Faithlife Sermons

Sermon on the Mount: Retaliation, Love of Neighbor, and the Way of Jesus

Sermon on the Mount  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  51:37
0 ratings
Matthew 5:17-20; 38-48 Retaliation, Love of Neighbor, and the Way of Jesus Introduction: If you’re joining us for the first time - Welcome! We’re currently teaching through Jesus’ most famous teaching known as the Sermon on the Mount. Contrary to what some may think the Sermon on the Mount is not teaching how to get into the kingdom of God- the Bible makes it clear that entrance to God’s kingdom is only through God’s gift of grace by the sacrificial work of Jesus. The sermon is also not teaching us how we stay in the kingdom. Rather the Sermon is a description of the character and conduct of those who already belong to God’s kingdom. The Sermon is not a call to repentance, though that may be involved at times, it is a description of the expression and evidences of true repentance. The purpose of this sermon, I believe, is for God to work his kingdom characteristics, his virtues in us - so we become like him. It’s purpose is that we can achieve the human flourishing that God intends for us, and so that we properly represent him and his Kingdom. Jesus Christ came from heaven on a rescue mission to invite all people into his Kingdom of righteousness and peace. Here at RCF we teach and seek to practice the way of Jesus, having responded to his offer of salvation; and this sermon has been used for centuries to shape and form God’s people into the way of Jesus and we are believing that this is what God will do with us as well. We started, weeks ago, with the beatitudes and worked our way through Jesus’ vision for Human Flourishing and now we have moved into Jesus’ teaching on what a fulfilled or greater righteousness looks like, Righteousness greater than even the the most religious people of Jesus’ day. It is so important to understand that Jesus IS presenting us with a task we cannot fulfill on our own ( it’s otherworldly, upside down, so antithetical to the way the world is - it is the way it was meant to be, the way of God’s kingdom)- he is in fact lifting the bar so high that no one can attain it. But simultaneously Jesus is inviting us into his kingdom and he offers us his righteousness - imputed and infused. Imputed meaning he gives us his righteousness - a status we could never attain - Justification and Adoption as children of God. But he also offers us an infused righteousness - (regeneration - new hearts, new minds, and a new spirit according to Ezekiel 36; Jeremiah 24) so that we become a new kind of people - his people, who do God’s kingdom righteousness because that is the kind of people we have become through his grace and spirit at work in us. This is what St. Paul is talking about when he says, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:3-4) Jesus is going to show us what this greater righteousness looks like in regards to Vengeance, Personal rights, and loving our enemies. 1. The Teaching 1. Jesus again takes up the Law of Moses - “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” 2. This teaching is found throughout the Law of Moses. Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; and Deuteronomy 19:20-21. 3. A very often mistaken teaching about restitution. When you look at the brutality of the laws of the surrounding nations at the time you see that The Law of Moses was there for the protection of the weak and poor, those who would often be the objects of injustice. Consider Hammurabi’s laws that only applied to a certain class of people. if you were rich and powerful you could basically get away with anything. 4. The Law of Moses was not teaching retaliation, as some misguided people think, but it was restraining evil, limiting revenge, and protecting the weak. It was to be a deterrent toward evil. As we can even see in the biblical story line the temptation of humanity when wronged is to repay double if not more. (Genesis 4:19-24) 5. But the scriptures also point to another way - The way of forgiveness and grace. Think of Joseph - when he had the opportunity to repay evil to his brothers he showed them grace and forgiveness. It was well within his rights and yet he does not use his right, but chooses forgiveness. Think about David with Saul - he would have been “justified” in killing Saul. Saul tried multiple times to murder David and yet, David does not use his rights, but chooses rather grace and forgiveness instead of revenge. You can see a pattern of this in the OT. Fight evil with revenge or fight it with grace, mercy and forgiveness. 2. The Exhortation 1. Jesus is again bringing his kingdom people into the fulness of what the Law was really pointing to - Confronting evil with forgiveness and grace. 1. Jesus says, “But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. 