You have heard . . But I say; Turn the other cheek. Matt. 5: 38-42
October 19, 2014 Series: The Gospel of Matthew
Topic: Sunday AM Passage: Matthew 5:38–5:42
38“You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ 39“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. 40“If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. 41“Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42“Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
This is number 5 of 6 comparisons of Kingdom life with established religion in Matthew 5. You have heard it said . . , but I say. Jesus keeps exposing His hearers sin. He wants them to understand their spiritual bankruptcy and cry out to their Heavenly Father for mercy .
Jesus doesn't have to say, "Thus saith the Lord" like the prophets. He IS the Lord of the book. It's like an author saying, you might have heard someone said this about what I said in my book, but here's what I meant when I wrote it.
Authority of author, first party, as opposed to all second party opinions.
And as we've seen over and over, the second party folk, the scribes and pharisees, leaders in Israel, had gone off the tracks.
Also, do not think the authority with which He speaks is lost on them. "But I Say". They're standing there saying to themselves, 'who made you the 4rth person in the trinity'? Who do you think you are? They understood His claim of authority . . and rejected it. This is the very thing they would murder Him over. He claimed equal authority with God.
I know you all came this morning to see what Mr. literal principal of interpretation was going to say about this! You may go home surprised.
This is some counter-intuitive stuff, isn't it! This is downright radical. What do we do with this??
Who loves Clint Eastwood movies? There is something in us that will wait out a 2 hour movie because we know that revenge scene is coming. "Did I shoot 5, or did I shoot 6? Tell you the truth, I lost count myself . . ." and we're sitting there thinking, grind him to powder. He deserves it.
Something in us loves revenge. And it's largely very fallen. Because we certainly don't want God's vengeance on us for what we really deserve. What we've got coming. And we don't want revenge for any Godly reason either. We have this base desire to get even. Gang warfare.
But we love it when some guy with a California plate zooms around us on Main St. and we think to ourselves, where's a cop? And then we look in the mirror, and here comes justice, with the lights flashing, and we think, right on! Teach you to speed in my town. Then 5 minutes later I'll look down and I'm the guy doing 38 in the 25 zone.
An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.
This is sometimes referred to as lex talionis. Lex being law, and talion is the root for our word, retaliation. Thus the law of retaliation. This is found 3 or 4 times in the Old Testament, and even outside the O. T. in Hammurabi's Code.
As kids, we think it means, you punched me once so I'm going to punch you twice. And you can see that if left up to us, it would escalate into gang warfare real quickly.
But the law actually is merciful as it restricts retaliation to the law of a 3rd party, and the repayment is equal to the offense, not more than. The rule of law, and the order it brings to society is based here.
In just a few words, Jesus has captured the basis of order among fallen human beings. Not only is there restoration for loss and harm suffered, there is within these few words, all of our rights.
Within this law, each person has certain expectations. My stuff is mine. You may not take it away from me. If somehow you do, the law will require you to make restoration to me.
This one law, turns a free for all, where the guy with the biggest gun gets all my stuff and kills me while he's at it, into an ordered society, where, if I work with my hands, I can gather what's necessary for the comfort and thriving of myself and my family.
What our current society has lost track of and gone off the rails over is a basic disagreement over the human condition in the first place.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful, above all things, and desperately wicked.
Men are wicked. In our fallen state, if left to ourselves, we degenerate into gang warfare, quickly. That was the biblical world view that our society and civilization was built on. Men are basically evil. Order comes from that baseline. We need someone with a sword, to keep us in check.
But, now we've jettisoned God, and His book, and a new world view that does not have any category for evil is in charge, and guess what. The world is coming unraveled before our eyes. It took this president 6 years, to even say the word, "evil" and even then, he doesn't have any buy in. He doesn't believe it.
So the biblical world view is: men are evil. Eye for eye. Tooth for tooth. Each man has property rights guaranteed by some sort of government with authority to keep things in check. There is equity, dignity, honor among thieves, overseen by a man with a sword. I give you Duane Downing. Everyone in this room should thank him.
Therefore, if I back into your fender, you don't get a new car. Theoretically you could back into my fender and we'd be even steven, but that just makes the body shop rich. So what happens is I render money = to the repair of your fender. Equal, not more, not less.
The train has gone off the tracks though when a lady gets 2.86 million dollars over coffee spilled in her lap. That is blatant dis-regard for the biblical view, and once we go there, we're on our way to coming unraveled.
