Upside Down Kingdom: The Law of Retaliation & Love for Neighbor Restored | Curtis Hall

July 3, 2022 Speaker: Curtis Hall Series: Upside Down Kingdom: Sermon on the Mount

Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 5:38–48

Matt 5:38-48 1 

INTRO: Good morning, Mercy Fellowship. Hope you are all doing well this morning. If you  don’t know me, my name is Curtis, I serve as an elder in training and am honored to be  preaching this morning. We are continuing our series that we are in over the Summer called ‘The  Upside Down Kingdom,’ looking at Jesus’ Sermon On The Mount. If you have a Bible, Matthew  5 is where we are going to be today, so you can open up to verse 38, and as you’re doing so, let  me share with you all where I have been the last few months.  

Think about how you grew up for a minute, and as you’re thinking about how you grew up I’ll  tell you a bit about me. I’ve brought it up before but growing up I didn’t like team sports,  although I participated in them for a few years, but what really caught my attention was  skateboarding. I loved skateboarding. It was free in the sense that it was void of being a group  sport and when you start a sport though, you try to find guys you could imitate and be like and  that gave you something to aim at and pursue so you could work at getting better at your craft. I  remember one skateboarder in particular I really enjoyed had just become a new pro for only a  couple years and bought a 2 bedroom 1 bath house in California and somewhere around 12 of his  friends moved in and what they would do was skate all day and party all night and I remember  seeing that as a kid and thinking ‘I know what I want to do with my life.’ I wanted to be this guy.  The issue was though, I was 12 and my brain hadn’t fully formed, so as I got older I realized that  was a horrible idea to aim at. 

There was this tension I felt though because I wanted this careless lifestyle I saw the  skateboarders have but at home, there was still rules. My Mom made sure I did my chores, I ate  the right food, I did my homework. There were laws at home. But I look back now as an adult, so  grateful for the laws that my Mom had put in place in the home, because it lead me to succeed in  life. 

If you grew up with a good parents or guardians, there were rules in the house and those  rules were created for your flourishing. You parents, you do this with your kids, where you have  family rules that bring an atmosphere of flourishing for the purpose of success. 

And when it comes to our Father in heaven, it is exactly like that. Our father has  created laws or instructions not for our punishment, but for our flourishing. For the purpose of  succeeding in this world. And it should be noted that I am not talking about success in terms of  finances or awards, because that is not how God sees it. God sees success as being a person of  character that imitates Jesus. The word for that is holiness. That’s what Jesus is talking about  here in the SOTM. 

Final thing before we read the scriptures, I don’t want us to miss this, we do not follow God’s  law to earn His favor rather, if we’ve placed our faith in Jesus we’ve already been accepted into  the Kingdom of God. And on the other side of being part of the family of God is obeying the  family rules. These are meant for our flourishing, not for our demise.

Matt 5:38-48 2 


38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to  you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the  other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.  41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs  from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. 

- Culture nor religion are always right: 

Jesus in the first verse is quoting to them an OT law in what was a section on laws of  retaliation (Exodus 21) . In fact in the OT, it continues on with this repetition for with concluding  a life for a life. So if you hurt me, that same pain you inflicted on me, I get to do to you.  

These laws were created for the purpose of preventing inappropriate punishments. You want  punishments that would match the crime. So such laws like these existed for Israel.  

But the whole reason that Jesus is bringing up the law is this; He is pushing back against  how the culture and the religious viewed the law. Earlier in Jesus sermon, He says “I Have not  come to abolish the law, but to fulfill them.” He’s addressing on one side, the bend that culture  tends to go and that is towards abolishing of laws. The technical term for this, is antinomianism,  which means anti-law. It’s when we look at the law that our God has given us and think that it is  cold, callous, oppressive to our progress as some wrongfully say. The problem with this view  however, is that the culture views the law void of the law-giver. It views the law void of the  heavenly Father who loves us and Jesus who shed His blood for us.  

