*I know there is a lot of folklore that goes with the masterpiece of the Lord’s Supper painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. Whether this is true or not, I love this story I read recently about the painting.
When Leonardo Da Vinci was working on this famous Last Supper painting, he became angry with one of his assistants, berating the man without mercy. After banishing his assistant from his studio, he went back to work. As an act of revenge, he used the person’s face who had offended him for the face of Judas.
He continued his work until he tried to paint the face of Jesus, and he couldn’t do it. No matter how hard he tried, he was unable to paint Christ’s. So he stopped painting, went to his assistant and asked his forgiveness. Only when the man forgave him and they reconciled was Da Vinci able to return to the table of the Last Supper and paint Jesus.
When Leonardo showed mercy and pardon to his assistant, Jesus became a lot clearer. This is where we land in today’s reading. Jesus becomes clearer to us and the world around us based on how we respond to people who hurt us or take advantage of us. In fact, when we read this chapter, we recognize that it’s about Christian retaliation.
Listen to Jesus’ words from Luke’s Sermon on the Mount:
I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. (Luke 6:27-31)
Here is the Christian retaliation: Do good to those who hate you. Pray for those who mistreat you. Notice I didn’t say to post about it on social media. We are to pray, not post.
If a person hits you on one side, offer the other side. If they steal, give them something else they didn’t ask for. Give to everyone who asks of you and don’t demand back.
This seems unnatural to do—and it is. It’s supernatural. This is where the face of Jesus shows up clearer for you, on you, and for others…
If we show mercy, we will get it overflowing back. If we show pardon, we will be forgiven many times over.
Jesus was telling us to let someone off the hook today. You may “have them” and have a screenshot of a text they sent, for example. You have a smoking gun. But how about showing mercy and pardoning them? Your goal every day is not to convict and find evidence on how bad people are to you. Instead, Jesus wants your goal to be to pardon when you have the evidence to convict.
Here are the rest of Jesus’ words to those who retaliate this way:
Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the most high; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. (Luke 6:35)
Did you catch that? Your reward will be great when you retaliate God’s way. What kind of reward was Jesus referring to? He tells us in verse 38:
Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return…
Retaliate the right way—the Jesus way—and you’ll find the rewards are amazing.