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Summary: Jesus went to the grave and back for us, as followers of Him we are expected, and should be willing, to go the extra mile for His sake.

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A Second Mile Servant

05/31/09

Text: Matthew 5:38-48

Introduction

“If someone forces you to go one mile…” This concept came out of old Persia and refers to the authority given by the king to those sent to do his bidding. If a courier or soldier needed assistance in fulfilling the king’s mission, he could commandeer any resource with no questions asked. The Romans adopted this practice and in Jesus’ day any Jew could be forced away from his own concerns to help a legionnaire. In much the same way Simon of Cyrene was “compelled,” to bear the cross of Jesus (Matthew 27:32).

Living in a one-mile world, the Jews of Jesus’ day would have seen this law as a symbol of foreign domination. You can imagine what they thought when Jesus said, “go with him two miles.”

I. A One mile World

“If someone forces you, strikes you, sues you, asks you”

(Matthew 5:38-42).

A. This saying is hard on us because we, like the audience of Jesus, live in a one-mile world.

1. It is a world of rights and responsibilities.

2. It is a world of basic criteria and minimum standards.

B. Our system of “justice” is built on the principle of “reciprocity,” a relation of mutual action; cause and effect. It seeks to insure that those who violate rights and deny justice are appropriately punished.

1. “An eye for an eye,” is the way the Bible puts it.

Matthew 5:38 (NASB) 38“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ (Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20)

2.Not meaning retaliation but this law was to insure justice by providing proportional compensation to the victim.

a.These were intended for the Judges to use in judicial decisions.

b.It was designed to keep those with influence and power from literally “getting away with murder.”

c.It seems that the Jews had made this law (the execution of which belonged to the civil magistrate) a ground for authorizing private resentments, and all the excesses committed by a vindictive spirit.

d.Revenge was often carried to the utmost extremity, and more evil returned than what had been received.

e.This is often the case in the one mile mindset of the world.

C. Understanding this, we are even more surprised at these words of Jesus.

1. Rather than calling upon them (and us) to resist this unjust law or, at best, to comply with it only minimally, he calls upon his followers to respond to evil with good and to domination with voluntary service.

2. To citizens of a one-mile world this is not natural.

II. A Second mile Servant

“Turn the other cheek, give your coat also, go the second mile, love your enemies” (Matthew 5:38-48)

A. From my inborn one-mile world perspective, I want to explain away this text, explain how it does not really mean what it says.

1. I would like to pass it off as just a figure of speech, “oriental exaggeration” or “rhetorical hyperbole.” I may want to do this but I can’t.

2. It is clear that He is calling for a new and different response to the world around us.

B. So what does it mean to “go the second mile?”

1.It means to swallow pride and abandon selfishness.

a.Jesus made this point to His disciples when their own “one mile road” ambitions came into play.

Read Mark 10:41-45

b.Read John 13:12-17 (Example of Jesus)

2.It means to be quick to forgive:

a.This was the lesson Jesus gave to Peter when Peter asked about forgiveness. Read Matthew 18:21-35

3.It means to rise above the instinctive desire to “strike back,” “get even,” or “settle the score”.

a.That is, rather than avenge yourself, be ready to suffer patiently a repetition of the same injury.

b.Romans 12:14-21

4.It means we can not ignore evil but must meet evil with good

a.1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.

b.Our efforts must go beyond the brethren and include all people.

c.Read 1 Peter 3:8-9 (Tie this to verse 15)

C. Why should we do this?

1. To master the power of passive resistance? To shame the sinner into repentance?

2. Do this, He says, because:

John 13:15 (NASB) 15“For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.

3.God acts like this toward us.

Matthew 6:14 - 15 (NASB) “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

4.Because we are Children of God:

Matthew 5:48 (NASB) “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Conclusion

Jesus went to the grave and back for us, as followers of Him we are expected, and should be willing, to go the extra mile for His sake.

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