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17. Jesus and the Law of Retaliation [Lex Talionis] (Matthew 5:38-42)

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I. Introduction.185

A few months ago, I read the following all-too-typical news report on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict:

“Israel sent helicopters to kill a senior Hamas political leader in the crowded streets of Gaza on Tuesday but failed, leaving two other Palestinians dead and 27 wounded. The missile attack threatened to rekindle a cycle of violence and wreck the peace effort. The strike against Abdel Rantisi drew vows of vengeance from the Islamic militant group, which threatened new suicide bombings and attacks on Israeli political leaders.

“Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made clear Israel would not restrain its troops from retaliating against militants, despite U.S. efforts to push forward the peace plan. Rantisi was the most high-profile Hamas political leader to be targeted by Israel, and the violence threatened a return to the spiral of attack and retaliation that has ruined past peace plans.

“Israel insisted Rantisi is an ‘arch terrorist’ whom the Palestinians should have moved against earlier. ‘He is an enemy of peace, an enemy of everyone who seeks peace in the Middle East,’ a Sharon aide said. ‘We actually are saving the peace process by trying to take out such people.’

“Thousands of Hamas supporters crowded the courtyard outside Shifa Hospital, chanting slogans against Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen. ‘Abu Mazen, we want resistance,’ the crowded shouted.

“A Hamas leader, said there would be quick retaliation: ‘The Hamas response will be like an earthquake.’ ‘An eye for an eye … a politician for a politician,’ he said.”186

In another setting in the Middle East, there was an interfaith dialogue going on between a Christian leader and a Muslim cleric. They were discussing the differences between Islam and Christianity. The cleric stated that the difference is simple: “Christianity teaches that when struck you should turn the other cheek; however, Islam teaches than when you are struck you strike him back – this is better for you and him.”187

To bring the issue a little closer to home, one night my family and I were sitting at the dinner table. My daughter Keilah asked a thought-provoking question. She said, “If my brother hits me, is it okay if I hit him back?” Of course, our answer was that she come to appropriate authorities on the matter – Mom or Dad.

Too much of the world’s ethic is to: 1) strike back; 2) get even; 3) do unto others like they do to you. Many times the justification for retaliation is that ancient law, “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.188 I have to admit that this retaliatory ethic to right an injustice is appealing to part of me, especially initially when I feel I have been wronged.

But Jesus says “No” to using “an eye for an eye” as justification for personal revenge. Instead, He says “turn the other cheek,” “go the extra mile,” “turn over two garments if sued for one,” and “give to the one who asks from you.” Jesus’ teaching is not merely legal and technical, but extends deeply and profoundly into the practical situations of conflict, oppression, and the needs of everyday life.

Matthew 5:38-42 reads:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.”

These verses have been described by many in the following ways:

1. The hard sayings of Jesus

2. The most difficult verses in the Bible

3. Hyperbole and impossible

4. Commands for another world

Jesus’ teaching here is confronting the popular misuse and abuse of the Old Testament law, known as the law of retaliation, in Latin, “the Lex Talionis.” The law of “life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth,” etc.

II. Three Questions to Ask.

Jesus’ instruction on this passage raises several questions for us to consider.

First, what is the relationship between Jesus’ teaching and the Old Testament law of an eye for an eye?

Second, what is the contrast between His teaching and that of the Jewish leadership and populace? Jesus stated earlier that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. And we are in the fifth antithesis or contrasting formula, “You have heard that it was said … but I say to you” in the Sermon on the Mount.

Third, what does Jesus require of His disciples? Does the teaching go beyond what we as Christians are able to realistically do? Does it push us to our ethical limits? Does it take us to the “edge of the possible”?

III. The Law of Eye for Eye in the Old Testament.

So let’s start with looking at this law in the Old Testament.

