We’re back in the book of Matthew, taking us through until Advent! This Sunday marks the beginning of Part Two of this multi-part, multi-year series. It’s a lot of Matthew, folks. We’ll be picking up where we left off
So why did we choose Matthew? The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the earliest biographies of Jesus, presenting Jesus not as a mere historical figure, but as “good news” for the world that should reshape every part of life. To listen to any sermon from Part One of the series, visit the Matthew series archive. To listen to the first sermon from Part Two, join us online or in-person on Sunday.
However you join us, here’s how you can prepare this week:
1. Read our text, Matthew 5:38–42.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”
The concept of retributive justice—embodied in the term “an eye for an eye”—has been a hallmark of many societies throughout world history. This concept was core to the instructions for civil justice given to ancient Israel in the Mosaic Law. It seems equitable that someone who has caused pain to another human should be punished with a penalty that is proportionate to their offense. Although this approach to justice may have its place in broken human societies, Jesus is calling His Kingdom people to be marked by something far more transformative than retaliation: sacrificial love.
“Turn the other cheek” is one of the most radical and controversial teachings of Jesus. It may seem like He is calling His people to be passive doormats who allow themselves to get trampled on by others, but that’s not what He is doing. He is calling for His people to actively respond to wrongs that they have suffered by choosing to absorb the offense in order to show sacrificial love to the offender, while trusting in God’s commitment to execute justice. This kind of love, radical though it may be, has the power to bring transformation to relationships and communities. And this is exactly the kind of love that Jesus embodied in His mission to transform our hearts and redeem the world.
2. Read, pray, and sing through the service:
Don’t use Spotify? Click the song title below to see song on YouTube.
CALL TO WORSHIP: Ephesians 2:1–2, 5:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world… But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved…
CONFESSION OF SIN: From Thou, Dear God by Martin Luther King, Jr.:
Oh God, our gracious heavenly Father,
we thank Thee for the inspiration of Jesus the Christ.
And grant that we will love Thee with all of our hearts, souls, and minds,
and love our neighbors as we love ourselves,
even our enemy neighbors.
And we ask Thee, oh God, in these days of emotional tension,
when the problems of the world are gigantic in extent and chaotic in detail,
to be with us in our going out and our coming in,
in our rising up and in our lying down,
in our moments of joy and in our moments of sorrow,
until the day when there shall be no sunset and no dawning. Amen.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON: Romans 5:6–8
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
PASSING THE PEACE
(Click to Read)
When we’ve met as a large group on Sundays, we’ve always had a time of greeting one another after singing. Many churches call this time “passing the peace.” In some church traditions, one person will say to another, “The peace of Christ be with you” to which the other person responds, “And also with you.”
While potentially unfamiliar for some, we felt that “passing the peace” during greeting times at home could be a powerful act in this age marked by very little external peace. In Isaiah 9, Jesus is described as the Prince of Peace. He wants His kingdom to be marked by this very peace! We want to “pass” to one another this peace that only Jesus can give, especially at a time like this.
It might feel a bit cheesy, but we encourage you to actually pray the peace of God over each other during our times. We encourage you to look into each other’s eyes as you say, “The peace of Christ be with you!” and have others respond with, “And also with you.” Be open-hearted to Jesus, asking Him to fill you with His peace.