Summary: Jesus is calling us to a higher standard.

A Messiah Who Teaches Part 5: The Atypical Reaction of the Disciple

Text: Matthew 5:38-48


1. Illustration: The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is not - Do your duty, but - Do what is not your duty. It is not your duty to go the second mile, to turn the other cheek, but Jesus says if we are His disciples we shall always do these things. There will be no spirit of - "Oh, well, I cannot do any more, I have been so misrepresented and misunderstood." Every time I insist upon my rights, I hurt the Son of God; whereas I can prevent Jesus from being hurt if I take the blow myself. That is the meaning of filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ. The disciple realizes that it is his Lord’s honor that is at stake in his life, not his own honor (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, July 14).

2. How does a disciple of Jesus respond in a world that teaches:

a. Don’t get mad; get even.

b. Vengeance is a dish best served cold.

3. In answering this question, we must consider:

a. The Typical Response

b. The Atypical Response

4. Read Matt. 5:38-48

Proposition: Jesus is calling us to a higher standard.

Transition: First, let us consider...

I. The Typical Reaction (38-42).

A. An Eye For An Eye

1. Once again, Jesus deals with a misconception of a Scriptural principle. The basis of this teaching comes from 3 OT texts.

a. Exodus 21:23-25 (NLT)

But if there is further injury, the punishment must match the injury: a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a bruise for a bruise.

b. Leviticus 24:19-20 (NLT)

“Anyone who injures another person must be dealt with according to the injury inflicted— a fracture for a fracture, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Whatever anyone does to injure another person must be paid back in kind.

c. Deuteronomy 19:21 (NLT)

You must show no pity for the guilty! Your rule should be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

2. Jesus says, “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’"

a. The whole idea of the OT mandate of "an eye for an eye" was so that people did not exceeded the punishment.

b. In fact, the law taught that vengeance belonged to God

c. Deuteronomy 32:35 (NLT)

I will take revenge; I will pay them back. In due time their feet will slip. Their day of disaster will arrive, and their destiny will overtake them.’

d. However, once again, people were taking undue liberties with the Scriptures. They said that vengeance was not only permitted, but mandated. In other words, it was their duty to get even!

e. Just as in his teaching on divorce, Jesus transcends an OT teaching that was given because of the hardness of the human heart (Turner, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, 93).

3. Consequently, Jesus tells us a better way. He does so by listing four concrete solutions. The first one, "But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also."

a. He is talking about a personal dispute that leads to an insulting back-hand slap by a right-handed person to the right cheek of another person.

b. A back handed blow to the right cheek was an insult, and considered a personal attack on a person’s dignity (Keener, IVP NT Commentary: Matthew, 128).

c. In the case of offense to our personal dignity, Jesus not only warns us not to avenge our honor but suggests that we indulge the offender further.

d. The startling teaching of this passage is that these are bad people (an evil person), intent on getting the better of the disciple, but even their admitted badness does not justify the disciple in resisting them (France, NICNT: Matthew, 220).

4. The second situation that Jesus sites has to do with legal matters. "If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too."

a. He is referring to a legal dispute in which one is ordered to forfeit one’s shirt to supply collateral for a debt to satisfy a claim for damages.

b. Many peasants had only one outer cloak and pursued whatever legal recourse to get it back.

c. Because the outer cloak also doubled as a poor man’s bedding, biblical law permitted no one to take it, even as a pledge overnight (Keener, 128).

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