So, that's the basis for a lot of our law, and it's quite sound if you try to stick to some common sense. It's a good law, and still in effect. I suffer harm, there's nothing wrong with seeking some compensation roughly equal to my loss.
Our society is based on those individual rights. And our constitution is written to guarantee us certain rights of dignity, security, liberty, and property.
In a fallen world, that's a really good thing. Somebody's looking out for me and I can have certain expectations of some rights in those 4 areas, guaranteed.
We live in a unique time in the christian era. You can trace our freedoms and indeed western civilization to the end of the dark ages when the Bible began to be translated so that everyone could read and understand it. Order and civilization begin with this book. This world view.
The english bible and the german bibles translated in the 1500's brought us the civilized world that we're still struggling to hang onto the last vestiges of.
Eye 4 eye and tooth 4 tooth is a fair approach for sinful men as long as it is done by 3rd party law. Without it we degenerate into gang warfare. Jesus isn't saying it's bad.
What He is saying is, when you sign up for my kingdom, when you come out of Satan's kingdom of this world and become a child of the Kingdom of God, you give up your rights.
In Satan's kingdom it's all about me me me. My rights. My pound of flesh. My property. My dignity. My freedoms.
In God's kingdom, it's not about you any more. It's about the glory of God.
Paul, talks about setting his rights aside;
1Cor9:1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? and then he says; vs. 4Do we not have a right to eat and drink? 5Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? 6Or do only Barnabas and I not have a right to refrain from working?
More rights; 7Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?
More rights again; vs 11If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12If others share the right over you, do we not more?
Then the conclusion to his argument; Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ.
Paul gives up rights even sons of the kingdom can expect and claim and keep, so that the gospel will not be hindered.
Paul says similar things to Timothy. We give up our personal rights and expectations in order to benefit the Kingdom of God.
1Tim2 3Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. Soldiers leave their rights at home, in civilian life vs8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, 9for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. 10For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.
Paul says, I set my rights aside. I suffer hardship. I've gone to prison. I endure all these things - why? So that the elect may obtain salvation. The Gospel. The Kingdom.
We don't sing "Onward christian soldiers" any more, do we. We think God's up in heaven for the sole purpose of giving us a full and happy life. Obviously, it's all about us.
We sing modern choruses where every 3rd word is either I, me, or my. (I'm not picking on you Ted. We do sing excellent songs here. Thank you!) But the church in America is in a different place, now. Onward Christian Soldiers doesn't fit us any more in American evangelicalism. In fact it might get us branded as politically incorrect.
So with that mindset, let's look at what Jesus says here and see if He's saying we need to become rugs to get trodden under foot, doormats, or does He mean something else.
I have to say, of the folks I listened to and books I read, no one went where I'm going to go with this passage. Interesting.
And I think the reason for that is because we've had it so good, for so long, in America the beautiful, that we're totally blind sided to the ideas I'm going to put forth.
See what you think. Buyer's beware.
39“But I say to you, do not resist an evil person;
Stop right there. Because I think that's a key to what Jesus is telling us about Kingdom rights as opposed to Satan's world rights.
This is something that's almost completely foreign to us in these United States of America, with her 200+ years of a religious freedom that held christians of every sort in high esteem.
But the reason we're blind sided by this, is because we're the anomaly, and that's all we've ever known.
If you read church history though, what the christians in Syria and Iran are experiencing is more normative than our experience.
Persecution and mis-treatment for the name of Jesus has been ongoing for 2000 years. That's what's normal, not what we've enjoyed in America.
And that's who Jesus is talking to here.
When you embrace Jesus as King, and come out of Satan's kingdom, into God's kingdom, what Jesus talks about here, is more normative than our experience. Religious freedom is the anomaly. This is the norm for christians everywhere besides here, mostly, for 2000 years.
It's normal to be hated. It's normal to lose your dignity. It's normal to lose your security. It's normal to lose your liberty, and it's normal to have your property taken away from you. For the glory of the Kingdom of Jesus.
You say, get real. This is America! That'll never happen here! You're just an alarmist Jim.
I hope you're right. I do! But a lesbian mayor in Houston Texas this week, used the courts to subpoena a whole bunch of the evangelical pastors in that city to provide her with the content of their sermons so that she could decide if any hate crimes have been committed.