Consequently though on the other side, is the religious spirit of Jesus’ day, that was found  in the scribes and pharisees, who would add to the law for their selfish gain but it would be done  at the cost of greater suffering for others. In Mark 7, Jesus rebukes the pharisees because they are  working their way around God’s law and Jesus says to them “You leave the commandments of  God and hold to the tradition of men.” The problem with this view is that God’s law is not  enough to lead to human flourishing, so we feel we must add to it or rewrite it if we are going to  be truly free people.  

Trust In The Father: 

What this all really boils down to though, wether you lean more in the cultural direction  of abolishing laws or in the religious direction of adding more laws, is a lack of trust in our  heavenly Father. That He is really good and that He really has our best interest in mind. Do you  trust, your Father in heaven this morning? Do you see His kindness to you in how He gives you  direction in life, rather than telling you to figure it out?           103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through your  precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. 105 Your word is a lamp to my  feet and a light to my path. - (Psalms 119:103-105)

Matt 5:38-48 3 

Jesus, our savior, our friend, comes along though and doesn’t say that He has abolished  the law. He doesn’t say He’s added to it, rather He has fulfilled it, meaning that it all points  towards Him. The correct interpretation of the law is the one, that has Jesus as our example. 

Character over Chaos: 

And the example He gives on restoring the law of retaliation, is one that ‘does not  resist the one who is evil.’ What does that mean? It’s hard because in other places in the Bible it  explicitly says resist the devil in more than one way.  

What I believe it means, is that God has set up structures such as government, police and  soldiers for suppressing evil, but when it comes to individuals, Jesus is saying that we don’t seek  personal revenge. A helpful tool to seek clarity in the bible is allowing scripture to interpret  scripture, so for the sake of clarity, look at what the Apostle Paul says.  

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who  rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but  associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give  thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live  peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is  written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is  hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap  burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. -  (Romans 12:14-21) 

When we chase after another with a personal vendetta it becomes like a drug, to where  we are never satisfied until we have our revenge. And it becomes this carousel of chaos where  you hurt me, I’ll hurt you. You hurt me, I’ll hurt you and Paul is saying you want overcome this?  Rather than being overcome by evil, overcome evil with good. How do we overcome evil with  good? 

Turn the other cheek. It would be better for you and me to turn the other cheek than seek  revenge. We give more to the one who is taken from us. We go farther than someone asks us to  go. We give to one who begs and do not refuse one who seeks to borrow from us.  

We could dig into each separately, but for the sake of time, what they all have in common  is prioritizing relenting over revenge. Seeking the common good over the destructive paths of  evil. Pursuing character over chaos. 

Jesus Fulfills Retaliation: There are certainly times, where it is good to fight against evil  and flee evil. Even Jesus fled on numerous occasions when they sought to stone Him or throw  him off a cliff. So Jesus is not prohibiting self-defense. Rather, Jesus gives us an example of how  to overcome evil with good. Prior to you trusting in Jesus, you rejected him more than once, and  He didn’t flee from your rejection. You and me, we selfishly before knowing Jesus, were begging  for all the gifts that He has created with out acknowledging where they have come from.

Matt 5:38-48 4 

Jesus turned the other cheek when you insulted Him. Jesus gave more to you when you were  taking from Him. Jesus went further than anyone asked Him to go for your soul. Jesus gave to us  as beggars and has never refused us once.  

Do you see the great lengths with which Jesus has reached out to you? In the law we see  clearly our failures of obeying it, but we also see the love of Jesus in perfectly fulfilling it for us.  Where you and I have failed in obeying these laws, Jesus has succeeded for the purpose of  reconciling us to God. And Jesus overcame the evil in you and me, by His goodness and  kindness towards us.  

Jesus restores the law of retaliation and continues to restore for us the law of loving our neighbor. 


43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may  be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good,  and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward  do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your’  brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You  therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. - (Matthew 5:43-48) 

As Jesus restores the correct meaning of the law for loving our neighbors, unlike the  previous law, he highlights how the religious have rewritten this law. The correct law is ‘Love  your neighbor as yourself.’ (Lev. 19:18) *The phrase of their day 

This plays itself out in very real ways in our cultural moment. With all the divide we have  nationally right now, it is so easy to make an enemy out of anyone who doesn’t look like us or  doesn’t agree with us. Furthermore, perhaps some of you come in here today and have been hurt;  emotionally, physically, spiritually. And perhaps you may never say this out loud, but in your  heart, you’ve felt that these people that have hurt you are your enemy.  

