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People would have been familiar with several options for living. They could choose to collaborate with the Romans like the Sadducees and even the tax collectors. They could choose to live according to a high standard of rules and regulations designed (supposedly) to gain God’s favor by being good righteous people (tsadiqs) who then would return Israel to its former glory. They could also choose to be rebels like the Zealots and help God usher in the this return with guerilla warfare and rebellions. They could also leave it all behind and live in secluded little communities like the Essenes.

Jesus offers us a different way. It is not one of compromise and collaboration. It is about doing what is right in God’s eyes in such a way that people see a real person who love God and loves others. It doesn’t burden people with impossible standards that end up creating different classes of people with the really righteous people as the ones who make up the rules so that they can continue to make up the rules. Jesus calls his people to serve others. It is not about bloodshed but about loving your enemy. It is not about withdrawal but about loving engagement.

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