Skip to main content

Have you ever wanted Payback? To get even with someone who has wronged you; or hurt you?

There are literally hundreds of movies about revenge. In fact, IMDB (the go-to website for info on any film) has even created a list of the “50 best Revenge movies of all time” – including several that many would call classics.

People love to hear stories about someone getting what they deserve.

But I wonder what all this looks like in Jesus’ new World – His new Kingdom.

Today we are going to read something from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. We might say, this describes how Jesus wants us to live; or what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. It is certainly different to the world around us.

“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 anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matt 5 :38 – 42).

At first glance these words seem like they are saying, “just be weak; just be a victim; don’t stand up for yourself; let people walk all over you!”

Is Jesus encouraging a victim mentality?

The answer is – No, He’s not!  Yes, sometimes we do need to defend ourselves (or defend others) but there is a big difference between blocking ourselves from harm and exacting revenge. If we have the power to protect ourselves (or somebody else) in danger, we must do so. However, if we can diffuse a bad situation peacefully, for example, refusing to hit back or blessing somebody with more than they deserve, it is surely better than letting anger rule the day.

Imagine a Roman soldier in Jesus’ world, picking on a frail old man, demanding that he carry a heavy load for him for a whole mile, even though the young soldier is more than capable of picking up his own things. But, instead of the man refusing to comply or becoming angry, he looks at the boy, not much older than his grandson, as says, “Son, I am not going to carry this bag for 1 mile, I am going to walk with you for two. You may wonder why. Well simply this: I serve a God who gives us more than we deserve, who pours out blessings both on the Godly and the godly, who reaches out to us even when we want nothing to do with Him. It’s called Grace.  I just wanted you to experience something of that grace.

Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount are not about becoming a victim but about overcoming evil with good, responding to hatred (or anger) with mercy and kindness.

I don’t know about you, but I would rather be in a world like that than one where revenge is unrestrained.