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More Hard Teachings of Jesus – Promise Keeping, Retaliation, and Loving Enemies – Matt 5:33-48 PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Tsang   
Thursday, 14 June 2018 09:53

 

In the Old Testament story of the Exodus, which serves as a way for us to understand the Christian life, you will notice that the Law was given to Israel AFTER they were delivered and rescued from Egypt. The Ten Commandments were given not as a prerequisite for salvation but rather as a way to form this group of slaves into the covenant people of God. In the same manner, observing the commands, the re-giving of the Law, and the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, has no bearing on salvation. Obedience and observance of Jesus commands is best seen as a way to form us into the image of Christ – a way of discipleship.

 

Oaths (5:33-37) – the Rabbis developed a complicated system whereby if you swore an oath on the name of God, you were bound but if you swore an oath by ‘Jerusalem’ or ‘heaven’, you were not legally bound. They built in loopholes for vows and oaths. So Jesus simply said, “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Stay true to your word, be honest, and live with integrity especially in your business transactions.

 

 

Eye for Eye (5:38-42) – If you take a look at Exo 21:22-25, you will see that the spirit of the OT teaching is to set a fair compensation or an upper limit for personal injuries. This was not an endorsement of vigilante justice; nor was it an endorsement of capital punishment (as some have often misquoted). Jesus taught us not to seek retaliation. If someone persecutes you unjustly, resist non-violently and peacefully, and in so doing, you will expose his shameful actions and shine light on the darkness. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela are two prominent examples of peaceful resistance that exposed the evil of the adversary which resulted in progress.

 

Love your Enemies (5:43-48) – Finally, Jesus recaptured the spirit of the Old Testament (Lev 19:18, Exo 23:4-5, Prov 25:21, 24:17), which never taught us to hate our enemies (it was most likely passed on by Rabbis). Anyone can love someone who loves you but we are called to love and forgive our enemies. In this way, we are salt and light of the world. Jesus did not only re-interpret the Law in the Sermon on the Mount, he lived it. As the Roman soldiers led Him to the cross, Jesus never retaliated, and his peaceful resistance exposed their evil. Finally, Jesus asked the Father to forgive those who crucified Him (Luke 23:34). When the moment comes and we are confronted by an enemy, may God grant us the strength to follow Jesus’ example.

 

Peace and grace, John

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 June 2018 09:57