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Matthew 5:38-42

Responding Radically Well

  • Samuel Wilson
  • Weekend Messages
  • July 22, 2018

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Responding Radically Well

Matthew 5:38-42

Intro: A walk to remember.

To His followers, Jesus had given a radical statement in Matthew 5:20, when He said; “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” That radical statement, was only matched by the six examples that followed and were filled with how to live and respond to situations radically well.

The scribes and Pharisees were regarded as the standard for righteousness in that day, however, the rabbinic tradition and what the Pharisees and scribes were adhering to; fulfilled the purposes of men but fell short of the purposes or intent of God.

Jesus began applying a deeper level of righteousness to various parts on the law and life. This morning, we continue with a fifth illustration which is centered on how His followers are to respond in the world, when they are wronged.

Read: Matthew 5:38-42

  • When people hurt us, generally, our first response is to get even or settle the score. To find a way to make them feel the way they’ve made us feel. To even the tide on the pain, the hurt, the embarrassment, or the loss of dignity. 

I. Find a Better Way

Matthew 5:38, You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you…

  • This scripture, is found in the Old Testament in multiple places.
  • What it represented to those hearing it was the principle of Lex talionis or “law of retaliation,” which is an ancient law code. It required that the punishment of a crime match the crime itself. 
  • The same idea is carried through in expressions today such as tit for tat (equivalent retaliation) and quid pro quo (something for something). 

Exodus 21:23-24, Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

Leviticus 24:19-20, If a man injures his neighbor, just as he has done, so it shall be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; just as he has injured a man, so it shall be inflicted on him.

Deuteronomy 19:21, Thus you shall show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

  • In each biblical account, this law was to be used in the civil justice system, to assist judges with a formula for dealing with a crime.
  • The purpose was to make the punishment fit the crime.
  • It was used as a means to stop further crime by others who see the punishment. (Deut. 19:20)
  • It was also used to prevent excessive punishment based on personal vengeance or retaliation. The punishment would be neither too strict or too lenient. 
  • Jesus was calling out this particular law because it was being wrongly applied.
  • Instead of its intended use in civil court, the scribes and Pharisees applied this law to personal relationships.
  • Essentially, each person was permitted to become their own jury, judge and/or executioner.
  • The misinterpreted law therefore gave way to personal revenge and the individual interpretation of an equal punishment. 

Illus. Hit me and I’ll hit you back.

  • People were taking matters into their own hands, seeking retaliation and retribution, with interest.
  • Jesus said, I know you have heard this taught and may be used to this way of settling things, but I am here to show you a better way…With a better goal.
  • When looking for a way to respond to an offence, or, in the event you are wronged. 

A.Put God before your response

Matthew 5:39, But I say to you, do not resist an evil person…

  • It is important to note what is being said by the word resist. It does not mean to allow evil to take its course, or, for the person to roll over and play dead.
  • The word “resist” means to “set oneself against or to set against.”
  • “Resist” then, is referring to revenge: do not take revenge on, and do not set yourself against that person in a vengeful way.
  • Simply, don’t respond to being wronged by doing wrong. Two wrongs aren’t going to make this right.
  • If God is before your response, you will respond differently, in a righteous way.
  • After saying do not set yourself against an evil person, Jesus gives four real examples to illustrate just what He means. 

Matthew 5:39, “But whoever slaps you on your right check, turn the other to him also.”

  • “A slap on the right cheek” was literally a blow from the back of someone’s hand.
  • A person who slapped another in this fashion was giving a great insult which was punishable by a heavy fine. It was more than a physical attack, it was a deep insult.
  • Most would want to retaliate, hit them back, or have them punished in court, but Jesus points toward a radical response…Turn the other cheek.
  • Jesus is pointing more toward what we are not to do than toward what we are to do. 
  • Turning the other cheek is a non-avenging, non-retaliating decision to respond in the way Jesus would have you respond.

1 Peter 2:23, While being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.

  • Jesus modeled this personally and has given us an example to follow, they are big shoes to fill, but we are putting the Lord first and choosing to respond the way He would.

Illus. In my father’s footsteps.

  • I want to fight back! I was wronged you might say.... Jesus says, turn the other cheek, there is a bigger battle going on. 

Matthew 5:40, “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.”

  • Next illustration is of a court room. When a person had no money or other possessions, the court could require a payment of one’s clothing.
  • The shirt mentioned here is similar to an undershirt, and the coat was an outer garment, used as a blanket at night, to carry things, as a pledge for debt, a pad to sit on, and clothing.
  • A person’s outer coat could not legally be taken from them or seized by the court (Exodus 22:26, Deuteronomy 24:13).
  • Jesus is not talking about a person being robbed, but, when there is a legitimate claim to what you have.
  • If your sued for the shirt off your back, give more than is asked with the hope of showing the love of Christ.
  • More important than possessions, is one’s position before the Lord, true for you, true for those who come against you.
  • If a person is suing you for your shirt, give them what they can’t sue for, give them your cloak.
  • Find an opportunity to let God win by your response. 

1 Peter 3:9, Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

A.Look for an opportunity to bless

  • Jesus continues the theme of giving more than you are required. 

Matthew 5:41, “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.”

  • At that time, Judea was under Roman military occupation. 
  • Roman law gave a soldier the right to force a civilian to carry his pack for one mile, but only for one mile.
  • This law caused great inconvenience to civilians. It didn’t matter what the civilian was doing or where they were going, a Roman soldier could come and interrupt their day, forcing them to carry their equipment and walk with them for a mile.
  • It was embarrassing, inconvenient, and cause for greater hate toward Roman soldiers. 

Matthew 27:32, As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.

  • Here Jesus says to His followers, “go beyond the mile required by law and give another mile out of a free choice of love.”
  • Look for a way to repay evil with blessing. Don’t retaliate, don’t seek vengeance, bring about a blessing.
  • There were options to fight (Sicarii), options to anger and vengeance, Jesus says, go the extra mile! 

Illus. The extra mile is a choice.

Matthew 5:42, “Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.”

  • When a person has a genuine need, and we have the opportunity to give. Jesus would have us be generous. 

1 John 3:17, But whoever has the world’s good, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?

  • Jesus is not encouraging us to lay aside our discernment and become easy marks for those who do not want to work. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 makes it clear that those not willing to work are not to eat.

Proverbs 19:17, One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed.

  • This response requires great discernment and must be done out of a heart of love. The most loving way refrains from enabling what the Lord opposes. 

Illus. Did I give to the wrong recipient?

Illus. I need a place to sleep.

  • It is important to discern those situations.
  • Rather Jesus, as He has throughout is pointing toward the importance of loosely holding onto our rights or possessions and representing Christ well.
  • Don’t let an offense, a bad situation, your liberty, or your property get in the way of your looking for an opportunity to bless another.

Romans 8:31, What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

Romans 12:17-21, Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends upon you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

When people offend, and you offend back, who wins? Choose to respond radically well.

Matthew 5:38-42 

“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.

 

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