KNOWING JUSTICE (20 OF 52)

by Christopher Harbin


This content is part of a series.

Knowing Justice (20 of 52)
Series: Discipleship Part Two
Christopher B. Harbin
Deuteronomy 19:11-21 and Matthew 5:38-48


We don't always get our ''druthers.'' There are some things that life just not present to us the way we would prefer. I want a world without cancer. I want a world without strokes. I want a world without dementia and Alzheimer's disease. I want a garden that does not grow weeds. I want a world without war, violence, racism, greed, and famine. I want a Bible that tells me exactly what I need to hear with no contradiction, wavering, or uncertainty. I want God to play by my rules and accept my priorities.

I can keep dreaming. We all can. At the end of the day, however, we have to deal with the reality before us. We don't get to live in Neverland. This is the world we have, and we have to accept it as it is.

Today's passage is one of those texts that makes me uncomfortable. Deuteronomy expresses the legal code of Ancient Israel. In some places, it does a good job of presenting God and God's will in a way that Jesus would find acceptable. In other places like this chapter, it falls short. We can try to explain that away as legal code for government versus individual morality, but Jesus did not seem to make such distinctions. This passage simply does not measure up to Jesus' teaching. It falls short.

It's not only Jesus who had issues with the concepts presented here. In Exodus, laws concerning retribution were established with the sense of limiting revenge. The same is the tenor of such laws in Leviticus. Deuteronomy seems to be the only text including language that the guilty should not be shown mercy. It is the only voice setting forth legal standards for restitution and redress that do not recognize mercy in the limitation of a violent response for murder. When Deuteronomy says, ''Eye for eye, tooth for tooth,'' it is singular in taking mercy, pity, and compassion off the table.

Jesus had a different take. ''You have heard it sai ...

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