EX: It was about a couple weeks ago, I was taking a walk after work around the area we live and  was praying as well. During this prayer-walk though I felt really convicted by God about how I  was living my life. As I was praying I believe God revealed to me some areas of my life that  need to change. One of which was that my time on social media was unhealthy. I was not  stewarding the time that God had given me well, to where there would be a lot of time doom  scrolling on social media, and the result of that was that I found myself making enemies of  people I disagreed with and in so doing dehumanizing them. I would engage with other people  on these platforms in UnChrist-like ways and as I was dehumanizing others. 

I found myself becoming more and dehumanized myself and less Christ-like. The result of all of  that was I found myself burned out, and exhausted from all the constant rhetoric of being on  these rage machines while everyone is debating who is right. 

Matt 5:38-48 5 

So I felt convicted of that, and repented, because there has to be a better way to live than that.  There has to be something and someway of becoming more truly human than what social media  creates in me. Knowing I was going to be preaching in a couple weeks I opened up my bible and  read the section of scripture I was covering and read “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall  love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies.” I was not loving  those I viewed as an enemy.  

Jesus, shares a story with us on what it looks like to love our enemies in Luke 10, The Parable  of the Good Samaritan: 

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to  inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”  27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your  soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And  he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”29 But he, desiring to  justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  

30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers,  who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest  was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a  Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan,  as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to  him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and  brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and  gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay  you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man  who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to  him, “You go, and do likewise.” 

This morning, who do you find in your heart you’ve made an enemy? As Jesus commands us to,  love them. How do we love?  

Loving enemies: We love in word: This means sometimes, speaking the truth but it may also  mean keeping your opinion to yourself. You don’t have to share everything you disagree with  about a person. 

We love in deed: We give food and drink and clothes and care for those whom we disagree with.  We love in Prayer: Pray for those who persecute you can also be translated pray for those who  cause you to suffer. Bring it to God. Bring the pain that has been caused to you to your heavenly  Father and He will comfort you in your affliction. 

Matt 5:38-48 6 

Thoughts on Roe v. Wade: 

All of this talk makes me think of the recent supreme court decision of Roe V. Wade that was  overturned by the federal court, sending it down to the states to make the decision on abortion.  First off, I believe we should rejoice in this decision and praise God. This has been 50 years of  God’s people praying and God has answered. The works not done either, it’s only half-time. 

However, when it comes to our interactions with people who are pro-choice, we make the  effort to love them. We don’t lay over in the face of evil, we seek to expose it. But we also don’t  seek revenge on people we identify as our enemies. As followers of Jesus, we thread the needle  of pursuing justice and righteousness while loving and giving mercy to those whom we disagree  with.  

And the reason/purpose we love our enemies, church is because Jesus says “so that you may be  sons of your Father who is in heaven.” The perspective of heaven is one that loves its enemies,  while the perspective of earth is one that hates its enemies. Tony Evans, who’s one of my favorite  preachers said “When there is a heavenly perspective, earth has to adjust to it.” 


And the reason we do this is because of how God related to us, prior to us knowing or loving  Him. Romans 5:8 says “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ  died for us.” We sing in this church the song “In Tenderness” which begins by saying “In  Tenderness he sought me.” The Apostle Paul even mentions in Romans that it is the kindness of  God that leads us to repentance.  

We follow the heavenly perspective and let the world follow theirs. So be focused on following  Jesus and let Him do the rest. We have these laws from our heavenly Father that are given for our  flourishing and not our destruction. But here’s the catch, how many of you want to say this  morning you’ve loved your enemies? How many of you want to say you’ve turned the other  cheek towards your enemies? We have all failed in obeying them. We have all sought retaliation  at some point and have all hated our enemies at some point.  

In the law we see clearly our failures of obeying it, but we also see the love of Jesus in perfectly  fulfilling it, for us. So if we don’t come to Jesus with our good works of obeying the law, what  do we come to him with? *Rock of Ages 

You don’t fulfill the law church, Jesus does, and that is good news.