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Jesus says his followers are to be perfect, like their Father in Heaven. That doesn’t sound easy. Jesus teaches us it’s not just hard, it’s almost unimaginable. Why would we do that? Why would we even try to do it? Pastor Luke teaches from Matthew 5:38–48 in “Rain or Shine,” the first message in a new series “Being Perfect.”OPEN. 1. When have you been told (or told yourself) that you needed to count to 10 before acting? Did you? What happened?
UNPACK. Read Matthew 5: 38–48
2. Jesus mentions the principle of Retaliation (“an eye for an eye”), which appears several times in the Old Testament Law, such as Exodus 21: 22–27. Read that passage. What purpose does retaliation serve there?
3. Read Job 22: 5–7. What does that suggest about how people in Jesus’ culture would view someone who sued to take another’s shirt?
4. Read Exodus 22: 25–27. Why, in light of that passage and your answer to question 3, would Jesus say to give someone who sued for your shirt your coat (cloak) too? What would it mean in that culture?
5. Read Leviticus 19: 9–18, which Jesus refers to in Matthew 5: 43. Who does it say to love and to hate? What does Jesus say to do about people who are your enemies and persecutors?
6. Jesus implies (v. 47) that his followers such do more than people who don’t follow him. What more should they do? Why? (Consider vv. 45, 48.)
APPLY. 7. What would society look like if everyone practiced the teaching Jesus gives in Matthew 5: 39–42? What if most people did?
8. “To love” (v. 44) is to want good for someone. Jesus says to want it and pray God will give it. Is that what you want for someone who hurts you?
9. Why is it harder to wish good for someone who hurts you than it is to wish ill? Why is it easier to pray for vengeance than for God to show mercy to a wrongdoer?
10. When you read v. 45b, which category did you put yourself in? Why?