Summary: God is honored, and His glory proclaimed, when we go above and beyond what the world expects. Jesus challenges all of us to live life as "second mile marathoners." Are you up to the challenge?
The Second Mile Marathon - Matthew 5:38-42 - February 5, 2012
Series: Kingdom Life – A World Turned Upside Down #16
One summer evening in Broken Bow, Nebraska, a weary truck driver pulled his rig into an all-night truck stop. He was tired and hungry. The waitress had just served him his meal when three tough looking, leather jacketed motorcyclists – the biker gang type - decided to give him a hard time. Not only did they verbally abuse him, but one grabbed the hamburger off of his plate, another took a handful of his french fries, and the third picked up his coffee and began to drink it.
Now let me ask you this: What would you do, if that had been you? How would you respond if you found yourself in that situation? I’m sure we can all think of things that we may have wanted to do in those moments, but I wonder what we would have really done had that happened to us? Well, this trucker did not respond as one might expect. He did not start swinging his fists or slinging insults. Instead, he calmly rose, picked up his bill, walked over to the waitress, paid what he owed, and walked out the door - all without saying a word. The waitress followed him to put the money in the till and stood watching out the door as the big truck drove away into the night.
When she returned, one of the motorcyclists said to her, “Well, he’s not much of a man, is he?” She replied, “I don’t know about that, but he sure isn’t much of a truck driver. He just ran over three motorcycles on his way out of the parking lot.” (Adapted from, Going The Extra Mile, by Jeffery Anselmi, www. sermoncentral.com)
Now we laugh at that in part because we are rooting for the truck driver. We like to see the bully get what he deserves, we long to see the underdog rise up and make things right. We’ve all been in that place where we have been insulted, or unfairly treated, bullied or humiliated, or when that which is rightfully ours has been taken from us. And in those times you may have reacted differently than the person sitting beside you this morning, but I can almost guarantee that, along with the grief, and the sorrow, and the humiliation that you might have been experiencing, that there also arose within you a burning desire to get even and to pay back the person who had wronged you.
Some of you will be familiar with the feud that existed between the Hatfield and McCoy families back in the late 1800’s. It started with a dispute over the ownership of a pig and lasted for more than a decade. By the time it was over a dozen members of the two families had been murdered and another ten wounded including women and children. That desire to get even led to great heartache and tragedy.
We shake our heads in wonder and yet, “Don’t get mad, get even,” is still the mantra of our society today – and not just “get even” but take it one step farther and “get ahead.” Go one step beyond what that person has done to you so that they learn not to mess with you again. Make them suffer for the hurt they’ve brought into your life and hopefully there won’t be a next time.
This is an attitude of the heart that the people of Jesus’ day could relate to as well. Open your Bibles with me please to the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew, chapter 5, beginning in verse 38. Earlier in this chapter Jesus speaks some words which are difficult for us to hear. He says, that unless our righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees, and the teachers of the Law, that we will certainly not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (5:20) He goes on to give the people six examples of what that greater righteousness looks like and this morning we are looking at the fifth of those examples. So let’s see what the Lord says. Verse 38 …
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38–42, NIV)
Again, Jesus starts out with what the people know, with what they have been taught. The Law of Moses stated that the punishment must fit the crime. So if someone struck you and knocked out a tooth, the most that could be demanded of them was a tooth of their own. You couldn’t demand than an arm be broken or a hand be cut off. The Law was, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” This was the rule for the courts to make sure that justice was implemented and that vengeance was taken out of the hand of the individual. The idea was to protect against vigilantism and the type of frontier justice that we see in the feud between the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s.