Go Further Than Asked
February 19th 2017 / Seventh Sunday after Epiphany
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 an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40 and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; 41 and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. 42 Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
Why Jesus commanded the second mile service?
While we listen to Jesus commanding us “go further than asked”, we might ask ourselves, “Why?”
Jesus says, “If someone forces you…, sues you…, asks you…, do not revenge or refuse to do what they ask or compel, but do something good for them, furthermore do more than they ask you.” Why? We might ask, “Why ever would we do that for our enemies?” Why ever?
We might think that praying for enemies is so much more difficult than not-hating them.
“Lord, please don’t command me to pray for my enemy. I can forget them and what they did against me, but I can’t pray for them Lord.” “Lord, I would rather try not to hate them, but don’t command me to pray for them. My heart doesn’t work for it.”
If we would consider the historical situation in the first century of Palestine and relationship between Jews and Romans, we might think that our complain—“Why ever would we do that for them?”—is a justifiable reaction to Jesus’ second mile commandment.
This is a call that seems wildly radical, but I believe that it is at the heart of what God wants for God’s people for the kingdom movement in this broken, injustice merciless world.
I found two purposes from the second mile commandment that I would like to share with you.
First, Jesus Christ calls us to live by grace, not by law.
The first mile is a mandated mile by law. As we watched the video and as I mentioned above, the first mile was forced by the law. Any Roman soldiers could force civilian to carry his pack a mile. It’s by law. Jesus is teaching here that we are not the people who live by the law, but by the grace. Do more than what law forces you. Help others more than how law demands you. Give mercy them more than law requires. You are the people of God and citizens of Heaven. Observe law of the earth and show them how the grace of God leads your life abundantly over the law, and how the grace of God embraces them regardless of differences.
Romans 6:14 says, “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” (NRSV) We are the people of grace which has been given us as gift. We receive it freely and we give it out freely for those who need it by going the second mile.
Second, the second mile is a miracle mile wining all evils in the world.
Jesus Christ is teaching us in today’s passage that we are the people of grace loving even our enemies that compel us to carry their burden a mile, but do not bear anger against them. Your Father in heaven wants you to win them only by the grace. Win any evil system of society, and unfair, injustice and excessive social structure only with grace that God provides you.
At the end of one mile, the Roman expects that the Jew will drop the pack to the ground and run away. Service is done. But not imagine that same soldier at the end of the one mile if the man took an extra step—One more mile. Can you picture the soldier’s face now? He might ask the Jew, as the video shows, why he break the law or why he go further than law forces. Then the Jew talks about Jesus who taught his disciples to go the second mile.
He seeks kindness instead of hatred. Willingness instead of obligation. Joy instead of bitterness. In this moment, he comes face to face with the heart of God. The heart of a Christina becomes the window through which God reveals God-self to the world.
1 John 5:4 says, “For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.” (NLT)
Second-mile living is an invitation to look into the faces of those with whom we walk and see the wonder and vulnerability that play across eyes that see God’s grace for the first time. Jesus points to the moment, telling us it is an opportunity to extend God’s grace, show God’s love, demonstrate God’s kindness, and reveal the Savior’s love.
Walk the second mile. Walk by the grace. Walk for the peace. Walk for the Kingdom of God and God’s glory.
In this simple call to walk a second mile, Jesus defines the purpose of His people. Second-milers are people who deliberately look for opportunities to show God’s grace to others, as His love—Agape—is an intentional love for only other’s well-being with no-expectation of reward.
Second-mile living in one-mile world.
We live in a one-mile world. A world that settles for just enough to get by. A one-mile world demands that we look out for ourselves, count our steps, and drop back when it is not longer to our advantage. A one-mile world demands that we focus on self, harden our hearts to the needs of others, and close our fists in preparation to fight for our “rights.”
Second-mile living is a call to walk differently in this world. Following in the steps of Jesus demands that our focus move from self to the Savior and most self to others. Our hearts must be tender to the need of this world that lacks Jesus. Our hands must be open for others to see God working in our lives. Going the second mile offers a powerful vision of what living a Christ-filled life will look like.
There is a single mom with three kids. She loves to go to church. She and her kids always sit on the back row during the worship service. No one sits down beside them—her and her kids. Her kids are too noisy and sometimes youngest one would cry loudly. But she never missed church. She does the best what she can do. She holds strongly faith in Christ.
One Monday morning, her telephone rings. She answers the phone, but doesn’t recognize who calls her. The voice over the phone says, “My kids know your kids form Sunday school. If you don’t have any other appointment, can your kids come and play?”
The second-mile living. It’s a simple practice of the second-mile living that our Lord commands us.
How about calling or visiting your neighbor and inviting them to Shrove Community Pancake Supper? How about visiting your neighbor and asking them to come to our prayer breakfast gathering? How about setting your time and money a little aside to shop some snacks for the troops in combat zone? How about spending some time in prayer about having a second-mile heart and second-mile eyes?
These all demands your intentional effort to walk more than the world expect. But it reveals our God’s grace and Christ’s love toward the world, and the people who experience the grace and love will be transformed in Christ. We believe it, as Jesus believe it.
Second-mile service is about talking on our heart of service. It is about walking with Jesus and seeing every encounter as a chance to be transparent so that others can see our Lord filling and guiding our lives. And second-mile service is about being so amazed by God’s grace that we can’t help sharing that amazement with others.
We’ve been called to live this life—second-mile living—as His disciples and God’s children. Friends in Zion UMC, let’s keep walking this path of the second-mile commitment for the glory of God and for this broken world.
I want you to remember that Jesus took uncountable miles for you and me. He took the journey to the Cross to save us. “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8) Remember Him going eternal mile for us. We are the most beautiful second-miler’s followers.
May God bless abundantly our second-mile living, second-mile ministry and second-mile heart in Christ. Amen.
Bill Rasco Second Mile Servant, 21st Century Christian, 2011
Mark Harding and Alanna Nobbs, The Content and the Setting of the Gospel Tradition, Eerdmans, 2010
Melvin Blackaby, Going the Second Mile: Letting God Take You Beyond Yourself, Multnomah, 2006