If they refuse, and all of them have so far, they can be held in contempt of court and fined, and possibly imprisoned.
according to the Houston Chronicle; The subpoenas sought “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession,”
HERO is Houston Equal Rights Ordinance which is full of mischief regarding sexual deviance of every sort, and punishment for anyone who opposes same. If a man with man parts, decides in his troubled mind he's a woman, it's illegal to not allow him the use of the Ladies restroom. That sort of insanity. And worse.
The Houston pastors formed a coalition to challenge it, legally. They preached against sexual immorality from a biblical understanding. So now, those sermons are considered evidence in the mayors discovery in this court case.
The mayor says any such preaching is using the pulpit for political purposes and should result in tax exempt status being revoked.
Religious News Service, in an article dated Oct. 14th quoted; The issue has angered evangelicals nationwide, prompting outcry from people such as Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
“The separation of church and state means that we will render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and we will,” Moore wrote. “But the preaching of the church of God does not belong to Caesar, and we will not hand it over to him. Not now. Not ever.”
Incrementalism. We'll win this one. I think. Maybe the next one. But this barrage will keep right on coming, and coming, and coming. Satan is relentless.
Incrementalism; a couple of more headlines, these from last week's New York Times.
Supreme Court Delivers Tacit Win to Gay Marriage, New York Times (Adam Liptak)
By refusing to hear cases where governments have overturned what their citizens have clearly voted for and against, the court has sent a clear message. Gay marriage can not be challenged at the highest court in the USA. It doesn't matter what the people wanted and voted for. Another headline;
Pedophilia: A Disorder, Not a Crime, The New York Times (Margo Kaplan)
Little by little, the erosion has become a tidal wave in this land.
How long before open persecution of christians breaks out in our land?
So, I see my job as someone who needs to try to prepare you for the worst. Let's hope it doesn't come. But let's take some due diligence and count the cost that ordinary christians have been paying for centuries. Now.
With that in view, I want to spend a couple of minutes looking at scenario's both good and bad. Windows from scripture of people who have walked this road that Jesus is describing here on the Sermon on the Mount
The first one I want to look at is Peter, and Jesus. This is the garden scene as the soldiers come to arrest Jesus and take him away. Jesus operates exactly as He has described here in Matthew 5. Peter does not.
Mt. 26:48 Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him.” 49Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. 50And Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you have come for.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him.
Jesus is other-worldly as He sets this example for us. He's a kingdom person, above and even removed from Satan's world that presses in around Him. Perfectly calm. He calls Judas 'friend'
Before this is over, we'll see Him struck on the face. We'll see Him lose his stuff, lose His dignity, lose His freedom. And it's like He's floating above this world. A lamb led to slaughter, but he's above the fray. He's Kingdom of God, in a scenario where kingdom of Satan has been allowed to cause havoc.
But, moving on, there's Peter; 51And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear.
Trust me, Peter wasn't going for his ear. He's just a bad shot. Peter's reverted to eye for eye, gone gang warfare. He isn't Kingdom of God serene in kingdom of Satan temporarily winning. He's definitely not in the place Jesus describes in our passage this morning.
52Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.
The Kingdom of God doesn't win over the kingdom of Satan with swords and clubs. That may be the most important thing I've said this morning. I'll say it again. The Kingdom of God doesn't win over the kingdom of Satan with swords and clubs.
Put the sword away Peter. This is hard for us. It takes otherworldly faith to operate Kingdom of God. When this comes, we leave ordinary faith behind, and we operate in Radical Faith. Are we ready?
53“Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? This is massive Power under control. One angel killed 183,000 men. There may be 40 here. Maybe 100. Roman soldiers.
At one point, Jesus just speaks . . and all the soldiers fall down like so much wheat grass in a wind. Just His words. Never a man spoke, like this man. Just His words knocks them down like dominos. Twelve legions of angels could kill every man on earth. That's the power that's on tap. Available. But not in the sovereign plan. Not now.
Peter had heard Jesus words on the sermon on the mount, but he doesn't get it yet. Kingdom people don't accomplish Kingdom work, with swords and clubs.
Peter eventually gets it though. Let me read you a passage from John's gospel, about Peter. This is Jesus restoring Peter after his great failure on the night of Jesus betrayal and arrest.
Jn. 21:17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Tend My sheep. 18"Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go." 19Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me!"
Follow me. Those are radical words. If you do that. If you follow Him. You may find yourself stretching out your hands. When you are old, you will be led.... and Peter will die on a cross, upside down, because he says he isn't worthy to die like his beloved saviour. Follow me.
