“Comments on Matthew 5:38-42,” by Andrew J. Schatkin
Ladies and gentlemen and my dear readers, discerners, politically incorrect and you who seek to go beneath the surface and seek to arrive at the truth not by means of media slogans and political code words but wish to do so by intellectually honest discourse and discussion.
Today’s saying I am seek to grasp and present to my audience is found in Matthew chapter 5:38-42 in which Jesus advises us to take the course of resisting evil.
Jesus says the following in this chapter and in these verses: “You have heard that it was said ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you do not resist one who is evil but if any one strikes you on the right cheek turn to him the other also and if anyone would sue you and take your cloak let him have your cloak as well, and if any one forces you to go one mile go with him two miles and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.”
These advisements and comments and sayings of the eternal god are clearly follow-ups and extensions of the meanings of the lord’s sayings on love of neighbor and its radical extension in love of enemies and prayer for those who persecute you. We are told first not only not to resist evil, but if struck on one cheek turn the other away; if sued, give the suer the other of your cloaks; if forced to go one mile, go two miles; give to him who begs and do not refuse the borrower. There can be no doubt that these are pragmatic expansions on the command to love all, whether enemy or neighbor in general. Jesus here expands our understanding and grasp and interpretation of what the obligation is to love our neighbor, but perhaps he seeks to reach our minds and souls with what love is: not words, but sacrificial actions. The love of neighbor and perhaps enemy is a great and radical demand on how we should conduct our lives. Jesus gives examples whose meaning we do not and cannot escape. His demands are radical demands on what love is and how we should live a life of love with respect and regard for all who cross our path in our lives.
The rule of an eye for an eye is a legal rule found in regulating revenge and retaliation for damages in Ex 21:22-25; Lev 24:20; and Deut 19:21. The same rule is found in the code of Hammurabi and the Roman Law of 12 Tables. Jesus teaches differently: do not resist with physical action, he says. Jesus does not suggest indifference to evil, but to bring a change of heart to the evildoer, A winning formula in the strategy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi.
My dear friends I hope I have shed some light once again on teaching of Jesus and am honored by the privilege of having the opportunity of providing an interpretation and shedding some light on another of his sayings.
I acknowledge the help and instruction provided by the New Jerome Biblical commentary on Matt 5, published in 1968, pp 643-644.