Last week: progressive blessings
1. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. True happiness starts with realizing we are spiritually bankrupt. Our reward for this is the kingdom of heaven. This blessing is first, because this is where we start with God.
2. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”. The godly reaction to poverty of spirit is mourning. We mourn our poverty of spirit. Our reward for the sorrow of our bankrupt spiritual state is comfort.
3. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Meekness is moderation and balance. A meek person has learned that happiness doesn’t lie in his possessions, but in a relationship with God.
4. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” In the first 3 blessings, we are emptied. Now we are filled. If we are passionate about our quest for righteousness, our reward is being filled so we hunger no more.
5. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Those who show mercy receive mercy. The Beatitudes are like a beacon light that calls us to self-examination. If we’re merciful, then others will be merciful to us (Luke 6:38; 1 Corinthians 11:28,31).
6. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Being “pure in heart” is a work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Now, we can see God in His creation, in the events in history, and in our daily circumstances. In the future we shall see God face to face.
7. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Peacemakers deal with corrupted issues so there can be a true state of peace. Real peace can never be found in a compromise with evil. There can never be a peaceful coexistence with sin. The radical Muslims understand this concept. Anything contrary to their teaching is intolerable. Christians are much more pleased to tolerate and coexist with sin.
8. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven for great is your reward in heaven”. Persecution is not just having your head cut off by some radical Muslim. It can be being ridiculed at school, being passed over for a promotion, or being rejected by popular media.
See what is not there. There is a youtube video of a guy leaving for work in a hurry and he nearly backs over a kid as he leaves his driveway, gets cut off in the parking lot, gets bad service at the coffee shop, etc. He is commenting to himself as these things happen, complaining and being critical of his annoyances. Then the action replays but, this time, he puts on special glasses that let him see text bubbles on the people who annoyed him. Things like a text bubble on the kid in the street that says this child needs someone to care, one in the coffee shop has a text bubble that says he is struggling with a sense of purpose, another person is disconnected with life, another avoids relationships for fear of pain, another has never known true friendship, another recently lost his job, another is fighting addiction, one just needs a hug, one is working two jobs to feed her kids, one is grieving her best friend, all things in other people’s lives that are not visible. See what is not there.
Lastly, let your light shine. Who knows you are a Christian? And, be a Scooby Doo band aid.
This week, we look at righteousness and the law. The relationship of Jesus and the law.
To the Jews, Jesus appears to be abandoning the Mosaic law:
Abraham was the ticket to heaven, no more.
Ritual observance was righteousness but now it involves redemption and even our thoughts.
God and heaven were exclusively Jewish but now Gentiles, Samaritans, and everyone is on equal footing.
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:17-18)
Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets: Jesus began a discussion of the law, and wanted to make it clear that He did not oppose what God gave Israel in the Old Testament. He did not come to destroy the word of God, but to free it from the way the Pharisees and Scribes had wrongly interpreted it.
I did not come to destroy but to fulfill: Jesus wanted to make it clear that He had authority apart from the Law of Moses, but not in contradiction to it. Jesus added nothing to the law except one thing that no man had ever added to the law: perfect obedience.
Even though He often challenged man’s interpretations of the law (especially Sabbath regulations), Jesus never broke the law of God.
· Jesus fulfilled the doctrinal teachings of the Law and brought new and full revelation.
· Jesus fulfilled the predictive prophecy of the Law and the Prophets in that He is the Promised One.
· Jesus fulfilled the moral and legal demands of the Law and the Prophets in that He fully obeyed them and He interpreted them in their truth.
· Jesus fulfilled the penalty of the Law for us by His death on the cross, taking the penalty we deserved.
One jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled: The jot and the tittle were the smallest marks in Hebrew writing. To us, not one period or comma shall pass.
Now we learn the disciple’s relationship to the law.
“Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19-20)
Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments: The commandments are to be obeyed as explained and fulfilled by Jesus’ life and teaching, not as in the legalistic thinking of the religious authorities of Jesus’ day. For example, sacrifice is commanded by the law, but it was fulfilled in Jesus, so we do not run the danger of being called least in the kingdom of heaven by not observing animal sacrifice as detailed in the Law of Moses.
Thankfully, two things have to happen before we are least in the kingdom. First, we have to break the law, which we have all already done. Second, we have to also teach breaking the law. That doesn’t necessarily mean standing in front of a group and lecturing. I can also be teaching by example. Showing people hypocrisy, situational ethics, unrighteousness, lack of mercy, or lack of moderation.
Whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven: The Christian is done with the law as a means of gaining a righteous standing before God. One passage that explains this is Galatians 2:21: For if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain. However, the law stands as the perfect expression of God’s ethical character and requirements.
Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven: Considering the incredible devotion to the law shown by the scribes and Pharisees, how can we ever hope to exceed their righteousness?
The Pharisees were so scrupulous in their keeping of the law that they would even tithe from the small spices obtained from their herb gardens (Matthew 23:23). The heart of this devotion to God is shown by modern day Orthodox Jews. In early 1992, tenants let three apartments in an Orthodox neighborhood in Israel burn to the ground while they asked a rabbi whether a telephone call to the fire department on the Sabbath violated Jewish law. Observant Jews are forbidden to use the phone on the Sabbath, because doing so would break an electrical current, which is considered a form of work. In the half-hour it took the rabbi to decide “yes,” the fire spread to two neighboring apartments.
We can exceed their righteousness because our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees in kind, not degree. Paul describes the two kinds of righteousness in Philippians 3:6-9: Concerning the righteousness which is in the law, [I was] blameless. But what things were gain to me, I have counted loss for Christ. But indeed, I count all things loss . . . that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.
Though the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was impressive to human observation, it could not prevail before God (Isaiah 64:6).
So, we are not made righteous by keeping the OT law. When we see what keeping the law really means, I’m very thankful that Jesus offers us a different kind of righteousness.
Now, in this section, Jesus shows the true meaning of the law. But this isn’t Jesus against Moses; it is Jesus against false and superficial interpretations of Moses. In regard to the law, the two errors of the scribes and Pharisees were that they both restricted God’s commands (as in the law of murder) and extended the commands of God past His intention (as in the law of divorce). First, Jesus interprets the law against murder.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” (Matthew 5:21-22)
You have heard it said: These people had not really studied the Law of Moses for themselves. All they had was the teaching on the law from the scribes and Pharisees. In this particular matter, the people had heard the scribes and Pharisees teach “You shall not murder.” The scribes and Pharisees were the most religious people in the country. The scribes read and interpreted the law of God for the people (Ezra 7:10). After the Babylonian captivity, the common people could no longer read the Hebrew language, and they depended on the scribes for the interpretation of the law. The Pharisees were a religious sect who spent their lives endeavoring to live by every detail of the law. They put the emphasis on the outward observances of the law and ignored the inward law of God. They obeyed the law with the wrong motive: they wanted to be seen by men.
When Jesus said, “it was said to those of old,” He reminds us that something isn’t true just because it is old. And if it is not true, it’s antiquity is no credit to it.
But I say to you: Jesus shows His authority, and does not rely on the words of previous scribes or teachers. He will teach them the true understanding of the Law of Moses.
Whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: The teaching of the scribes and Pharisees (“You shall not murder”) was true enough. Yet they also taught that anything short or murder might be allowed. Jesus corrects this, and makes it clear that it is not only those who commit the act of murder who are in danger of judgment. Bit also those who have a murderous intent in the heart are also in danger of the judgment. According to the thinking of the scribes and Pharisees, if I wanted my neighbor dead, I could just cause someone else to kill him and my hands would be clean. Jesus exposes the essence of the scribes’ heresy. To them, the law was really only a matter of external performance, never the heart. Jesus brings the law back to the matters of the heart.
Barclay, commenting on the specific ancient Greek word translated angry says, “So Jesus forbids for ever the anger which broods, the anger which will not forget, the anger which refuses to be pacified, the anger which seeks revenge.”
And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!” shall be in danger of the council: To call someone “Raca” expressed contempt for their intelligence. Calling someone a fool showed contempt for their character. Either one broke the heart of the law against murder, even if it did not commit murder.
Commentators have translated the idea behind Raca as “nitwit, blockhead, numbskull, bonehead, idiot.” “Raca is an almost untranslatable word, because it describes a tone of voice more than anything else. Its whole accent is the accent of contempt . . . It is the word of one who despises another with an arrogant contempt.” (Barclay)
More on problem personal relationships.
“Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.” (Matthew 5:23-26)
Leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way: Jesus considers it far more important to be reconciled to a brother than to perform a religious duty. Jesus says we must first be reconciled to our brother. We can’t think that our service towards the Lord justifies bad relationships with others. We should do what Paul commanded in Romans 12:18: If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
Agree with your adversary quickly: Jesus commands us to quickly settle anger and malice with another. When we ignore it or pass it off, it genuinely imprisons us spiritually and may very well imprison us physically.
Paul expresses the same idea in Ephesians 4:26-27, do not let the sun go down on your wrath.
Time does not heal wounds. It only makes them more difficult to fix.
Jesus interprets the law against adultery.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)
You have heard that it was said to those of old: Now, Jesus deals with what they had heard regarding the law of adultery. Of course, the teachers of the day taught that adultery itself was wrong. But they applied the law only to the actions, not to the heart.
Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart: Jesus explains that it is possible to commit adultery or murder in our heart – or mind, and this also is sin and prohibited by the command against adultery. Some people keep from adultery because they are afraid to get caught, but in their heart they still commit adultery because it is only fear that holds them back.
Adultery . . . in his heart: Since Jesus considers adultery in the heart a sin, we know what we think about and allow our heart to rest on is based on choice. Many believe they have no choice – and therefore no responsibility – for what they think about, but this contradicts the clear teaching of Jesus here. We may not be able to control passing thoughts or feelings, but we certainly do decide where our heart and mind will rest.
It is also important to distinguish between temptation to sin and sin itself. Bruce explains it well by saying the “look” Jesus is talking about is “not casual but persistent, the desire not involuntary or momentary, but cherished with longing.”
It is interesting to look at how religions respond to doctrinal teaching. In America, the Baptist outlawed alcohol and dancing. Jesus drank. David and Moses danced. We are not talking about modern dance. The Baptist outlawed dancing in the early 1800′s when dancing was far from sexual. But, in 1996, after 20 years of Madonna grinding on MTV, Baylor decides it is OK to dance and lifts its dancing ban. As far as looking at a woman and lusting, the hard core Muslims handle that easily by requiring women to wear burkhas that only show their eyes – and those only through a fabric screen.
“If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” (Matthew 5:29-30)
It is safe to say everyone in this room believes the Bible is the literal word of God but, the Bible is not always literal. The Bible’s “Figures of speech” suspend the normal meaning of words to convey an emphasized message that is easily understood by people in a particular culture. Hebrew and Greek use figures of speech just like English does. The problem is, we’re thousands of years and miles removed from Biblical culture. We don’t always quickly identify a figure of speech. Are we really supposed to hate our parents (Luke 14:26)? Was Jesus being rude to His mother (John 2:4)? Does a camel really go through the eye of a needle (Matthew 19:24)? In his book, Bullinger describes in great detail 217 distinct figures of speech. How literally should we interpret scripture? When you study a passage do you interpret the figures of speech or do you assume they are taken literally? We have approximately 40,000 words to express hundreds of thousands of experiences, feelings, and thoughts. Because of this poverty of words, we begin saying the sun rises or we feel blue; even though the sun does not rise and colors are not feelings. This type of expression is what we call a figure of speech, which is a special way of creating a picture in the mind of the reader to enhance understanding.
Principles for Interpreting Figures of Speech:
Identify a figure by trying to take the passage literally. If it makes no sense to apply it literally, then it’s probably a figure of speech.
Let the context determine the meaning of the figure.
Look for what is behind the figure; what is represented.
Look for specific points of similarity and difference.
Don’t push the figure past the author’s intended meaning – there’s a limit to the meaning of any figure of speech.
Some figures of speech are easy to identify, like plucking out your eyes, which we are about to discuss, and camels going through the eyes of needles. Others are more subtle. When we look around at what God has done, to see the truth, as God instructed us to in Romans, we see a 13 billion year old Earth. But, if you are tasked with explaining God’s creation to ancient Jews who have the scientific aptitude of pre-schoolers, a figure of speech relating to 6 distinct days and compressing time would create a picture to allow understanding for those people in that culture. The obvious message behind the figure is that God is the creator and clearly responsible for the creation of the universe. A similar thing happens with the word “forty”. Today, forty is forty. At the time of these writings, “forty” was a figure of speech meaning “many”. Whether it rained for forty literal days or whether “forty” is here a figure a speech makes absolutely no difference to the meaning of the event. But, when it comes to plucking out eyes, it is important to know when the Bible is literal and when it is figurative.
