Do We Know Better Than Jesus?

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Do We Know Better Than Jesus?

Post by Paidion » Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:42 pm

As recorded in Matthew 5:38-41, Jesus taught His disciples non-resistance:

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.

So many of us scoff at the idea of not resisting an evil person. "What are you going to do?" it is argued. "Just let him rape your wife or kill your little daughter? If we don't stop evil people from committing their atrocities, evil will become increasingly prevalent. The only way to reduce the spread of evil, is to prevent evil people from carrying out their evil works. If, in doing so, it is necessary to maim or kill the evil person, then to do so is the morally right thing to do. Only in that way can we defeat evil and promote harmony among people."

In His teaching, Jesus went on to say (as recorded in verses 43-45):

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.

I think we could agree that if everyone always did good to all others and always refrained from violence, then we would live in a wonderful world in which existed only peace, well-being, and good will. Ahhhh. but there's the rub! Not everyone will do that. So good people have to resist evil people and even maim or kill them if necessary. It is the only way in which we can protect ourselves. We are not bold enough to say that Jesus was wrong. But to be honest, we would have to admit that He was.

Is this form of reasoning rational?

Consider this. A raging fire breaks out within a building in which there are hundreds of people. They rush toward a door that opens inwardly. But everyone nearby thinking chiefly of himself tries to get out but to no avail, for many people who want the same are crowding against the door, preventing it from being opened.

You are right up there at the door, trying to open it and get out, but both you as well as the others who are trying to do the same, prevent anyone from opening the door. A voice cries out, "Get away from the door so that it can be opened, and some people will have the opportunity to get out!" What are you going to do?

If you and the others pull back from the door, others will open it and rush out while you will be burned to death! Yet this is the only way that anyone will be saved from certain death by fire. And also, it is the only possibility for saving yourself!

So it is true that if you do not resist an evil person, he may kill you and your loved ones. But do you know that to be the case? What if he sees your good will toward him and changes his mind about the evil that he had intended to so? As long as you resist him, try to stop him, or maim him, or kill him, he will be more determined that even to carry out his evil intentions.

Jesus wasn't wrong in His teachings to His disciples. He knew the hearts of people!

Man judges a person by his past deeds, and administers penalties for his wrongdoing. God judges a person by his present character, and disciplines him that he may become righteous.

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Re: Do We Know Better Than Jesus?

Post by Homer » Wed Mar 20, 2019 9:39 am

Hi Paidion,

I recall in one of his books Joachim Jeremias stated that all Jesus' remarks regarding self defense were in regard to being persecuted as a Christian. What would you say to that?

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Re: Do We Know Better Than Jesus?

Post by Darrell » Wed Mar 20, 2019 12:20 pm

Regarding Matt.5:38-41
It seems to me that when Jesus spoke these words it was in the context of legal disputes and lawsuits. “An eye for an eye, tooth for tooth” was part of the Jewish civil law given as a guideline to the Judges concerning the loss of things which couldn’t be restored. Exo.21:22-27; Lev.24:19,20; Deu. 19:18-21 It was a way of exacting justice in that it kept or limited someone from demanding or going beyond what was lost. It was perfectly just, it was perfectly fair but it lacked mercy. It was also a law, that although just, allowed revenge or retaliation.

Often when we read teachings like this, a person (me) has the tendency to do so from the standpoint of being the one injured or wronged (the victim) but what if I’m the one on trial for causing my neighbor to lose a tooth?
"You have heard that it was said, 'AN EYE FOR AN EYE AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.' But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”
Maybe the (evil) person isn’t satisfied with just one tooth. When I turn the other cheek I’ve offered him more than I’ve taken from him. If I’ve caused my neighbor to lose his coat and he sues me for restoration and I give him my cloak also, have I not given him more than I’ve taken from him?
In any case, shouldn’t the phrase “resist not the evil person” be understood and applied to our lives within the context which the LORD spoke them: “An eye for an eye… if anyone sues you….”?

Regarding Matt 5:43-45
Loving our enemy, when applied looks exactly the same as loving our neighbor/friends/family. What does that mean? That I do good to them. That I treat them the way I want to be treated in my daily living. An example of this is found in Exo. 23:4,5.

I don’t think Jesus is addressing the matter of “self-defense” in either of these passages of scripture. In fact I’ve come to believe that the New Testament is pretty much silent on the topic of self-defense – in the strictest definition. The main reason I came to this conclusion is because there are millions of horrible/ absurd scenarios that people come up with either to justify self-defense or condemn it and none have easy answers (I will gladly and humbly as possible endure any criticism and rebuke concerning my belief) but whatever circumstances we find ourselves in Jesus calls us to act in love to all involved including self.

Generally speaking, a predator trying to club me over the head so that he can rob me is not persecuting me for being a christian. He simply wants the money in my pocket and all he has to do is ask. When a predator attempts to rape a woman or child, I doubt his motivation for doing so is because “they believe in Jesus.” In other words it’s not persecution.

In Deu. 22:23-27 we find an example of (possible) rape. If it happened in the city (where people could hear) and the woman resisted/ cried out for help it was considered rape. If it happened in a remote place where no one could hear her cry it too is considered rape because it is assumed that she resisted/ cried out for help. If she didn’t cry out/resist she was considered a willing participant and suffered the same penalty as the predator - death.
It is understood that she resisted the violence or she was considered guilty of being an accomplice. There is something else to be understood here though, when she cried out for help good men and women would come to her rescue and stop the rape. Why? Because that is love.

Following are some of the questions I struggle with, perhaps you can answer them:
If I passively allow someone to murder me, how am I not an accomplice?

How is passively allowing someone to commit such a grievous sin as murder loving them?

Does loving my enemy (a predator) come at the expense of loving my neighbor or my family?

Why would the one supersede the other and why would giving place to evil take priority over doing that which is good?

When this topic came up a few months ago I very much appreciated something that was posted by SteveF…
“I heard someone say hypothetically that if it was your own child assaulting your wife you would obviously do whatever is necessary to protect your wife, but wouldn't want to do anything more than necessary towards your child since you love both of them.”

Blessings - d

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