“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” Matthew 5:38-42
As I read this passage earlier this morning, it struck me as odd that we don’t do these things. I’m convinced that these are some of those most simple and clear instructions in the Bible, and somehow we have invented a million reasons to disregard them. We are so unreasonable. I don’t have any of the arguments for taking this figuratively on hand, but they must somehow border on the perception that these demands are totally unreasonable.
There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s a difficult and scary thing to be sued by someone or accused of something (even unjustly) and paying them more than they asked for, heck, I wouldn’t do it. And if every time someone asked you to go out of your way to do something, who would really do twice as much, especially when you’re already exhausted? And it seems like a pretty bad idea to just give money away to everyone that asks, but didn’t Jesus just say to do it? I know you aren’t all that different from me, and you probably have that friend (I use that term loosely) who would ask you for money everyday if they could. In fact, all sorts of people would probably take advantage of us, right?!
It all seems to be absolutely unreasonable to ask all of this of us, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that Jesus isn’t afraid of making unreasonable demands:
While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. -Matthew 4:18-20
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. -Matthew 5:22
And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. -Matthew 7:2-3
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. -Matthew 10:37
I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. -Matthew 12:36
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. -Matthew 16:25
Et cetera, et cetera, you get it. The list could go on for days. The point is, Jesus demands a lot of stuff that seems really unreasonable, but I think that the problem is not with his standards, it’s with ours. I’m not gonna pretend I have this all figured out, but I know I’ll be held accountable to what I do know. Maybe there are some points where some Bible teachers and theologians can help me understand these commands better, or maybe I just need to do them. Probably both, something certainly needs to be done though.