If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out: Here Jesus uses a figure of speech, and did not speak literally. Some people have taken it literally. Origen, the famous early Christian writer castrated himself on the principle of this passage. It can’t be literal. If you did cut off your hand or gouge out your eye, you could still sin with your other hand or eye. When all those are gone, you can especially sin with your mind.
It is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell: Jesus stresses the point that we must be willing to sacrifice to be obedient. If part of our life is given over to sin, we must be convinced that it is more profitable for that one individual part our life to “die” rather than to condemn our whole life. We have to get beyond the “wish to be better” and actually do something to eliminate the mechanics of our individual sins.
Now, Jesus interprets the law concerning divorce.
“Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce. But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31-32)
It has been said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce”: In Jesus’ day, many people interpreted the Mosaic permission for divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1) as granting virtually any reason as grounds for divorce. Some rabbis taught this even extended to allowing a man to divorce his wife if she burnt his breakfast.
“Moses insisted upon ‘a writing of divorcement,’ that angry passions might have time to cool and that the separation, if it must come, might be performed with deliberation and legal formality. Yet in Jesus’ day this permission of Deuteronomy 24:1 had become an instrument of cruelty against wives. “The scribes busied themselves solely about getting the bill of separation into due legal form. They did nothing to restrain the unjust caprice of husbands; they rather opened a wider door to licence.” (Bruce)
Whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality: The issue of divorce revolved around a strict or loose interpretation of the word uncleanness in Deuteronomy 24:1. Those who wanted to make divorce easy had a loose interpretation. Jesus makes it plain that the idea of uncleanness is sexual immorality, not anything the wife might do to displease the husband.
This emphasis of Jesus on the permanency of marriage and the wrong of unjustified divorce went against the thinking of Jewish and the Gentile cultures. “In Greece we see a whole social system based on relationships outside marriage; we see that these relationships were accepted as natural and normal, and not in the least blameworthy.” Roman culture came to adopt this attitude towards marriage. (Barclay)
Causes her to commit adultery: An illegitimate divorce gives place to adultery because God doesn’t recognize the divorce, and sees a new relationship as bigamous. It is possible for a person to have a divorce that is recognized by the state, but not by God. If that person goes on to marry someone else, God considers that relationship adultery because they are still married, in the eyes of God, to their first spouse. That is one reason I think the government ought to get out of the marriage business.
Our society has a marriage problem. When I was a kid, playing football in Randy Lloyd’s front yard, when there was a disputed play, there was usually a heated argument ending with “do over”. American marriage is much the same way. Why go through the effort and pain to make it work when you can so easily just walk away, “do over”, and start fresh? It is much easier to trade in for a new model than to repair a relationship with a history of unmet needs and unsolved problems. I once asked a neighbor how his new wife was working out and he said, “new face, same problems.” If you are married in a church, you swear an oath before God: the wedding vows. We’ll talk about oaths in just a minute but, even bigger is our commandment to love our spouse as God loves the church. That is some serious stuff. Is there any thing we can do to make God divorce us? No. Likewise, there is nothing our spouse can do, including adultery, to make us divorce them. Just because we have the right to divorce an adulterous spouse does not mean we should. Would Jesus divorce me for the same reason? No. God’s intention for marriage is that they be no longer two, but one flesh (Matthew 19:5-6; 1 Corinthians 6:15-20). It’s not a piece of paper or a ring. If it’s according to God, it’s one flesh. You can’t split one flesh. Matthew 19:6 also says, what God has joined together, let no man separate. The “man” in this verse is the husband and the wife and there are no conditions. There is no: don’t separate unless he turns out to be a bum, unless you find someone you like more, unless you discover irreconcilable differences. This is an unconditional, permanent union.
Now, Jesus interprets the law concerning oaths.
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:33-37).
You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not swear falsely”: The scribes and Pharisees had twisted the law, You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain (Exodus 20:7), to permit taking virtually every other name in a false oath because it was not specifically forbidden. The Pharisees had created a legal way of lying, and they became clever in their speech.
God gave the law to prevent chaos and for our own benefit (Psalms 1:1-3). We so often lie to ourselves, to others, and to God that we live in an atmosphere of distrust, so that a normal man has to swear to affirm that he is telling the truth.
Do not swear at all: Jesus reminds us that God is part of every oath anyway; if you swear by heaven, earth, Jerusalem, or even your head, you swear by God – and your oath must be honored.
