Turn the Other Cheek (2 of 2)

turn-the-other-cheek-3

(Continued from yesterday)

What about shirt & coat? The shirt is the inner garment, the coat the outer cloak, to keep warm while a person sleeps. In Jesus’ days a lender could legally keep a borrower’s shirt overnight as collateral, but must return his coat during the night so he can use it as a blanket:
Ex 22:26-27 If you ever take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you are to return it to him before the sun sets, for that is his only covering; it is his cloak for his body. What else shall he sleep in?
• Deut 24:12-13 If he is a poor man, you shall not sleep with his pledge. When the sun goes down you shall surely return the pledge to him, that he may sleep in his cloak and bless you;

This was not the laws of the country, but Mosaic law in the Torah, & definitely not lawlessness. By asking a borrower to let the lender have his coat also, Jesus was asking us to give up our rights & go beyond what the law required.

Paul understood this principle very well, for he taught in
1 Co 6:7 Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?

Regarding going two miles, under military law any Roman soldier can conscript a Jew to carrying his burden for a distance of up to one mile. This was the case when they pressed Simon of Cyrene into service to carry Jesus’ cross (Mt 27:32, Mk 15:21, Lk 23:26). By asking His disciples to go two miles, Jesus was again asking them to go the extra mile freely, not under compulsion.

Finally, with respect to giving & lending, Jesus was not asking us to be manipulated by panhandlers & acquaintances who want to take advantage of us, because we are supposed to be shrewd:
Mt 10:16 Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.

The principle is in:
1 Jn 3:17-18 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

Paul learned this well:
Rom 12:17-21 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

So all cases in fact relate to not insisting on your rights, not taking revenge in your own hands, but giving up rights and going the extra mile because you are now a child of God, for the sake of your testimony. Roman rule applies only to Mt 5:41, so the first commentator you quoted generalized too much. Besides, no one except those who are indwelt & filled with the Holy Spirit can do these. To require that of the lower social strata, who may not be Christians, is to ask for the impossible, which Jesus didn’t do. The second commentator caught the essence of what Jesus taught better, though he did not explain it enough.

As to your own observation, there are only two parties in Mt 5:38-42 – you & the second-party, be it an evil person, your creditor, a government authority, or a brother in need. There is no third-party peacemaker as in Mt 5:9. While it would be nice to have a reconciler to act as go-between, you do not have that luxury here. So Mt 5:9 does not really apply. Hope this helps.

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