Summary: Matthew 5:38-48
JUST BE KIND - Being Kind When It’s Hard
November 17, 2019
Matthew 5:38-48 (p. 678)
Amber Guyger had just finished a 13 hour shift as a Dallas Police officer and was on her way home. She was texting her boyfriend who was also a cop. She pulled into her parking garage, distracted and tired….and did not notice she parked on the wrong level. So when she entered and walked into what she thought was her apartment, she encountered a man named Botham Jean. Terrified she drew her service weapon and shot him in the heart…killing him. It was only afterward that she realized she was in the wrong apartment one floor above and she had killed an innocent man in his own home.
Amber Guyger was found guilty of murder and convicted to 10 years in prison.
During the victim impact statements, Botham Jean’s brother Brandt changed the entire dynamics of the proceeding when he addressed Amber…
“I love you just like anyone else,” Brandt said. “I’m not going to say I hope you rot and die…I personally want the best for you and I wasn’t going to ever say this in front of my family or anyone but I don’t even want you to go to jail. I want the best for you because I know that’s exactly what Botham would want you to do - and the best would be to give your life to Christ.”
After wrapping up his statement, Brandt asked Judge Tammy Kemp if he could give Guyger a hug.
“I don’t know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug?” he asked. “Please…Please?”
Shortly after, he and Guyger embraced each other for nearly a minute before both returned to their seats.
Brandt then walked out of the courtroom, after getting a thumbs up sign from his father, the local paper reports. Judge Tammy Kemp also left, but returned a short time later with her own personal Bible. She gave the book to Guyger and made reference to the passage John 3:16.
“You just need a tiny mustard seed of faith,” Kemp said, according to local station WFAA. “You start with this.” Kemp and Guyger then hugged and Guyger whispered something into the judge’s ear.
“You haven’t done so much that you can’t be forgiven,” the judge told her. “You did something bad in one moment in time. What you do now matters.”
Guyger was then led away to begin her prison sentence.
The judge came under harsh criticism for her actions…but the prosecutor said, “Everything changed in the courtroom after Brandt’s testimony and the judges actions…those who seemed to want an “eye for an eye” respected Brandt’s wishes. There were a lot of tears.”
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life seems fair. When Jesus said, “You have heard this said,” He’s talking about the Mosaic Law. God’s people had a lot of rules to follow…all these rules were designed by God to honor His holiness…and to keep the Israelites in line with His covenant. It made them distinctly different than all the nations that surrounded them. They worshipped One Holy God…and they were to be “obedient” in their relationship with Him.
But if one of His people broke the law and stole from His neighbor, or hit his co-worker in the mouth, or killed someone He was angry with…the law said, “He pays back what he stole plus interest, he gets a tooth knocked out too, He is put to death!
That’s what the law said, this is what Jesus’ audience has constantly heard in their lifetimes. So when Jesus says, “But I tell you don’t resist an evil person…if someone hits you, turn to them the other cheek…if someone sues you and takes your shirt, give them your coat as well…If a soldier makes you carry his stuff a mile (this was a Roman prerogative) carry it an extra mile…give when someone asks to borrow something.”
Mouths dropped open…murmurs began to fill the air. I promise you the word “what?” was heard through critical mouths. “That’s not fair…that’s not what the law says to do.”
Here’s the point:
I. IF PEOPLE WHO FOLLOW JESUS ARE NO DIFFERENT THAN ANYONE ELSE…WHAT IMPACT DO WE HAVE?
TobyMac buried his 21 year old son this past week. He's a Christian artist who started out with a group called DC Talk. He wrote an album called Jesus Freak in 1995. Its premise is that people who love and follow Jesus in this world will appear as freaks…because our lives are radically different than those who are in this world and of this world. The introduction to this album on the song “What If I Stumble” comes from Brennan Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel. He says,