But let your “Yes” be “Yes”: Having to swear or make oaths betrays the weakness of your word. It demonstrates that there is not enough weight in your own character to confirm your words. How much better it is to let your “Yes” be “Yes” and “No” be “No.”
I couldn’t get this verse out of my head in west Africa. Many of the African men love to talk. My dear friend Malakie was my right hand man and interpreter. If I asked a question that called for a simple, one word, yes, or no, answer, I would inevitably get a paragraph. If he asked me a simple question and I just answered yes, or no, he would look at me like he was expecting more words. I would finally say, “just yes.” He would then start a discussion of my “just yes” answer. He used so many words, when he would finish an answer, I’d say, “so the answer is yes. He would then reply, “yes”, and in the same breath start an explanation about it being yes. It became a game and I would count how many words he used to answer. I would count right in front of him on my fingers and he would see me counting. He was mentally unable to just let yes be yes.
He was a joy to talk to and great at teaching me some of the 8 different Krio dialects, some of which were barely recognizable as being based on the Queen’s English.
Some have taken this word of Jesus about oaths to be more than an emphasis on truth-telling and honesty and to be an absolute prohibition of all oaths. This is misguided, because oaths are permitted under certain circumstances, as long as they are not abused and used as a cover for deception. The Pledge of Allegiance is an oath. Wedding vows are an oath. In court, you swear an oath of truth.
· God Himself swears oaths: Hebrews 6:13 and Luke 1:73.
· Jesus spoke under oath in a court: Matthew 26:63-64.
· Paul made oaths: Romans 1:9, 2 Corinthians 1:23, Galatians 1:20, 2 Thessalonians 2:5.
Jesus interprets the law of retribution.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.” (Matthew 5:38-42)
You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”: The Mosaic law did teach an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth (Exodus 21:24). But over time religious teachers moved this command out of its proper context (a principle limiting retribution for the civil government) and put it in the wrong sphere (as an obligation in personal relationships).
But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also: Here, Jesus presents the fullness of the eye for an eye law, and how its idea of limiting revenge extends into the principle of accepting certain evils against your self.
When a person insults us (slaps you on the right cheek) we want to give them back what they gave to us, plus more. Jesus said we should patiently bear such insults and offences, and not resist an evil person who insults us this way. Instead, we trust God to defend us.
It is wrong to think Jesus means evil should never be resisted. Jesus demonstrated with His life that evil should and must be resisted, such as when He turned tables in the temple.
“Jesus is here saying that the Christian has learned to resent no insult and to seek retaliation for no slight.” (Barclay) When we think how Jesus Himself was insulted and spoken against (as a glutton, a drunk, an illegitimate child, a blasphemer, a madman, and so forth) we see how He lived this principle Himself.
It is wrong to think that Jesus means a physical attack cannot be resisted or defended against. When Jesus speaks of a slap on your right cheek, it was culturally understood as a deep insult, not a physical attack. Jesus does not mean that if someone hits you across the right side of our head with a baseball bat, you should allow them to then hit the left side.
It is also wrong to think Jesus means that there is no place for punishment or retribution in society. Jesus here speaks to personal relationships, and not to the proper functions of government in restraining evil (Romans 13:1-4). I must turn my cheek when I am personally insulted, but the government has a responsibility to restrain criminals and prevent physical assault.
If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also: Under the Law of Moses, the outer cloak was something that could not be taken from someone (Exodus 22:26; Deuteronomy 24:13).
“Yet even in a country where justice can be had, We are not to resort to law for every personal wrong. We should rather endure to be put upon than be forever crying out, ‘I’ll bring an action.’” (Spurgeon) We need tort reform today, needed it in Spurgeon’s day, and needed it in Jesus’ day.
Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two: Positively, we are told to take command of evil impositions by making a deliberate choice to give more than we are required. At that time, Judea was under Roman military occupation. Under military law, any Roman soldier could command a Jew to carry his soldier’s pack for one mile – but only one mile. Jesus here says, “go beyond the one mile required by law and give another mile out of a free choice of love.” This is how we transform an attempt to manipulate us into a free act of love.
“The old said, Insist on your own right, and loving your neighbor, hate your enemy, and so secure your safety. Now Jesus says, suffer wrong, and lavish your love on all.” (Morgan)
Paul repeated this idea of Jesus: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)
Next week, Jesus interprets the law of love towards your neighbor.