Matthew 5:38-42 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.”
So far in Jesus’ revelation of surpassing righteousness He has revealed that God’s desire for His children in His kingdom is not that they keep from murdering but that they don’t allow anger to live in their hearts; it is not that He is satisfied when they keep themselves from committing the physical act of sexual sin but He desires that they recognize that lust is sexual sin in the heart and that the truth is not determined by being right but rather by being devoid of vanity. Our text this morning is another highly important one that like all of the Sermon on the Mount goes directly to the condition of our hearts. Often Jesus teaches us a principle and we begin thinking of scenarios in which the principle would be applied, usually allowing ourselves to discover scenarios in which we believe it would either be too difficult or even impossible for us to live out the principle as it was taught. I believe that we need to learn the principle in all of its purpose and context before we let our minds drift to places where it seems too difficult for us to bear. In today’s text Jesus teaches a principle or a truth and then He offers illustrations of that truth. When Jesus says turn the other cheek, give him your cloak, go two miles, give and lend He is not giving us a detailed list of regulations He is illustrating the truth that He is teaching. Most of the time, in this passage we have jumped over the principle so that we could get to the illustrations, today I am praying that we will open our hearts to the principle so that the illustrations can further reveal surpassing righteousness rather than giving us a list that we immediately question, doubt and sometimes, even reject. Jesus gives us four illustrations that we will talk about over the next two weeks but they all point back to something about our hearts, something that He desires to do in us and something that we have to learn to allow. Surpassing righteousness is not the sum of the illustrations. I hope that you will follow me through the Scriptures in this, but to begin, it’s not surpassing righteousness to simply be non-violent and turn the other cheek; it’s not surpassing righteousness to give more than is asked for if you are ever sued in a court of law; it’s not surpassing righteousness to fulfill your obligation double what is asked of you and it’s not surpassing righteousness to be quick to give money to those in need and lend money to those who could use a loan. Surpassing righteousness is found in a heart that does not demand retaliation, long for restitution or become offended to the point of resisting people, even evil people. The principal has to be applied to our hearts and then we can see the surpassing righteousness in the illustrations. Today we are going to attempt to tackle the call to put away resistance so that we can turn the other cheek rather than living easily offended.