READ: Matthew 5:38-42
- Jesus uses four common situations to illustrate his principle of non-retaliation. Being slapped is usually a challenge. Someone is intending to evoke a response that will result in a fight. Taking your tunic is asking you to give up something significant (your personal covering) to cover a debt. Carrying a pack was common. Roman soldiers would conscript citizens to make them carry their backpacks. Giving to a beggar was also common. People wanting to receive (sometimes a loan) from you when you know there’s no hope of repayment.
- Each case provides its own form of potential retaliation. You could strike back. Instead, Jesus says to turn the other cheek. In other words, don’t retaliate; don’t get drawn into a fight. Let them slap the other cheek instead. The tunic situation would mean going to court to protect your right to keep your garment. Instead, Jesus says give them more than they asked for, give them your coat too. If they give you a backpack…carry it two miles instead of one. Give…without thought of repayment or whether they deserve what you’re giving.
- In each case the response would be a surprise. It would not be the normal response of most human beings. Instead, it might clearly reflect the nature of the prayer Jesus has encouraged us to pray. “God, do for us what we do for others.” If we want God to respond to us with kindness, patience and generosity, then we are going to have to treat others with kindness, patience and generosity. We’re going to have to go against the cultural norms and do right instead of normal.
- What situations have you found yourself in that are similar to those Jesus suggests? What did you do in response?
- Why do you think Jesus calls for a non-retaliatory response? What does He hope that will achieve?
- How does this impact a believer’s views concerning pacifism?
PRAY: Pray that you can make appropriate responses in difficult situations. Ask God to help you be a peacemaker instead of causing situations to escalate. Pray that Madison Park can be a community of peace within the larger surrounding culture.