I. YE HAVE HEARD THAT IT HAS BEEN SAID, "AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH."
A. What does the law actually say?
If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart [from her], and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges [determine].
And if [any] mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,
Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him;
Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him [again].
Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you.
And thine eye shall not pity; [but] life [shall go] for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
1. The judgment should equal the crime.
2. The judgment should not exceed the crime.
B. What then was wrong in the way that they were teaching the law?
1. Let us look at the intent of the law. It was given to control excesses.
a. Within human nature is a desire for revenge, I do not want to just get even, I want to get more than my pound of flesh.
b. I want to get even plus.
c. The purpose of the law was restrictive. It was to keep someone who wants to get two eyes for an eye, two teeth for a tooth.
d. I want to hit back harder than I was hit.
2. These commandments were guides for the judges, notice in Exodus 21:22
it was said, "He shall pay what the judges determine."
a. It was not meant that men should take things into their hands.
b. It was not given to individuals, but as a guide for the judges.
c. The error of the teaching of the Pharisees was that they made it an individual matter. You were to take justice in your own hands.
d. They did not see it as restrictive, but as permission for an individual to take revenge.
e. It was taught as a duty to take revenge.
II. RULES FOR INTERPRETATION:
A. Never regard the Sermon on the mount, as a new law given to us by Jesus.
1. Jesus is emphasizing the spirit of the law.
a. Paul the Apostle considered himself blameless as far as the righteousness of the law was concerned.
b. When he came to the realization that the law was spiritual and he was carnal, Paul realized that he had never really kept the law.
2. Jesus is not laying down some code of ethics for us. He is going to show to us how vain it is to try to please God through the works of the law.
3. The whole thought is to bring us to grace.
B. If our interpretation makes the scriptures ridiculous and impossible then our interpretation is wrong.
C. If our interpretation makes the passage contradictory to the whole body of scripture, our interpretation is wrong.
III. WITH THAT IN MIND, LET US LOOK AT WHAT JESUS SAYS.
A. Resist not evil.
1. There are those who take this to mean that we are not to have any police departments. No Sheriff, no army. We should not seek to defend our family or nation.
a. They declare that this is to resist evil.
2. Looking at the whole body of scripture what are we taught?
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
3. This statement to resist not evil, is not for the nations, it is not for the world. You must go back to the beginning of the message and see who Jesus is addressing the message to. "And when His disciples came unto Him, He opened His mouth and taught them saying." This is for the disciples and not the world.
4. That means that those young men who sought to escape from the draft by reason of being a conscientious objector, they will not find the basis for it here.
5. The main thing that Jesus is teaching here is our attitude toward ourself. It is purely a personal thing, not a national issue.
a. "If he smites you on the cheek."
b. "If he sues you in court."
c. "If he compels you to go a mile."
d. The whole issue is death to self, and the self life.
6. The biggest problem we all face is self.
III. "BUT WHOSOEVER SHALL SMITE YOU ON YOUR RIGHT CHEEK, TURN TO HIM THE OTHER ALSO."
A. This comes to the heart of the matter of self. What is my natural reaction to someone smiting me on my right cheek. Strike back, hit him a little harder. Teach him a lesson. Self cries out for revenge, retaliation.
1. We see some interesting illustrations in the Old Testament.
a. The story of David and Saul.
Moreover, my father, see, yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that [there is] neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it.
The LORD judge between me and thee, and the LORD avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.
As saith the proverb of the ancients, Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.
After whom is the king of Israel come out? after whom dost thou pursue? after a dead dog, after a flea.
The LORD therefore be judge, and judge between me and thee, and see, and plead my cause, and deliver me out of thine hand.
b. In the very next chapter we see a reversal in the attitude of David in the case of Nabal. I Samuel 25:1-34
2. The proverbs of Solomon have some interesting things to say on the subject.
The beginning of strife [is as] when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.
Say not thou, I will recompense evil; [but] wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.
Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.
3. Three interesting prophecies concerning Jesus on the subject of being smitten on the cheek.
I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.
He giveth [his] cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach.
Now gather thyself in troops, O daughter of troops: he hath laid siege against us: they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek.
4. There is an interesting situation in the New Testament with Paul the Apostle.
And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men [and] brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.
And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.
Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, [thou] whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?
And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God's high priest?
Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.
5. There is another case with Paul. He and Silas had been beaten in Phillipi and placed in prison. The next day the magistrates sent a message to let them go free. Paul said,
But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast [us] into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out.
And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans.
And they came and besought them, and brought [them] out, and desired [them] to depart out of the city.
6. This again is dealing with my attitude toward insults or injustices done to me.
a. If some drunk should accost me, not even knowing me, I am not to just let him beat me up, he must be restrained.
b. If some person becomes a threat to my family, I am to defend my family.
c. If I see a child being abused, I am to step in and help the child.
IV. GOING THE SECOND MILE. YOU COULD BE COMPELLED TO GO ONE MILE.
A. We should have the attitude and spirit that causes us to go beyond the call of duty.
V. GIVE TO HIM THAT ASKS THEE.