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Posts Tagged ‘Matthew 5:38-48’

LUKE 23:34

Image by April J. Gazmen via Flickr

The Sermon on the Mount challenges us with the kind of “unnatural” behavior God expects from citizens of the Kingdom. Here is a sermon that I wrote in March, 2002 about the challenge of turning the other cheek and loving the enemy.  2002, of course, followed 2001

Regarding the Enemy
A Sermon on Matthew 5:38-48
(With allusions to Ephesians 4:22-5:2 and Romans 12:9-21)

In those days, the name Jesus was a common name.  In fact, there is another Jesus in the gospels.  He appears during the trial of our Savior in Matthew 27, and his name is Jesus Barabbas.  Jesus Barabbas was a violent revolutionary, one of many who were bent on using any means necessary to force the Roman boot off the necks of the people of Palestine.

Under Roman occupation, Judeans, Galileans and all the rest of the people of Palestine bore a more painful tax burden than we Americans have ever experienced.  Roman soldiers were all about.  At any time they could force civilians to do some job for them, and there was no right to say no.  The Romans came down hard on any act of resistance.  Right around the time of our Savior Jesus’ birth, for example, a rebel broke into the Roman arsenal in Sepphoris, just a few miles from Jesus’ home town, Nazareth, and looted it to arm a band of revolutionaries.  The Romans destroyed the town and crucified two thousand Jews who had participated in the uprising (Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew, p. 60).

This didn’t deter the resistance movement one bit.  People hated the Romans, and many gave revolutionaries and even terrorists like Jesus Barabbas a sympathetic ear.  At the time of the arrest of Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus Barabbas was in prison for murder.

With that kind of history, with brutality so near, and with people’s hearts filled with pain and anger, how can Jesus of Nazareth even dare to suggest offering the other cheek, and going the second mile for the oppressor, and letting somebody have the shirt off your back as well as your coat, and loving and praying for the enemy?  Jesus, don’t you know that’s the way to get run over?  Are you telling us to cave in to evil?  Let the enemy get away with this? (more…)

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