Note: This series is written as a first-person narrative in order to present Jesus in the context he walked with the unknown disciple that narrates presenting my thoughts and sparking more thoughts with his questions. Enjoy.
Did Jesus really just challenge an ancient rule?
“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.”
This is a widely known principle of equal justice that he’s challenging, though only in Israel does it apply across class lines. Social standing can’t protect you, even a king can be punished…
I thought for a moment…if anyone was brave enough…
Not only that, Jesus challenged fighting for your honor. He knows it is an insult to be backhanded across the face. You can actually take someone to court for it.
Yet Jesus is saying don’t retaliate…
Jesus had paused to let it sink in, then continued, “And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.”
“My coat!” a disciple exclaimed.
The Law says a creditor couldn’t legally take your coat, it may be all someone has. I’m not sure if it’s hyperbole, Jesus using an extreme to instruct us to cooperate above and beyond.
“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.”
Seriously…when a Roman soldier makes me lug his junk one mile, Jesus wants me to carry it another mile? They’re invaders, an occupying army! He wants us to voluntarily comply, why?
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Oh…hating your enemy did come from a few of King David’s Psalms according to a few Jewish groups. Loving my neighbor came straight from Leviticus.
Nonresistance wasn’t unheard of, some saying that if something that can be taken away, it didn’t matter. Yet, Jesus is going deeper, telling me to love my enemies so I can follow God’s example.
Even tax collectors and Gentiles, unclean as they are, do good for those connected to them. Jesus wants us to be and do more than they. To be perfect as God is perfect. No small thing…