• Download

Two Distinguishing Marks of a Jesus Follower (Matthew 5:33-42)

First Baptist Church http://fbcbartow.org

“Two Distinguishing Marks of a Jesus Follower”

(Matthew 5:33-42)

Series: God’s Fulfilled Promise [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

October 21, 2018

Introductory Comments:

In his commentary on this passage, Pastor J. Vernon McGee tells the story of an Irishman who was punched in the face by someone. Upon remembering the words of Jesus, he turned the other cheek and the man punched him again. After that, the Irishman beat the snot out of the man. When asked why he did so, the Irishman replied Jesus said to turn the other cheek, but he didn’t say what to do after that. 

Well, we can be sure that this was probably not what Jesus would have recommended to the Irishman. 

You see, Jesus didn’t tell us to turn the other cheek in order to delay the pummeling of someone. 

Well, why did He tell us this? That’s what we will look at today. 

This morning we will learn two distinguishing marks of a Jesus follower. 

Remember, Jesus is in the middle of His famous sermon that He delivered on a mountainside before His followers.

He’s telling them how to live as followers of God, and it’s often in a way that is counter to the way of the world.

Indeed, today’s passage is no different. 

Let’s look at the passage and then ask God to guide us. 

Read the Passage

Read Matthew 5:33-42

33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to our ancestors,You must not break your oath, but you must keep your oaths to the Lord. 34 But I tell you, don’t take an oath at all: either by heaven, because it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, because it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. 36 Do not swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ mean ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.

38 “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 39 But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Let’s pray together.

(Prayer)

As Jesus has said before, He again says that we have heard something said one way in the Old Testament law, but He is seeking to clarify that law or explain it in greater details. 

Jesus says that you’ve heard that you’re not supposed to break an oath to the Lord, but I say that you’re not supposed to take an oath at all. 

First of all, on this matter of taking oaths, Jesus seeks to point out some inconsistencies in their oath takings. 

The people of the day believed that they could make oaths, and even break oaths that were not directly bound by God Himself or to God Himself. 

So, they could make lesser oaths that were bound by some other person or thing besides God. 

Some of the religious people of the day would make these so-called lesser binding oaths at it would be the equivalent of someone making a promise today with their fingers crossed. 

Jesus said it shouldn’t be this way. Not only should you not break an oath sworn by God, but also these other things such as by heaven, by earth, by Jerusalem, or even by ourselves, or our own heads. 

Jesus is pointing out that all of these things are important to God because they were created by God and for God. 

Then, Jesus gets at the greater point.

We are to be people of truth. 

That’s our first point . . .

I. Jesus Followers are Marked by Truth (vv. 33-37) [on screen]

Look at verse 37 again. 

37 But let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ mean ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.

Jesus simply wants our yes to mean yes and our no to mean no. 

His point is that we shouldn’t have to put a deposit on our trustworthiness. 

Think about that for a moment. Does your “yes” mean “yes” and your “no” mean “no?”

My son Jeremiah was doing this thing for a while where he was pinky swearing. He would say, “Dad, I pinky swear!” I told him that he doesn’t need to do that. I want him to be a man of his word and when he says yes or no, I want it to mean yes or no. 

When you tell a story, or relay information, or answer a question, do people know that you really mean what you say? Have you given them a reason not to trust you?

Jesus said that anything less than yes and no meaning yes and no is from the evil one. 

(pause)

Think about the implications of that. If you cannot be trusted with your yes and no, you are displaying the acts of Satan. That’s heavy!

The way of Satan is exaggerating, and falsifying, and lying.  The way of God is accuracy, and truth, and honesty. 

(pause)

Jesus is not against oaths in particular. He’s against the necessity of oaths in order for someone to trust you. 

If you have to swear on your mother’s grave, or on your life, or pinky swear in order to be trusted, then you’re not like Jesus wants you to be. 

Be truthful; be honest; be a person of integrity; be a true follower of Jesus. 

Next, . . .

II. Jesus Followers are Marked by Humility (vv. 38-42) [on screen]

Look at the passage again. 

38 “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 39 But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Again, Jesus said that you have heard an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 

It’s important that we understand that this referred to judicial matters and matters of disrespect. This does not refer to matters of self-defense or protection. 

The slap on the cheek referred to what would have been a back-handed slap across the face which was meant to show disdain or disrespect. 

So, the physical part of what Jesus is talking about refers to getting even with someone because of an injustice or offense that has been committed against you.

The Jewish law went back generations to say that in legal terms justice demanded that if an eye is taken, the payment must be an eye. So also, if a tooth is damaged, a tooth must be paid. This is the legal requirement.

What Jesus is saying is that the Christian should not be focused on personal retribution. The follower of Jesus should not look to always be getting things even for themselves. 

The kindness and humility that we are to show applies even to legal issues that we encounter. 

Jesus is not saying that we should willingly subject ourselves or those we love to physical danger. This has to do with what’s just and fair. Jesus says it shouldn’t be our concern to fight for personal justice. 

As with much of the other statements of Jesus, this was probably not well received by some. Jesus’ followers didn’t want a Messiah who would turn the other cheek to those who struck him. They wanted one who would smash anyone who struck him on the cheek. 

Jesus is again instructing us that the way of God is different, and the way of a follower of God is different. 

Jesus takes this further. He says if someone takes your shirt to give him your coat as well.

Now Jesus has shifted from talking about body parts to talking about clothes. What is going on?

Well, in ancient Jewish culture, the coat was the most protective and valuable piece of garment that a person could have, particularly for the poor. 

The coat would offer warmth, security, and was even used by many as a blanket to sleep in the cold evenings. 

