But I Say
By Dr. Carol J Miller
This Scripture is part of what we call “the Sermon on the Mount.” Jesus is teaching his disciples many, many things. In the part we are reading today, Jesus is changing the Bible! He is taking some of the older parts of the Bible and saying, “We’re not going to do it that way any more.”
Well, we can’t just do that. You can’t just say, “Let’s change what the Bible says.” We can’t change the Bible to make it say: “Parents, thou must take thy children out for hamburgers and fries whenever they want.”
The only one who could change the Bible would be God––or someone who has God’s permission to change things. Hmmmm, who would that be? [Respect all answers]. Jesus, of course!
Let’s see what Jesus changed. There is a place in the Hebrew Scriptures that says if one man hits another man and that man loses a tooth, his tribe can take a tooth from the man that did the hitting. Wow, that’s pretty harsh, isn’t it! Why would the Bible say that it is OK to take out someone’s tooth if he knocked out yours?
Well, can anyone guess what happened BEFORE that law? What do you think the people did if a man knocked out another man’s tooth? [Accept all answers]. One of the things that might have happened is the lost tooth man might get his family together to have a battle with the hitter and his family! People might even have gotten killed. The one tooth rule was intended to put a limit on the revenge that someone could take.
But Jesus tells his disciples that they can do a lot better than the one tooth law. Here is the new law: if someone hits you (remember that Jesus is talking to grown ups, not to kids. This is not for dealing with bullies), if someone hits you, grown up disciple, do not hit back.
Wow, that’s harder than the one tooth rule. Jesus wants his disciples to be different. If a man gets hit, he doesn’t do the same bad thing in return. Jesus’ followers don’t copycat the bad things that happen to us.
As you grow, the church and your parents will teach you many things about what God is like and about God’s commandments. If you listen carefully, you will grow up to be a person who does not do what the bad person does. Instead, you will follow what God says is best. And that will change your whole life.
Copyright 2013, Richard Niell Donovan