The Demonstration of Gospel Witness, Part 2: Expectation

This is the second post in a three-part series. Dr. Kim originally delivered his messages at First Presbyterian Church in August, Georgia, for the church’s 2015 Bible and Missionary Conference. Read the first part here.

“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 the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”

Matthew 5:38-42 (ESV)

Expectation

Jesus not only confronts the matter of our hearts that are prone to hate, he moves on in our text to express the expectations he has for those who want to follow the true meaning of the law.

A second theme Jesus articulates in this passage is expectation. In verses 38-42, he calls on us to not retaliate when provoke but to give up our all – especially our hearts. Remember, these are illustrations to reveal his expectations of our hearts. In verses 38-42 he gives four implicit commands (through illustration) to reveal the radical nature of his expectations.

First, turn the other cheek.

Jesus pictures a man being slapped on the right cheek. Two things are significant about this. First, such a blow was more an insult than a violent crime. It was an insult of massive proportions. Why? It was a strike with the back of the hand, something still regarded as grossly offensive in the Near East. Did you know that the fine for such an insult exceeded the average man’s wages for an entire year? Second, it was an insult for which the only recourse was to take a man to court, as people might do today for libel or defamation of character.

So what does Jesus mean here when he says, “Turn the other cheek?” Surely he’s not saying that his follower should deliberately put himself in the way of further suffering. No, Jesus is challenging them in this figurative way that to stand on our own rights and seek to have our dignity reaffirmed – even in the face of a violent offense – is not the right response. I wonder what the disciples were thinking as they heard Jesus that day.

Second, give away your cloak.


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Here Jesus pictures a man in court being sued for his tunic. In the first century legal context, the tunic, or what we would call our undershirt, would serve as a guarantee of payment. To this Jesus adds give away your cloak as well. What is he saying? The point of the saying makes sense when we remember that the outer coat of the Jew was virtually sacred. Remember the amazing “technicolor dreamcoat” that Joseph’s brothers were jealous of? Well, if the outer cloak were taken as a financial pledge, it had to be returned before nightfall, because for some, it served as both body clothing and bed clothing.

Again Jesus’ point is that when his followers meet with opposition and persecution, they should not stand on their legal rights. Instead of retaliating back with sin, those who desire to follow Jesus give up all that they hold dear – in this case their outer cloak. After all, love covers over a multitude of sins. “Lord, increase our faith!”

Third, go the extra mile.

This phrase is understandable once again if we understand the context and background of the time of writing. The Roman army that occupied Palestine had the right to force any Jew to assist them and carry their armor for a certain distance – but not one step more. The Jews hated this practice more than anything else, because it publicly illustrated the humiliation of being a subjugated people. We can easily imagine how the Romans must have abused this right.

To the shock of many listening, Jesus says here that when you are “drafted” for service and have walked the thousand paces required by the Roman regulations, keep going. Carry the load one more mile! No soldier had the right to make someone do that. But Jesus says, do it voluntarily.

Lastly, give to those who borrow or beg.

Giving to those who ask to borrow or giving to those who beg was not a legal duty for these early disciples. They were under no obligation to give. And yet, Jesus is showing them that the same law that restrains evil is also meant to teach us to express a lifestyle of grace that is the opposite of forbidden sin – to give up our all.

Interestingly, in the first three illustrations, Jesus pictures us in positions of disadvantage. Now, we are in the position of advantage, with someone below us seeking to borrow or beg. Here Jesus is again revealing what his expectations are – our hearts should be such that whether we are in positions of disadvantage or of advantage, we express kingdom love from the inside out. Thus, the true expression of the law of equity is found in the intentional yielding up of not only our rights, but our very all – indeed, loving with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Only when we show gracious love and sacrifice for our enemies will they see what the God-given meaning of the law really is. Perhaps then they will understand that our citizenship is in heaven and not in Palestine, Rome, Korea, or even America.

Turn the other cheek.
Give up your cloak.
Go the extra mile.
Give to those who borrow or beg.

These are Jesus’ expectations. This is what he means by “Do not resist an evil person.” This is the expression of kingdom Love. Shocking though it was to those first hearers, Jesus teaching here in Matthew 5 would eventually produce men and women who would turn the world upside down for his kingdom. It included eleven ordinary guys who at first couldn’t have understood what Jesus was talking about, but ultimately discovered the key: the confrontation of sin, and the expectation of the law could only be transformed by a sinless substitute who would pay the penalty for our sins to love our enemies, but would also provide the power to truly love.

 

Dr. Julius Kim is the dean of students and associate professor of practical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Escondido, California. His also serves a church calling as associate pastor of New Life Presbyterian Church in Escondido. Prior to Westminster Seminary California, Dr. Kim served in a variety of ecclesiastical and academic settings. He is a graduate of Vanguard University, Westminster Seminary California, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

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Further Reading

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Nanjing: Love Under Pressure
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Why Should I Love My Enemies?: Give Up Revenge, Love Enemies
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Nanjing: Bringing the Gospel Into Life
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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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About Chongqing

Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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