2. One commentator said, The slap represents a wrong done to my body - my person - my character. The coat represents wrong done to my property, the forced mile a wrong to my liberty and the loan a wrong to my generosity. All of these are wrongs done to me, that challenge my rights. As I’ve mentioned in recent studies this is so antithetical to our western ideas about Justice and Human rights. Especially antithetical to this cultural moment of exposing and shaming evil -without any desire to forgive or reconcile. You see it all over social media and the news - it’s an era of sweet revenge and personal vindication. Funny though - it never brings the satisfaction that we think it will - it just adds to pain and suffering of the world. Not to mention the myriad of books written and films made about how revenge never satisfies.. anyway.. 3. Jesus says to us - though this maybe the normal state of affairs of the world to seek retributive justice - His people are not to retaliate, but to be merciful and gracious. 4. The Translation - “Do not resist the evil person,” is an unfortunate one. It sounds like Jesus is suggesting that we simply get our faces bashed in or that we let evil run amuck. A proper translation would be - Don’t use violence to resist the evil person. Jesus is saying do not take revenge, or seek to get even. (1 Thess 5:15; 1 Peter 3:9) 5. Might I suggest the Jesus is not calling us towards nonretaliation? Jesus wants us to respond to evil, and I believe the NT would show that we are to do that very aggressively - we are to respond with aggressive love, forgiveness and mercy. 6. Jesus is calling us to take control in those situations, to confront evil with Love and Mercy - Turn the other cheek, give the other garment, go the extra mile, give the other loan. 7. Listen to Paul from Romans 12:17 - “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” 1. The word honorable in Greek is Kalos it means - Beautiful excellent, surpassing, commendable, admirable, beautiful to look at, magnificent, good, excellent in its nature and characteristics, and therefore well adapted to its ends. 8. Jesus is calling his people to confront evil with a response that is out of this world - a way that is shocking to “the way the world is”. Jesus is calling us to be more clever and creative in our responses to evil than just retaliation and revenge. Respond with a grace and beauty that is out of this world. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” - MLK JR 9. Listen again to Paul, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. - Romans 12:17-21 10. Wherever this command has been taken seriously it has proved a powerful witness to the kingdom of God - Remember the Amish school shooting in Bart township in 2006. 11. Following the tragic Amish school shooting of 10 young schoolgirls in a one-room Amish school in October 2006, reporters from throughout the world invaded Lancaster County, PA to cover the story. However, in the hours and days following the shooting a different, an unexpected story developed. In the midst of their grief over this shocking loss, the Amish community didn’t cast blame, they didn’t point fingers, they didn’t hold a press conference with attorneys at their sides. Instead, they reached out with grace and compassion toward the killer’s family. The afternoon of the shooting an Amish grandfather of one of the girls who was killed expressed forgiveness toward the killer, Charles Roberts. That same day Amish neighbors visited the Roberts family to comfort them in their sorrow and pain. Later that week the Roberts family was invited to the funeral of one of the Amish girls who had been killed. And Amish mourners outnumbered the non-Amish at Charles Roberts’ funeral. It’s ironic that the killer was tormented for nine years by the pre-mature death of his young daughter. He never forgave God for her death. Yet, after he cold-bloodedly shot 10 innocent Amish school girls, the Amish almost immediately forgave him and showed compassion toward his family. In a world at war and in a society that often points fingers and blames others, this reaction was unheard of. Many reporters and interested followers of the story asked, “How could they forgive such a terrible, unprovoked act of violence against innocent lives?” 12. How indeed? The Amish have at the heart of their christian community not just Jesus’ teaching us to love and forgive our enemies, but the very action of loving ones enemies and forgiving one’s enemies… This is exactly what Jesus did of us - we did not deserve his love or forgiveness but he forgave us freely of his own grace. 