READ: Matthew 5:38-42
- Jesus continued the pattern established in this section of Matthew. He leads into His subject with “You have heard it said.” And they had. Repeatedly. Exodus 21:22-25. Leviticus 24:17-23. Deuteronomy 19:15-21. In each context, the law is casuistic (case law). It gives an example of a potential situation and then provides a means of giving a solution.
- Israel was familiar with this type of law. Casuistic law stood beside the apodictic laws. Most believers today assume all law is of the apodictic type—“Thou shalt not…” However, there are far more casuistic laws than apodictic. The law didn’t prescribe a right and wrong response to every possible scenario. That would be impossible. Instead, the law provided case studies and those case studies gave precedent and instruction in how to respond to any situation.
- This particular paragraph in the teaching of Jesus provides a helpful example of how this approach can be helpful. We don’t need “thus says the Lord” statements for all of life. We need to see principles that we can apply as times and circumstances change. In some ways, that’s what the law was that Jesus cites. It was an example of what kinds of responses were legitimate to make. While it sounded like a mandate, it was also a limitation. Responding justly meant responding without escalation.
- How comfortable are you with not having specific laws for each situation?
- In what situations have you applied the principle of an “eye for an eye”?
- How do these laws act as limitations?
PRAY: Thank God for providing guidance in how to handle conflicts. Pray for the ability to wisely apply the principles of just response. Ask God to help us learn to live in healthy relationships.