‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

Matthew 5:38-42

By Pastor Jeremy

I don’t live a life where I often find myself being struck by “evildoers.” In fact, “evildoers” sounds like how you would describe Batman villains form the 1960’s TV show, and the slap should come with some sort of “Kapow” graphic flashing across your view. I suspect most of us are in a similar place. Sure, we no doubt know people who have done bad things. Some of us (lets be real all of us) have done things we, or others, might see as bad. But, as for true “evildoers” they are likely few and far between.

The reality of Jesus day wasn’t much different. Yes, there were those who did bad things, highway bandits, and Roman soldiers to who used their privilege to get others to carry their things for them. But mostly the bandits were not “evil” but desperate. They lived in a world with no real safety systems for people and it was very easy to find yourself in very desperate situations.  And, as it is often remarked, desperate people do desperate things. This isn’t me downplaying the harm to others that was done. Far from it. This also isn’t me saying there shouldn’t be accountability for those who cross ethical lines. I don’t think that is what Jesus is on about either.

The core of Jesus message is about his willingness to go the extra mile for us. A mile that we see in this season of Lent will take him to a cross on a hill. None of us deserved what he did and neither did those who stood on that hill with him. And yet, he did it all the same. Why? Because even the seemingly logical proportional response of “an eye for an eye” only perpetuates a cycle. A cycle where eventually everyone is left blind. Jesus wanted to break that cycle, and he did so not with overwhelming force, but instead overwhelming service. Then, he asked us to do the same.