3. The Why? 1. In the example of the amish community practicing the way of Jesus toward the school shooter we might see an incentive towards this way for turning the evil person around - an evangelistic tool if you will. 2. But Jesus doesn’t say that, nor does he suggest that the individual person will stop their evil ways. We might think that this “way of Jesus” is good for kingdom PR. But Jesus actually says - it’s good for us. 3. See a non-violent, non-retaliatory, loving our enemies response… is the practical work of making us into sons and daughters of God. - Listen to Jesus - “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.. 4. Practicing the way of Jesus transforms our character - it shapes us to be more like the Father and share the family likeness! Of course there is nothing powerful, life changing, or out of this world about loving people who are like you, or people that love you - anyone can do that. Life changing, out of this world love - loves “the other”, forgives, blesses and prays for their enemy. 5. See once again the small decisions we make everyday are shaping the people we are becoming. Either more and more like the seed of the serpent, the way of darkness and the evil one - having preference in our love, grace or forgiveness of people. Or more and more the seed of messiah, the way of Light, and children of God who is kind and gracious to all - who blesses all with rain and sunshine. 6. Jesus is calling his people into a perfect love. That’s what he is talking about when he talks about being perfect - the word in Greek is Telios and it means whole, or full devoted. In this context it is referencing God’s non-discriminatory love - that causes blessing to fall on all people regardless of who they are and what they have done. Jesus is calling us into a greater righteousness that goes beyond the Law of rights and justice. He is calling us to a law of love. As Paul says, “Love does no wrong - therefore love IS the fulfillment of the Law. Another way to see it is that in Jesus we have become a part of God’s kingdom -Love is the law and language they speak in God's kingdom, we are summoned to learn it preparing for the day when God's world and ours will be united forever. 4. Ok - Let’s talk about the huge elephant in the room. 1. Let me speak to the more conservative people for a moment You might think - This view point is very in vogue in our day and age.. Many people who would not call themselves Christians of any kind take a non-violent, non-retaliatory approach towards evil. remember Ghandi - who’s wisdom we have dispelled into bumper stickers (Thank you western society) “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” - Ghandi takes the pragmatic approach and many people today follow that. - The problem is it doesn’t take evil seriously. I agree. 2. Let me speak now to you who are more liberally minded - Maybe you have a non-violent, non-retaliatory approach toward evil based off society's influence. Can I humbly suggest - for you that are younger that this is most likely due to either the fact that you haven’t lived long enough to see true evil or you have never traveled outside of the western hemisphere. The world is a dark, sinister, wicked place - filled with rape, slavery, extortion, deceit, murder, and genocide. How can someone be non-violent or non-retaliatory in world like ours? I think of the saying from Edmund Burke - "The only thing needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." 3. How can Jesus say this? Isn’t God a god of Justice? It would seem so looking at the OT. Has God relaxed his justice in Jesus? Might I suggest the bible offers us a third way. Where some might say just forgive and forget, other would say we must repay of there is no respect for life - no justice - The scripture says, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.” 1. How can God command us to forgive wrong done to us? To let people take advantage of our generosity, kindness, property, or person? How can God expect us to love or tell us to love our enemies? 2. Because this is exactly what God has done for us. He took the just punishment OUR sin deserves - it was laid on him. All the sin of the world - and all the righteous judgment of that sin was put on Jesus. Sin that we have done, sin done to us, sin done in our presence that defiles us - all was paid for on the cross at Calvary! 1. God is simply asking us to do to others what he has done for us. 3. Beware of a “loving your enemy” that is birthed out of a desire to show that you are better than them - That’s not love, that is subtle revenge.. Love because you have been forgiven and loved and because this is what your Father in heaven is like. 4. Questions: is there someone you are harboring anger towards? is there someone that deserves and maybe expects retaliation from you? Maybe you don’t want to harm them but you definitely want to avoid them. How could you do good to them? How can you shock them with a reaction that is out of this world? How can you practice the way of Jesus towards them? May God empower us by his Spirit to forgive like he does.
Related Media
Related Sermons