First, a little background. When Pastor Dustin introduced this Sermon on the Mount series and asked for volunteers several things happened. I (Blaine) have been engaging with Jonathan and Abby in a weekly bible class. We spent 3 months in Genesis-Deuteronomy (the law) and 3 months in the Prophets. As we were nearing the end of their current term, I was looking for a ‘final project for them to conclude their study. When the summer preaching schedule came out, we agreed to co-preach a sermon using the two scripture lessons below. Abby will be imagining what ‘eye for an eye’ might have meant in ancient Babylon. Jonathan is fast-forwarding to imagine what a personal ‘eye for an eye’ might mean in today’s climate. I will give a brief summary of what Jesus was referring to when he mentioned ‘law and prophets.’
‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
In Jewish understandings the word ‘law’ is best understood as ‘instruction.’
An oversimplification for sure, but much of a prophet’s work was imploring people to return to God’s instructions.
Reflection: Consider the famous 10 instructions (sometimes referred to as commandments). Think of time when you better understood the instruction after you broke it and then returned a little ‘wiser for the wear.’
Matthew 5:38-42 (the Message)
“Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, gift wrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
At its core this scripture is about retaliation. Considering the definition ‘to return like for like’ or ‘to repay in kind’ think of what Jesus’ teaching means for your speech, your social media responses, your driving etiquette or your business practices.
~ Pastor Blaine