RSS feed

Download the pdf file

 

“If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”[1] So what is the extra mile? Is it turning the other cheek as someone strikes you on one cheek, and letting them have your cloak as well as they sue you for your tunic, as Jesus had said in the preceding verses? Or is it the verses after Matthew 5:41 that are truly the extra mile? Turning the other cheek and giving your cloak to the one who wants to take your tunic is not the extra mile, but rather, it is what you do to obey, “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.”[2]

As such, going the extra mile is fulfilled by what He said after verse 41, and examples of going the extra mile are to “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’[3] But I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven. …If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect therefore as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”[4] Or is it the extra mile?

Are the instructions of Jesus from verse 42 onwards really the extra mile or is it the first mile? That is, is giving to the one who asks you the extra mile, or is it giving to the one who has not asked you the extra mile? Is lending to the one who wants to borrow the extra mile, or is it lending to the one who does not want to borrow, or better still, giving to the one who wants to borrow? So, is ‘love your enemies’ the first mile or the extra mile? God loved us whilst we were yet His enemies, and sacrificed Jesus for us. That is what was done by God and therefore by Jesus, thus, the love of enemies is what Jesus has been doing and has done. Then when you look at it in the context of “anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these,”[5] you will see that love of enemies, forgiving of enemies, praying for them and doing good to them, are all the things that Jesus has been doing. Thus, to practise verses 42 to 48 is not going the extra mile but merely going the first mile, that is, doing what Jesus has done and has been doing.

So, if loving your enemies, praying for them, blessing them and doing good to them is merely going the first mile, what then is the true extra mile? The clue is in these words: “Do not even pagans do that?” What do pagans do when they are reunited with their long lost son or friend whom they thought was lost? Do they not rejoice and show tremendous joy of reunion? What do pagans do when they see their gods manifest at full power? Do they not rejoice? Do they not rejoice if their master or teacher who was killed is now raised from the dead? Indeed, there is nothing unique about the joy of the reunion that we could and would feel if we had been there on the Mount of Transfiguration that morning. Our rejoicing would be what pagans do. And even the rejoicing of the Father with Jesus, His only Begotten Son, is really not unique, for any loving pagan father would still rejoice at the sight of his son returning. Look at the father in the parable of the prodigal son. Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons…”[6] You will find that in this parable, Jesus did not tell us much of this man’s faith and relationship with God at all, merely that he is a wealthy man with property and servants, albeit a little bit doting. We are not told whether he is a Jew or a pagan or a Samaritan, just a man who had two sons; any man. Now look at the way he greeted his lost son and the rejoicing and joy that he had. He said to his first son, “But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”[7]

So that the joy of the reunion between the Father and the Son is not unique however great it is—it is not unique even to God. It is just that no disciple of Jesus Christ was present that morning on the Mount of Transfiguration to witness it, and thus not one of them could bear that witness in their lives with their lives. They experienced a joy of reunion with the Lord, yes, and as they ministered and were in danger, they experienced the joy of reunion many times, like when Peter was released from jail by the angel and Paul was restored to his congregations. But such joy is not unique to us, for as Jesus said, “Do not even pagans do that?” If anyone saw last night’s news item of Dr Haneef arriving home in Bangalore, was there not joy on his face and on the face of his friends?

So then, being witnesses to the joy of reunion between a father and a son is not unique to us disciples, except we missed out on what we should have seen. So, how then can we atone for it? How then can we make up for it? It is one thing to ask the Holy Spirit to show us what we missed out on, and an apology can be accepted as repentance. But how then do we atone for it like Zacchaeus did, who said, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount,” and Jesus said, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost”?[8]

We know of the joy of the reunion between an owner and what was lost. Jesus taught us that in the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin. So how much more we will rejoice over our lost brothers? But then, do not even pagans do that?

Look closely now at what Zacchaeus did when he repaid not twice, not three times, but four times of what he cheated. Imagine if you are the one Zacchaeus cheated, and instead of returning to you what was yours, he gave you back four times. That is a 300% return on your money or goods. Zacchaeus didn’t just repent and make atonement by returning what was lost to his victims, he turned himself from the one who cheated them to the one who enriched them. Instead of going the one mile, he went three extra miles. Now imaging the news of that reaching the ears of his victims and consider their reaction to Zacchaeus going to them, carrying four times as much as he cheated them. Zacchaeus is no longer the thief but rather the enricher. Not only are the victims reunited with their stolen goods, but they are presented with a profit beyond their dreams. Not only did Zacchaeus give his victims the joy of reunion with what was lost, but he gave them the joy of receiving a profit. How do you think his victims received their enemy? How do you think Zacchaeus was received by his enemies? Did they just forgive him, even pray for him, bless him and give him a word of advice for his troubles not to do it again? Or would you think it was possible they greeted him like a long lost friend, with joy, unexpected joy!

We failed to witness what was expected and we did not do what was expected. Remember what was said, believe what we heard and do what we were told. We failed to take Jesus at His word, again and again. It is written: The man took Jesus at His word and departed.[9] And that father was rewarded with the joy of reunion with his son. Had we learned to take Jesus at His word, then we would have gone at least that first mile, figuratively speaking, to the Mount of Transfiguration, but we did not, so now like Zacchaeus, we need to go the extra mile or four.

What then is the extra mile we need to go to atone for our mistake of missing out on the witness of the joy of reunion between God and His Son that will set us apart from the pagans? That is, the extra mile beyond “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who mistreat you.”[10] The command is the mile we go to be set apart from the pagans, yes, but to go the extra mile beyond what they do, and in this context, we are speaking of the joy of the reunion.

