advocate abuse. It means having a deeper sense of understanding to what’s going on in the life of person who hurt you. That understanding can only be given by the Holy Spirit.

Only through the Holy Spirit can a Youth Pastor in Indiana offer forgiveness to his wife’s killers.

How do you stop war? Love your enemy. War needs two combatants to be considered a war. War doesn’t exist if there’s no one to fight back.

This teaching is one of the most challenging for Christians to consider. Sometimes we are left with more questions than answers, but for today, lets seek God’s power to do exactly what Jesus said we should do:


  • v. 27  Do good… to those who hate you
  • v. 28  Bless… those who curse you
  •            Pray… for those who hurt you
  • v. 29  Punched in the jaw… (literal translation), offer the other side
  •            Someone demands your coat… offer your shirt
  • v. 30  Give… to anyone who asks
  •            Things taken away… don’t try to get them back
  • v. 31  Do to others as you would like them to do to you (Golden Rule)

Put down the stone and pick up a piece of bread instead.