Thursday, April 19, 2012



Now Jesus comes to the last two illustrations comparing His teachings to what had already been taught. Both of these have to do with the ultimate expression of God's love. The first is about the issue of retaliation and brings us to SECRET #22: The follower of Jesus is not into retaliation, but sacrificial love.
Jesus says: "You have heard that it was said, `AN EYE FOR AN EYE AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.' But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you." (Matthew 5:38-42)

WOW! Now this is a tough one! Jesus now turns to His way of dealing with RETALIATION. This is one of the most commonly misunderstood concepts in Judaism. Ask most people and they will say that this has something to do with "retaliation in the Old Testament" versus "love and forgiveness in the New Testament." This isn't true. Judaism never interpreted it in this way. An "eye for an eye" had to do with providing for limited liability in matters of legal compensation. Jesus is teaching to go beyond the minimum required of you when you are wronged!

They were laws for civil courts to apply, but the scribes and Pharisees interpreted these statements to justify personal retribution and retaliation against their enemies. They used them to take matters into their own hands-REVENGE. However, the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ both teach that vengeance was to be left up to God.

Jesus taught two things here: 1. Do not resist an evil person. Not only should you not take vengeance into your own hands, but don't even oppose the evil person when the evil is being done.

2. Respond to evil by doing good. Turn the other cheek. Give more to the person suing you than what was asked. Respond to government oppression by offering to do more than what is demanded. Respond to those who ask for help by giving them what they ask.

NOTE in each case the principle is the same. We are not to resist the person who would mistreat us or who would try to deprive us of our possessions. Instead, respond in a positive manner to demonstrate the love of Jesus toward them by freely giving them more than they were hoping to gain by force, oppression or manipulation.

Joseph did this in forgiving his brothers and helping them later in life. David spared the life of Saul, who was out to kill him. Jesus, Himself is the primary example. Stephen while he was being stoned. Early believers who gladly received martyrdom and the plundering of their goods. Paul teaches that we are to scoot over and leave room for the wrath of God on those who are doing us evil, to overcome evil with good.

A modern day illustration of this expression of sacrificial love could certainly be Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi took this teaching of Jesus and did something very unique; He actually lived it out to its ultimate. By doing this Gandhi not only changed a nation, but made a lasting impact upon the world. He is still viewed as one who was most like Jesus ever.

I see this principle that is so contrary to "human nature" as one of the ultimate ways to fully trust Jesus to come through on our behalf. Maybe if we had the courage to actually have this kind of response, then Jesus might demonstrate Himself among us in a mighty and supernatural way. The next time you are mistreated in some way, take the challenge and look for ways to overcome evil with good. Then your "righteousness" will exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees.

It's like Jesus is saying, when a person attacks you externally, go deeper and respond to him from the heart with love (internally). If a person slaps you on the cheek, you know that this person must really be in a world of hurt to do that to you. The inner aching in his heart is much worse than a bruise on the cheek. So, hit me again if you must. But I'm going to show you the love of Jesus that you so greatly lack by my response to you!

Talk about spiritual revolution! Take on SECRET #22: The follower of Jesus is not into retaliation, but sacrificial love.