We can ask the Holy Spirit to show us what we missed out on, and so experience it and look forward to our reunion with Jesus when He arrives. But what can we do in the meantime while we are waiting for Jesus to arrive; that which will fulfil His command to go the extra mile when you have been commanded to go one? It is simply this, to develop not only the joy of reunion for the return of Christ, that is, to look forward joyfully to the arrival of Jesus on clouds of glory and to be with Him in the clouds, but to begin, yes, begin to think of the moment when you will next see your personal enemies again, those who have hated you, cheated you, lied about you, persecuted you, cursed you, and even harmed you.

You know how you have reacted in the past, at best giving them a friendly greeting, a cordial handshake of tolerance to show them you have forgiven them. Zacchaeus turned his enemies’ attitude towards him, or rather; Zacchaeus gave his victims the opportunity to turn their attitude towards him from one of anger, scorn and hatred to one of rejoicing at the sight of him. That is obvious, because he was arriving with four times the amount he cheated them out of. How can we learn to greet our enemies as if they were Zacchaeus coming to return to us four times what was cheated from us? For indeed, if we can greet our enemies, not cordially or warmly to show we have forgiven them and therefore love them as Christ commanded, but with the joy of reunion as if they were the Lord Himself coming to us, then indeed, I think, we have gone the extra mile and made atonement for what we cheated God of that morning on the Mount of Transfiguration.

Is it really so outrageous that we should learn to greet our enemies as if we were greeting Jesus? It is not, for if we were once enemies of God. So then Jesus Himself was once our Enemy. So, when we do see Jesus face to Face, are we not in truth seeing our former Enemy now Redeemer and Saviour, face to Face? If Zacchaeus was once the one who cheated his victims, would not his fourfold return and atonement of what was lost turn out to be redemption and salvation to some of his victims?

So then, if we begin to form in our hearts and spirits the determination that we will practise greeting our enemies with the joy of reunion of that which was lost, have we not truly gone the extra mile that which no pagan will or can do, or want to do? Is this something that we can do without the help of the Holy Spirit? It can be, but if we do it without Him, we have grieved Him for He holds in Him the witness of the joy of the reunion between the Father and the Son. And if He were to show us this precious gift and treasure, how would He expect us to invest it? Again, take your cue from Jesus who was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago.[11]

We know what Jesus did and what He might have preached, but do we know how He preached it? Was it with a condemning voice, or as One who came to say, “I told you so,” or as One who came to gloat? Or is it possible, is it just possible that He went into that prison preaching to them with joy, the joy of being reunited with those who were lost, but are now found? And indeed, with the joy of fulfilling His own words: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”[12] For He was lifted up as the Son of Man, as He said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the One I claim to be and that I do nothing on My Own, but speak just what the Father has taught Me.”[13] And as Son of Man, He went the extra mile and went to preach in prison when made alive by the Spirit and also made alive in the spirit, through which also He went… that is as the Holy Spirit made Him alive in the spirit, He went through the Holy Spirit in His spirit, not His flesh, to preach.

And preach He did, with a joy that tore down the gates of Hell and emptied a section of Hell to fulfil the word of God in part: “As for You, because of the blood of My Covenant with You, I will free Your prisoners from the waterless pit.”[14] It was after Jesus did that that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Holiness… declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.[15] Jesus may well have preached with the joy of reunion to those who were in that part of the prison He visited, and then was declared with power by the Holy Spirit in His Holiness, to be the Son of God. He went as the Son of Man, was lifted up as the Son of Man, sought the lost as Son of Man, but was declared the Son of God after He preached in prison.

And why would I say joy? For whatever Jesus did after He was made alive in the spirit by the Spirit must have so pleased the Holy Spirit that He declared Him Son of God. And what pleases the Holy Spirit? For what has the Holy Spirit laboured all this time for to be poured out on all flesh?[16] Is it not to bring more joy to those He loves as He convicts the lost sinners to repentance[17] and bring all the sons of Adam back to God as sons of Man and of God?

Is not the joy of reunion the strength of the Holy Spirit, the joy of seeing former enemies reunited as one family? The joy of seeing God reunited with sinners who were His enemies, as His lost sons? It is; and that being the case, what will happen if we have it in our hearts and minds to be determined to display the joy of reunion with our enemies, no, to treat our future reunion with our enemies with joy, the joy of reunion of former enemies who are now our family?

Truly then, it is the extra mile, and pagans do not and cannot do that, for they have not the witness of the Holy Spirit to give them that joy and strength. We cannot go back to the Mount of Transfiguration, and we are not yet at the Mount of Olives, but we are surrounded by enemies.

This we can do till Jesus arrives – practise reunion with our enemies with joy. If we can do that, then how much more the joy of reunion with Jesus? Truly then, we have made atonement for our sin of not remembering what we were told, not believing what we have heard and not obeying what we were commanded, Then we will have made atonement for not taking Jesus at His word. Greater things indeed shall we do. Amen.


 

[1] Matthew 5:41

[2] Matthew 5:39-40

[3] Leviticus 19:18 “…but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.” (‘hate your enemy’ is not quoted from the Law of Leviticus)

[4] Matthew 5:42-45a, 46

[5] John 14:12

[6] Matthew 21:28

[7] Luke 15:32

[8] Luke 19:8

[9] John 4:49

[10] Matthew 5:44/Luke 6:27-28

[11] 1 Peter 3:18-19

[12] Luke 19:10

[13] John 8:28

[14] Zechariah 9:11

[15] Romans 1:4

[16] Joel 2:28

[17] John 16:8-9

|


Notice: Use of undefined constant user_level - assumed 'user_level' in /home/holyspiritsworks/public_html/wordpress/wp-content/plugins/ultimate_ga.php on line 524

Notice: Use of undefined constant user_level - assumed 'user_level' in /home/holyspiritsworks/public_html/wordpress/wp-content/plugins/ultimate_ga.php on line 524