Read Exodus 21:18-25

v 24  an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, 

Taken out of context these Old Testament regulations seem harsh. Please notice however that the setting is one of a judicial response to harming a pregnant woman, it is not an issue of personal revenge for any hurt suffered. Sadly, this specific regulation had been extended by legally-minded Jews to include any matter of personal injury. Even then it was in the context of judicial actions rather than allowing personal revenge. Under no circumstances whatever could this regulation be seen to allow for taking revenge on another person.

Jesus makes it abundantly clear that retaliation and revenge have no place in a Christian’s thinking. But Jesus goes further than that and asks His followers to adopt a radical lifestyle in which the new norm is giving more than is asked for. The curt demand from a soldier ‘Carry my gear’ (which Roman law permitted, provided it was only for one mile) is met with ‘Sure sir, I’ll do a double stint. Inconvenient – of course it might be, but then the new norm does not depend on it being convenient. Nowhere does Jesus ever claim or even suggest ever-so slightly that following Him would be an easy option in life! Quite the contrary in fact; His command is to take up our cross and follow.  He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. (1 Peter 2:23)  For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.  (1 Peter 2:21) Following the example of Jesus means that the Christian can never breathe the air of revenge and retaliation.

That is both radical and inconvenient, but it is God’s way for us.

Tuesday 2nd February Daily Notes from The Hub