The coat was so important that the laws of their day actually prevented someone from taking a coat from another person because they needed it so much. 

However, Jesus says that is someone wants to take your shirt (a lesser valued garment), give them your coat also (the most valuable garment).

First, Jesus talks about physical harm, then physical objects, then He speaks of a physical act. He says, “if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two.”

Obviously, a mile is a pretty good ways to walk, particularly if you’re not doing it for exercise. 

There may be different contexts as to why someone would be forced to go a mile. That’s not the point of the passage. 

The point of the passage is that the follower of God demonstrates selflessness and humility by being willing to not only go the mile for the person but also by going an extra mile to show that life is not centered on them.

We’ve even had an expression that comes out of this verse. You’ve probably heard of someone who “goes the extra mile” when doing something. We all know that’s a good thing. This is said of someone who puts in extra effort, beyond what is required when doing something for someone else.  

This is the point of all that Jesus is getting at: we are not living life for ourselves. We are not living for our own justice, for fairness for us, for benefit for us. It’s all for God!

The follower of Jesus is distinguished by a life of humility that points people back to a supernatural attitude of selflessness, kindness, and humility, which in turn points others to the one who deserves all the glory, the Creator of the Universe, God Almighty.

The follower of Jesus is able to do this because he or she knows that it’s not about them. It’s all about Him. 

Finally, Jesus says in verse 42, “Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

Again, Jesus is calling us to personal selflessness and humility. 

We are to go out of our way to give to others, which demonstrates that life is not about us. 

This life of giving puts things in perspective for us as well as serving as a real-life demonstration to others that the physical things of this earth are not our prize; Jesus is. 

Now, on this point, it’s important that we realize that Jesus is not providing us with best practices for a charitable work. This verse is not about how to run a charitable organization or a benevolence ministry. It’s about our personal humility. 

We want to use wisdom in charitable organizations, and this is something that we deal with here in the church office. We have limited resources as a church, that have been given to us by God, so we want to be wise. As Saint Augustine said, “the text says ‘Give to everyone that asks,’ not ‘give everything to him that asks.’”

However, remember this passage is directed to individual followers. So, personally, we are to take on an attitude of selflessness and humility. 

(pause) 

Now, on this discussion of humility, if you’re like me, you might say, “but what about justice?”

Aren’t we to be concerned with making things right? Doesn’t God love justice?

The answer is yes. God does love justice and we are to fight for justice. 

However, remember that the instruction here is for the individual, personally. The discussion is not about the pursuit of justice on behalf of others. 

After putting some thought into this, I came up with this statement: fight for justice for others; fight for humility for yourself. (repeat)

The idea here is that we are not to personally seek honor for ourselves. All the honor belongs to God, so let’s point to Him. 

I like what the Life Application Study Bible says here: “Our desire should not be to keep score, but to love and forgive. This is not natural—it is supernatural.”

Let’s be like Jesus. Let’s demonstrate love, humility, and forgiveness. 

Have you experienced the love and forgiveness of Jesus?

(Gospel Presentation)

Concluding Thoughts:

In all of this, we learn that a follower of Jesus is truthful and humble. 

Church, I believe that we need to be reminded weekly, even daily, that we are to live differently than the world. 

Jesus is continually giving us distinguishing marks of a true follower of His. Today, we are reminded to be truthful and humble. 

That takes us to our bottom line . . .

Bottom Line: If you want to be like Jesus, be a person of truth and humility.  [on screen]

(repeat)

How many of you want to be like Jesus?

I think most of us want to be like Jesus, so let’s pay attention to His instructions for us. As He delivered the sermon on the mountainside nearly 2,000 years ago, let His teaching speak to your heart and mind today. 

Challenge yourself this week in the following ways:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

  1. Make a commitment to be a person of truth.  [on screen]

Actually write it down, if you need to. Create a plaque, whatever!

Some of us try to be truthful in the big things, but we don’t worry about the little things.

Let us remember that Jesus said that he who is faithful with little will be faithful with much and he who is unfaithful with little will be unfaithful with much.

Let’s be people of truth. 

Let’s all individually commit to be persons of truth. 

  1. Display humility to a neighbor or coworker this week.  [on screen]

This is a very specific challenge and purposefully so. 

I want us to narrow in on this challenge. 

Think of a way that you can display humility this week. Perhaps someone has wronged you and you need to show them kindness for no reason other than that you are a follower of Jesus. 

Perhaps someone hasn’t wronged you, but you simply feel led by the Spirit of God to show them selfless kindness. 

Think through this and commit to do it.

It would encourage me for you to share with me how it goes. 

Closing:

As we close, remember, if you’ve not experienced the love and kindness of Jesus, you can do so today. 

If you’ve already experienced the love and kindness of Jesus, commit again to live a life of truth and humility, as a faithful follower of Jesus. 

(Closing Prayer)

Invitation Song – Have Thine Own Way

Benediction:

If you have any sort of spiritual decision that you would like to make, you can contact me or Pastor Richard and we would be glad to talk to you anytime.

Tonight our evening service will be at Church at the Mall in Lakeland as we celebrate with the other churches in our association at the South Florida Baptist Association annual celebration. That will be held at 6 PM at Church at the Mall. You can find out more in your bulletin. There is a ministry fair ahead of time at 5 PM if you’re interested. 

Let’s dismiss by singing the Doxology. 

(Sing Doxology)

COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER: The text contained in this sermon is solely owned by its author. The reproduction, or distribution of this message, or any portion of it, should include the author’s name. The author intends to provide free resources in order to inspire believers and to assist preachers and teachers in Kingdom work.