Paul. The scene is before Ananias. Chief Priest in Israel. And the SanHedrin. The 70 elders who rule. A small riot has been caused by jewish agitators and Paul has been taken into custody. The romans say, we can't just hold this guy with no formal charges. So they go before the Jewish council.
This is drama, better than any you'll find on TV. But this is real. It really happened. And it may happen to you, if you Follow Jesus.
Acts 23:1 Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, “Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.” 2The high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth.
Sound familiar? A strike on the mouth is a universal sign between humans. You are trash. You have no dignity. It gets your attention! And it short circuits the brain. That pain causes fire. Anger!
3Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?”
Paul loses it just for a moment here. Bam! Burning anger! Hard to control, especially when Satan's behind it and the hypocrisy of the situation is just wrong. Evil.
4But the bystanders said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?” 5And Paul said, “I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT SPEAK EVIL OF A RULER OF YOUR PEOPLE.’”
See how quickly Paul reels it back in. That would be tough. But Jesus said,
but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40“If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. 41“Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42“Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
This is an interesting time to live. We see our religious leaders, the most repected in evangelicalism, men like Russell Moore who I hold in highest esteem, challenging evil and using every avenue available to us to do that.
And that's the right thing to do. Jesus here, is not telling us, don't push back.
For goodness sake, He just got done telling us we're salt and light. We don't roll over for evil and just let it happen. We don't stand by and do nothing when a Hitler slaughters Jews, or Roe v Wade slaughters unborn infants.
We need to be in evil's face.
But, when that day comes, like it did for Peter, and Paul, and so many others before us, when they clamp restraints on your arms and lead you away. They slap your face. They take away your stuff. They take away your freedom to move about as you please; that's the price we may have to pay, in order to be in God's kingdom.
I can't help but return, again, to a passage that I believe will become familiar to us. I think we'll be here often. Turn with me to Hebrews, chapter 10, and see if what the writer of Hebrews describes here isn't a good fit with what Jesus describes in our passage before us, on the mount.
Heb. 10:32 But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, 33partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. 34For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. 35Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
Some day we'll spend hours in there. There's so much for us, and we need to put these things away in our storage banks so the deposit is there, later, if we need to draw it out.
But I want you to quickly see what a generation of christians who preceeded us, experienced. We need to take careful heed, so when the ordeal encompasses us, we can face it, just as Jesus described, and just as these folks did.
Great conflict of sufferings. Made a public spectacle. Reproaches. Tribulations. They were incarcerated. Their property was confiscated. They watched their stuff being taken from them, joyfully. They went to prison.
Notice what a good fit, the last line in our passage this morning; 42“Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you....seems to fit with this passage, where the ones who didn't go to prison, go and visit the ones in prison. Then they're out of the closet, so to speak, and their stuff gets taken away too.
Why would anybody do that?
2 things, in the Hebrews passage, and a 3rd.
See it in verse 34; For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.
They did it because of radical faith. In the words of this book. They knew they were of a different Kingdom in a different realm, and this worlds possessions could be given up, joyfully, to be replaced with a better possession. A lasting one!
Then, do you see it in vs. 36? For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the . . what? . . the will of God, you may receive what was promised
God is sovereign over all of it. Satan may get the upper hand, and it may look like he's winning, in the moment. None of it happens outside the will of God.
37FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE,
HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY.
38BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH;
AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.
39But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.
Those are ominous words. We're in a weird place. Ease. Comfort. Plenty. Religious freedoms. Rights that are protected. A country designed to allow christians to thrive.
Has the legacy of that situation left us in a drunken stupor? Are we all laying around in a sugar coma, and a tidal wave 16 feet high is about to burst in on us? Or am I just using sensationalism to needlessly stir you up?
Those words in Hebrews haunt me.
38BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.
39But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.
I don't want to be found in Vs. 38. Shrinking back. I want to be in Vs. 39. with overcoming faith. And I want you all to be there with me.
For now, and for as long as we can, we'll push back against evil. But when the day comes, and evil is in temporary control, and they come for me with the silver matching bracelets, I want to be ready to live like a kingdom person, as described by Jesus, here in Matthew 5, and as lived out by Jesus, and other saints that went there first.
37FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE,
HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY.
More in The Gospel of Matthew
March 26, 2017The Authority and Commission of Jesus Mt. 28:16 - 20
March 19, 2017Jesus IS Alive! The Tomb is Empty Mt. 28: 1 - 15
March 12, 2017The Burial of Jesus Mt. 27:55 - 66 pt. 2