Summary: Revenge comes from a heart of pride and is a terrible way to live life
“Your revenge blinds”
make 2 prescriptions:
Prescription #1: To make sure that justice is fair; i.e., the punishment matches the crime.
Prescription #2: To make sure that there would be no revenge at a personal level.
Jesus gives four little mini-scenarios to flesh out His point:
1st: If someone insults you, don’t insult back. V.39
2nd: Your stuff is not your stuff, so hold onto it loosely. V.40
3rd: If someone takes advantage of you, double their advantage. V.41
4th: If you can help, do so even if it hurts you. V.42
Why is this so hard for us to accept? It attacks our pride and vanity!
If we took the teachings of Jesus seriously, we’d see that:
The way of Jesus is places a higher value on
humility and suffering than revenge
Story of revenge
Matthew 5:38-42 (reference on screen)
For those of you visiting with us today, we have been in a series of messages from The Sermon on the Mount entitled ‘Perspectives.” As we studied this section of Scripture, we discovered that Jesus laid out 6 mind-boggling, jaw-dropping perspectives. He used the formula, “You have heard that it was said . . . but I tell you . . .” He did it to counteract the misunderstanding and the misrepresentation of the Scribes and Pharisees concerning the 10 commandments and other commands of Scripture. The Pharisees had fashioned the Laws so as to make them look righteous. They reasoned, “I haven’t murdered anyone, so I have not violated the standard, “You shall not murder. I haven’t had sex with someone other than my wife, so I haven’t violated the standard, “You shall not commit adultery.” But Jesus comes along and says, “Wait a minute. You’ve missed the whole point. If you’ve been angry with someone, you’ve violated the standard. If you’ve lusted after someone, you’ve violated the standard.” It was a whole new perspective. And adopting and living out these perspectives is what marks us as Christ-followers.
And this morning we come to the 5th of these remarkable perspectives. It may be one of the most difficult for us to accept because of what it requires.
Let’s read it together. Matthew 5:38-42 (passage on screens)
This phrase, “An eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth” is one of the most famous sayings in all of. It captures the emotion and sense of justice we feel with someone does something to hurt us or someone we love. If you take my eye, I’ll take yours. If you knock my tooth out, I’ll knock our yours. If you vote my candidate off Dancing with the Stars (pic) , I’ll vote yours off.
You find it in at least 3 places in the O.T.: Exodus 21, Leviticus, 24, and Deuteronomy 19. In those passages, God sets forth a system of justice for the Israelites to follow. Incidentally, our own judicial system is based on a similar set of codes. Specifically, these codes make 2 prescriptions:
Prescription #1: To make sure that justice is fair; i.e., the punishment matches the crime. If someone were to steal bread, the judge wouldn’t apply the death penalty; if someone beat a person, the judge wouldn’t just slap their hand.
Prescription #2: To make sure that there would be no revenge at a personal level. If a person was wronged, then the family might take out revenge in an exaggerated way. So of course the 1st family would have to retaliate for that retaliation and before long, a whole feud and blood-letting would occur. This is exactly what happened with the infamous Hatfield and McCoy feud where dozens of men, women, and children were killed in revenge raids between the two families.
Notice the phrase in v.39: “Don’t resist the evildoer.” That is a difficult teaching, isn’t it? Many of us have security alarms on our houses that repel evildoers, right? Some of us have guns or baseball bats under our beds to resist evildoers, right? Does Jesus intend that we not protect ourselves? Yes—and no!
Jesus gives four little mini-scenarios to flesh out His point.
1st: If someone insults you, don’t insult back. V.39 “If anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” In Eastern cultures to slap someone is the worst possible insult. Jesus said, “If someone insults you, don’t insult back.”
2nd: Your stuff is not your stuff, so hold onto it loosely. V.40 “As for the one who wants to sure you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well.” When I was younger, like jr. high age, I remember my younger brother taking one of my plastic airplanes that I had put together. Well, what did I do? I went and stole something out of his room. Then he stole something out of my room. I don’t remember where it ended up but what would have happened if when he stole that model airplane, I gave him another of my airplanes? Jesus says: “If someone takes something from you unjustly, don’t take something of theirs. Even better, give something extra.”