Daily Devotion for September 12, 2009
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer for the Spirit
Christ Jesus, before ascending into heaven, You promised to send the Holy Spirit to Your apostles and disciples.
Grant that the same Spirit may perfect in my life the work of Your grace and love.
Grant me the Spirit of Fear of the Lord that I may be filled with a loving reverence toward You.
the Spirit of Piety that I may find peace and fulfillment in the service of God while serving others;
the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You and, with courage, overcome the obstacles that interfere with my salvation;
the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know You and know myself and grow in holiness;
the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your truth;
the Spirit of Counsel that I may choose the surest way of doing Your will, seeking first the Kingdom;
Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may aspire to the things that last forever;
Teach me to be Your faithful disciple and animate me in every way with Your Spirit.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Gospel of Matthew 5:38-48
The Sermon on the Mount [Part 6] - Turning the Other Cheek
You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth'; but I say, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other cheek to him.
And if any man goes to the law, and takes away your coat, let him have your cloak also. If someone makes you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to him who asks you, and do not turn away him who wants to borrow from you.
You have heard, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy'. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you, that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.
For if you love them that love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the publicans do this? And if you greet only your friends, what more are you doing than anyone else? Do not even the Gentiles do this?
You should be perfect in this, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
King James Version
17 Whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death.
18 Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, animal for animal.
19 If a man causes disfigurement of his neighbor, as he has done, so shall it be done to him—
20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him.
21 And whoever kills an animal shall restore it; but whoever kills a man shall be put to death.
Notes on the Scripture
Publicans and Gentiles
The Hebrews of Christ's time considered themselves (with some justification) morally superior to others. Various terms were used to refer to people who did not follow or recognize God's law: "Gentiles","Greeks" and "others" are common. When Christ says, "Do not the Gentiles do this?" (greet their friends politely or warmly in public), he means that there is no moral significance to doing so. For a Hebrew to greet a friend in public is a natural human act, not a religious gesture.
Publicans were not simply outside God's law, but were actively hated. Rome at the time of Christ did not have the extensive bureaucracy it would develop in later years. The collection of taxes in colonies, such as Judea, was licensed to private enterprise.
A man would bid at auction for the right to collect taxes in a certain colony. The winner paid the amount of his bid to the Roman treasury. Whatever he could collect in taxes was then his to keep. If he collected less than the amount of his bid, he lost money. If he collected a lot more, he made a lot of money. This made for some very sharp tax collection.
These private tax collectors were called "publicans", private persons performing a public function (something like modern day bounty hunters or mercenary soldiers). Also, like a mercenary soldier, their actions did not have whatever honor might attach from serving one's country. They were, understandably, both feared and despised by the people of the colonies in which they collected taxes.
So Christ, by telling the Jews that they act no better than the publicans in this regard, would have shocked his audience. It is a repugnant and revolutionary claim, the beginning of the doctrine that will ultimately enrage the Jewish government and precipitate his execution.