Sun 24 Jan Revenge is a powerful emotion. It drives us to do more things we normally would not contemplate. It occurs more frequently than we realize. The last time we were cut off by a driver on a roundabout - did we want to get even? We were picked on at school - did you want to retaliate in some way? You were passed over for a promotion at work - did you feel anger rising?
Revenge is a big issue. Something within us stirs when we sense that justice has been usurped. In these few verses in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addresses what is for many a very emotional issue. Just what is an appropriate response when we have been wronged by someone? Do we strike back with full force? Do we act as a doormat and allow anybody and everybody to walk all over us?
Jesus takes people back to the law. The concept of an "eye for an eye" was designed to limit the vengeance that could take place. It was for the court to decide what punishment would fit the crime so that justice was carried out.
A series of four illustrations are given which would drive the best of us to want to seek revenge. Yet continually through these verses Jesus challenges His followers not to be vindictive or vengeful when people wrong us.
Paul would write to Christians living in Rome, "Do not take revenge my friends, but leave room for God's wrath" (12:19). As Jesus hung on the cross He asked this of His Father, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23L34). How do you respond when someone wrongs you?