Matthew 5:38-48                

Eye for Eye

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[h] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Love for Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Intro

The world Jesus came into was extremely polarized, fractioned and bitter.  On the one hand you had God’s people, the Israelites in bondage to Rome, a cruel and harsh master. On the other, a Jewish nation that hated the gentiles and hated those who did not interpret the law the way they did. Your brother was your enemy – the Pharisees and scribes divided people into good Israelites and bad Israelites- basically those who did not know the law.

Jesus comes with a radical new teaching: 43 You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

Jesus takes on the religious establishment not the Roman oppressors. He says, these teachers have used and abused the Old Testament. You have heard it said…

  • An eye for an eye.
  • Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.
  • BUT I TELL YOU:
    • This is not what the Father intended for you.
    • This is not how it works in the Kingdom I am establishing.
    • Here we will be returning to the Father’s intention:
    • This will be a Kingdom based on love not retaliation, retribution, hate and anger.
    • In this Kingdom we will not be in it for ourselves, our cliques, our likes our comfort and our power.
    • Our love will go wider than our family, friends and those who love us.
      • We will love the unloved,
      • The unlovable,
      • Even our enemies – those who oppose and persecute us.

Let us look at just one example of this radically different approach to life and changed attitudes that Jesus calls us to… 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.

Roman Rule:

Roman rule was oppressive, harsh and continued for a long time.

  • They were the enemies, foreign invaders – in essence you had a police state – martial law.
  • They instituted rules and laws the Jews hated.
  • They taxed the people beyond their ability to cope.
  • Nowhere did Jesus call for an uprising, a revolt or even a #campaign.
    • Tis greatly disappointed many potential followers who wanted a political leader to give them freedom from Rome.

 

The rule of Requisition

This rule allowed a Roman soldier to sequester any passerby to help him carry his load – usually about 90 pounds of armour and kit for a Roman Kilometer – about 1.45 Km.

Imagine:

  • You are on your way to a business deal, a social meeting, a date, school, a religious meeting.
  • As you walk down the hill a soldier says, “Hey you. Pick up my load and help me take it up that hill.” You have no choice, no excuse – you stop what you are doing and do what you are told.
  • It was stupid.
  • It was unjust.
  • It was unfair.
  • It was repressive.
  • It was undignified.
  • It was a clear abuse of power.
  • It had ramifications –
    • It wasted time.
    • It was hard work.
    • It kept people from being gainfully employed.
    • It was a social nuisance.
  • It was FORCED on you – this is not something you wanted to do and a benevolent choice you made to help someone or a charitable act.
  • Hatred, ANGER, RESENTMENT!

Jesus says, Change your attitude! Go an extra mile. Do more than is required – with the right attitude. Out of love.

  • Hang on! That’s unfair!
  • We should rather rebel! We should have a #stopthemile campaign!
  • We should organize a protest, even a rebellion.
  • What about my rights?

Mmm… Jesus says, As an ambassador of my Kingdom you have to obey the rules of the land you are in, whether you agree with them or not, whether they make sense or not, whether you like them or not. You represent me. Do it for ME.

Do you want to start a #stoptheextramile campaign against the teaching of Jesus?

True Christianity is radically different!

How do you respond to being forced to do things?

  • Lockdown?
  • Wearing a facemask?
  • Shuttering your business?
  • Dealing with “stupid” regulations and rules?

Note that Jesus said nothing about the actual rule, about its cruelness or the injustice of it. Jesus addressed how we deal with things the “enemy” throws at us. Your spiritual health depends a lot on how you manage the next few months, as you are again and again faced with things that are forced on you, that you have no control over – either by the virus or the authorities.

Will you lash out, rebel and blame, or will you seek out opportunities to do all things as unto Christ? Will you love rather than hate, forgive rather than blame and serve rather than stand on your rights? Will you embody the world or walk as Jesus did?

44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.