A MAN WHO CHANGED THE WORLD
Jesus Goes the Extra Mile
You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’
But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.
If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
Don’t fight back!
There is a story of a man named Bud who was at a football game alone. He carefully placed his scarf on his seat to reserve it as he proceeded to the restroom. He returned, only to find the scarf had been thrown on the ground and someone else was sitting in his seat. When he informed the man in his seat that he was the one who had been sitting there, the guy abused him and told him to find another seat. Now Bud went to the bar, bought a beer, returned to the seat, silently gave it to the man who had stolen his seat, and then walked away.
Out of context, it is easy to see the above scripture text as a command to be passive in the face of violence and exploitation; however, passivity is the opposite of what Jesus is teaching here. This passage is one of a series of examples Jesus gives in Matthew 5 of radically distinctive behavior that will point people to the God of love (Matthew 5:16).
It is important to notice that these are commands to action. ‘Turn the other cheek…Hand over your coat…Go the extra mile.’ This is not submitting to violence and exploitation, but taking back the initiative, and overturning violence with love. When unjust demands are made of us by those more “powerful”, passivity involves doing exactly what is demanded and no more. To actually do more than is demanded instead is to assert your own autonomy and dignity in a most surprising and powerful way, a way that flies in the face of the usual dynamics of power and resistance.
Though Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. showed the transformative power of these principles, Jesus showed it to the fullest. Jesus is a man who fought one battle; the battle of sin on the cross. Some may perceive Jesus as passive since he did not give a fight all through his trial and crucifixion. On the contrary, Jesus was a man who turned the other cheek over and over again going the extra mile by taking on their (and our) sin, leaving earth, only to return offering them (and us) grace.
At Rockport, we take seriously Jesus’ words and strive to reach out in love to all whom we encounter by going that extra mile, remembering Jesus conquered the war that really counts.