When Jesus was explaining to His disciples how they would really turn heads, he gave them a picture that did not compute. He engaged in what could best be described as a rhetorical overstatement to make a point. Statements like ‘eye for an eye’, the time when he said if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also, and if someone wants to sue you for your shirt, give him your cloak as well.
Say what? If His listeners took what Jesus said literally, they were about to spend their lives being abused, codependent, naked, and broke! Jesus’ statements were clearly intended to strike at an issue central to His own life mission and the people He would die for, those who would choose to believe in Him, and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in and through Christians. The issue? Human selfishness. He used the same, recorded in the gospel of Mark, when He told people to gouge out their eyeballs and cut off their hands to get them to take sin seriously.
His can’t miss application point in this uncomfortable but forceful expose’ on human selfishness is this: Value others in consistent and concrete ways. Look for opportunities to be unselfish. Leave the perceived injustices connected to your efforts in God’s hands. This is faith in action: trusting Him to use your unselfish and generous actions to show His love at work in your life. To be able to act unselfishly in the interest of another is truly a work of God in a believer’s life. But to act unselfishly in the midst of an unfair, unjust, and oppressive situation is truly a witness to others of His divine power at work in us. How? Because they know us.
Being under Roman rule was a perfect backdrop for what His own life, Kingdom service, and Holy Spirit living was all about; submitting to unjust demands and exceeding them for a higher purpose.
Father, Your Son was always relevant in his teaching, may this be my goal.