Far too many of us never study the Bible and this is the reason we are ignorant of Biblical Truth and question expositional teaching because we don’t know what the Bible says. Then equally problematic is the fact that we might read the Bible and take our translation (in my case, English) literally. This is why it is fundamental to have a pastor teacher you sit under who studies the Word of God to understand what the original languages (Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic) are declaring in the passage he is preaching from. Otherwise he will not be explaining the Word of God … rather he will be deciding what he wants the passage to say. We label this as superimposing personal thoughts and ideas upon the Word to make it say whatever the person wants it to say. This is the main reason we have so many different “interpretations” and “explanations” when it comes to the Bible. Our text is:
Mt 5:38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
Yesterday we saw how important accurate interpretation is. Before we look at the rest of the passage let’s remember the following …
1) Studying the Bible diligently might not mean understanding. Jesus rebuked the Jew by saying:
Jn 5:39 “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
Their spiritual eyes had blinkers on. They only saw in the Bible what they wanted to see … that is why they could not get it that He, Jesus was the Messiah. Before He rebuked them we find:
Jn 5:16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. 17 Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” 18 For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
They were so blind they wanted to kill Messiah … and they eventually did on the Cross. To study the Bible, your first and foremost issue to understand is that it is all about Jesus.
(2) Handle the Bible and its teaching correctly.
2 Tim 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
Although this passage was written to young Timothy, because all Scripture is for all God’s people, it applies to us too. The idea here is that not just to our hearers, but before God, we want to work with His precious Word in such a manner that we will never be ashamed.
(3) Examine the Bible.
Ac 17:11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
The onus is on you and me to not just listen to a sermon but to check the content against the Bible. The Berean example is an important one for all of life. Let us complete the passage with these thoughts in our minds.
3) Going the extra mile.
Mt 5:41 “If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”
The term “go one mile” is a technical term for being compelled to do government service of some type or the other. The government could take possession of or control of animals for the delivery of official mail. They could insist that people and animals carry loads of between 27 to 36 kilograms. The Jews hated this form of exploitation by the Roman Government and Military. A typical example is
Mt 27:32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.
Jesus says that instead of one mile (a Roman Military measurement, not necessary distance), go two miles! Give the hated Roman Government and Military twice what they expect and ask for. “Caesar” required we surrender to a mile of service. Jesus wants His people to meet oppression from the government or any other source with kindness! Here we take “power” back by being extra generous and kind. Again, I wonder what those who demand justice will say to this! Here we need to consider being the Christian in the home. Are we lazy? Do we try to escape duties? Jesus wants us to offer more and do better. What about at work? Are we angered with a harsh, demanding boss? More work, work late, Saturday or Sunday duty? Christians work harder and better because God wants us to be His witness in the Market Place (see Ephesians 6:5-8).
4) Giving and lending.
Mt 5:42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
This verse implies that some have more than others.
(1) Let’s get a myth out of the way. Jesus is not telling you to give or lend to the person who wastes money on luxury, pleasure and addictive substances … nor is He telling you to support the beggar at the street corner who will not work or uses what he receives for drugs or alcohol.
(2) What Jesus requires of His people who are able is to assist the needy within the Gospel Community is, no string attached. Whether it was in Jesus’ day or today, the lender is always the one in the power seat. Our Lord wants us to reverse that concept by not wielding power over the recipient … “remember I helped you” … or over the lender … “you owe me”. The concept of communism in its spiritual shape in Biblical!
Ac 2:44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
No … this does not mean you sell your assets and give the proceeds to the poor. It means that if and when you are able, help those in need within the Gospel Community. Share what you can to ensure that there are no needy people within God’s Household. Another way of saying this is … “live on less and give away more”. So, when Jesus said … Do not resist an evil person … He was not saying “be a sadist”. He was saying “be Gospel”. Take the power back by being Christian … be a testimony to the Reality and Truth of Jesus.
Lord, graciously forgive me for being so consumed with myself. Help me to see the needs around me to assist others where I can. Help me too, to be a better citizen as a believer so that You will be pleased with me. Amen.