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.
A Second Mile Servant
“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 (quickview) ).
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”
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.
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
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.