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An Eye For An Eye


Read Luke 9: 51-54; Matt. 5:38-42

Have you ever felt this way? I think that most of us have. At some point in time, when someone has insulted us, humiliated us, or hurt us, we sometimes want to strike back.

I think everyone of us at some time has had an urge to “get even.”

Here in Luke 9, Jesus disciples want to “get even.”

And then when Jesus asked these people for help…the disciples didn’t care for that either.

And then when these Samaritans refused to receive Jesus, the disciples were furious.

 The disciples wanted revenge.

But where did the disciples get this kind of thinking? Where do some today get this kind of an idea?

Turn with me if you would to Matt. 5: 38. Jesus speaks here and He says:

“You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.”

But these Rabbis were doing what a lot of people do…they were misusing the scriptures.

Exodus 21 isn’t talking about revenge and retaliation.

Exodus 21:24, if you go to that passage and look is dealing with “case laws.”

The emphasis of this “case law” found in Exodus 21:24 had to do with making restitution for damages.

It was a law that was designed to keep someone from being unfairly under compensated or over compensated.

For example, in 1994 Stella Liebeck of Albuquerque, NM bought a 49 cent cup of coffee at McDonald’s. After she bought the cup of coffee she put it between her knees in order to add cream to it. In the process of removing the lid she spilt the entire cup of coffee and it ran down into the seat and she suffered 3rd degree burns. She spent 8 days in the hospital and incurred about $12000 worth of medical expenses. She filed suit against McDonald’s for $20,000 to cover the cost of her medical expenses. When the case went to court the jury awarded Stella $165,000 dollars and $2.7 million dollars for punitive damages. And amount that most people felt like was a ridiculous amount for the injury sustained.

That was the purpose of the law in Exodus 21:24…it was to protect the victim by giving just restitution and at the same time it protected the wrongdoer because it limited the compensation the victim would receive.

The law found in Exodus 21:24 and quoted in Matthew 5:38 had nothing to do with retaliation.

Look at it again, Matthew 5:38: Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.”

Look what he says next:  “But I say to you…”

Look what he says:  “But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to Him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.”

Do you know what Jesus is saying here?

That is not what Jesus is saying.

This passage is dealing with revenge…retaliation…getting even…what you do when someone who is evil wrongs you.

Jesus is talking about refusing, refraining, forgoing completely exacting revenge and getting even.

Paul says it this way in Romans 12: 17: “Never…never pay back evil for evil to anyone.”

Jesus doesn’t want us to retaliate…He wants us to go the “extra mile” to keep from retaliating.

I think Jesus tells us how to do this in vs. 44.

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

 Love! Love your enemies!

Remember the song we sing, “He could have called 10,000 angels”?

The second way you keep from retaliating is changing the way you see things…look at vs. 44-45 again.

“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”

That is how you overcome the urge to retaliate…seeing things through Spiritual eyes.

The third thing that will keep you from retaliating is realizing what it can result in.

Sometimes we think we want to get even but it’s not worth the price that you will pay.

Dale Carnegie asked one of the rangers, “How could this be? It’s obvious that the grizzlies don’t like it. Why those skunks seem to be running around so arrogant and obnoxious stealing food right in front of the bears. Why don’t the bears get even with the skunks and run them off too?”

God tells us in Romans 12 that “Vengeance is His.”

I think that we all at sometime have an urge to “get even” with someone.

It’s not easy but it can be done.

Christ doesn’t want us to retaliate…but there is something else that Christ doesn’t want us to do either…that’s be lost.