Summary: The sixth message in a 7-Part Series, Shift - A New Way of Thinking. In Matthew 5:38-42, Jesus broadens His followers understanding of revenge.
The Rule of Revenge • Matthew 5:38-42
Opening Illustration: RevengeLady.com (the rules)
INTRODUCTION: Regardless of where a person is spiritually, everyone has a choice to make when they are WRONGED.
UNDERSTANDING THE CONTEXT…
These laws were PRESCRIPTIVE and equally RESTRICTIVE.
• Original intent was to eliminate intertribal warfare… prevent it from escalating… gang activity… initial act of violence was to be met with something in precisely the same degree… it’s the end of the matter… they were even…
• Also important to remember that this law was given to the Jewish ppl as a nation… law was not designed to be discharged by individuals who were caught up in personal paybacks but settled by the judiciary.
• By Jesus’ day… law was viewed as prescriptive but marginally restrictive…
QUESTION: How far may my PERSONAL RETALIATION extend, without breaking the law? They were consumed with the rule of revenge while Jesus challenged them to consider the rule of revenge.
• When this law is dragged into the personal arena, justice is rarely serviced… only bitterness, vengeance, malice, and hatred.
• Notice in his reply, Jesus did not contradict the principle of retribution. It’s a just and true principle.
• “Do not resist”… used in several places in Scripture… “anthistemi”
• We are not to resist God, his will Rom 9 , his truth 2 Tim 3 & 4, or his authority Rom 13.
• In this passage, what is Jesus saying? “to ponero” = the evil… masculine not neuter noun. Although we are to resist the evil one we are not to resist an evil person, one who is evil. No denying that he or she is evil… Jesus doesn’t condone their behavior… what He does not allow is retaliation… FOUR ILLUSTRATIONS
I. The illustration of personal INJURY. (v 39)
• THE INSULT – striking someone on the cheek always been a way to humiliate (Job 16). Notice Jesus specifies struck on right cheek. Detail. Indicates someone has been slapped w. back of hand. Height of insult.
• THE IMPULSE – eye for eye… tooth for tooth… I’ll show them… no one does that to me… or them and gets away w. it. Where’s justice? And we experience the rule of revenge, don’t we?
• THE INSTRUCTION - Not about passive resistance but overcoming our natural impulse to repay violence with violence. Disciples are to endure injury not inflict it.
II. The illustration of personal INJUSTICE. (v 40)
• THE PERSPECTIVE - “tunic” = long garment = modern dress or suit maybe… Follower of Jesus should give outer coat as well his outer garment (cloak) was recognized by Jew law to be an off-limits possession (Ex 22:20-27).
• Paul expands this idea that Christians will prefer to be wronged than enter into litigation (1 Cor 6)
• THE PURPOSE – Jesus not simply telling us to submit to injustice. His counsel to give the creditor all his clothes, changes the power of the relationship.
III. The illustration of personal INCONVENIENCE. (v 41)
• THE DEMAND… we know very little of this today culturally… an ordinary Roman soldier could legally demand a civilian to help him (i.e. Simon of Cyrene carry cross of Jesus) for a prescribed distance.
• THE DISTANCE… Jesus says if demanded to go one mile for anyone double it… go two… as Christ followers… transformed by His forgiveness and mercy and love at work in us we are not to feel put out and irritable in these cases as if personally inconvenienced. Jesus says accept it cheerfully… not begrudgingly…
IV. The illustration of personal INHIBITION. (v 42)
• EXPRESSION – GIVING TO THOSE IN NEED.. Jesus was not addressing the wisdom or foolishness of not being discerning in this area (see Prov for that wisdom). We must not have any inhibition…
• EXPECTATION – NOTHING IN RETURN. The burden of this passage is that Christ will not tolerate a tight-fisted, penny-pinching attitude which could be interpreted as a legalistic attitude of an eye for eye… For those transformed by the love of Christ, we must not ask ourselves what’s in it for me? What can I get out of it?
• Not about our rights… about a life of responsibility & reconciliation
• EXAMPLE – JOHN 3:16