Imagine yourself for a moment in an ancient situation where you and your family lived in a place with no police force, no courts, no local, state, or federal government – no king or other authority ruling over you or the people around you. Then one day as you are going about your business, you are shocked with the news that one of your neighbors had intentionally and maliciously hit your daughter so hard that four of her teeth are permanently knocked out. What would you do? There is no authority to report it to – to seek justice. What if the situation was worse, and your child was intentionally killed? You would probably want to take the matter into your own hands and seek retribution, maybe even to the point of blood revenge. Perhaps you would try to impose the same type of injury on the attacker that he imposed. Maybe you would even want to punish him in greater degree than his offense. After you take revenge, the attacker’s family may feel that they have been mistreated and may want to respond, setting up a cycle of retaliation and revenge between you and them – the Hatfields and the McCoys so to speak.

Genesis 34 records an actual incident like this between Jacob’s family and the family of Shechem. After Jacob’s daughter Dinah is physically abused, Dinah’s brothers, Simeon and Levi, seek revenge by first deceiving Shechem’s family into getting men circumcised, and then they take the retaliatory action of killing all the males. Of course, it is clear from later in Genesis 49:5-7 that God did not approve of this action.

So the institution of the lex talionis into the Mosaic law for the nation of Israel and the ruling authorities was, I believe, a real advancement for the cause of justice designed to prevent personal actions of retaliation and revenge. The injured person or relative of the injured person could go to the governing judicial authority in Israel to seek justice. But what should the appropriate punishment be in the case of murder or maiming? This is where the law comes into play: “a life for a life,” “an eye for an eye,” “a tooth for a tooth.” The punishment must fit the crime – no more than the crime but also no less. It was strict but fair. It was also designed to prevent and deter such crimes. It was there to remove punitive actions for crimes from the hands of the victim and his family and put them into the hands of the governing judicial system. It was designed as a principle of proportional justice. It was also designed to appropriately punish the offender.

This is the irony and abuse of how people misunderstand this law. It is misunderstood now the same way it was misunderstood at the time of Jesus. A law that was designed to prevent actions of personal retaliatory revenge is used to justify it!

The misunderstanding of the law would say if someone slaps you on the cheek, slap him back (after all “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”). If someone sues you, sue him back. If you are forced to go a mile by a Roman soldier, resist and fight back. Jesus is trying to confront that type of teaching and mindset.

Let me be clear that God wants us to take actions of personal revenge out of our hands. We can turn them over to the governmental authorities if appropriate, and even if that doesn’t work, we need to turn them over to God Himself. As Paul states in Romans:

Repay no one evil for evil… . Beloved do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord (Romans 12:17, 19).

The lex talionis is stated explicitly three times in the Old Testament. First, in Exodus 21:22-25, it is cited in a way that protected a pregnant woman and her child from death or injury that might occur if two men were in a fight.

Second, in Leviticus 24:17-22, it is applied generally to any case where a crime of murder or intentional maiming occurred. To me, this text is the most clear that for the judicial authorities, the law applied to both capital punishment and maiming punishments to be carried out in kind.

“‘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’” (Leviticus 24:17-22).

There are numerous examples of capital punishment in the Old Testament, but the only example of a maiming punishment of which I am aware is Judges 1:6-7:

Then Adoni-Bezek fled, and they pursued him and caught him and cut off his thumbs and big toes. 7 And Adoni-Bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off used to gather scraps under my table; as I have done, so God has repaid me.”

Even Adoni-Bezek, who gets maimed here, recognizes the justice of his penalty – “thumb for thumb and toe for toe.”

Third, in Deuteronomy 19:15-21, it occurs in a passage to prevent perjury and using the court to execute or punish an otherwise innocent individual.

“One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established. 16 If a false witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, 17 then both men in the controversy shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days. 18 And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, 19 then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you. 20 And those who remain shall hear and fear, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you. 21 Your eye shall not pity: life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Deuteronomy 19:15-21).

Seven crimes called for capital punishment in the Old Testament law (false prophet - Deuteronomy 13:5; idolatry - Deuteronomy 17:7; disobedience to authority - Deuteronomy 17:12; stubborn and rebellious son - Deuteronomy 21:21; harlotry - Deuteronomy 22:21; adultery - Deuteronomy 22:22-24; and kidnapping - Deuteronomy 24:7). One law called for flogging (Deuteronomy 25:1-4). Potentially, a witness could intentionally and falsely accuse someone of a capital crime and try to use the court system to execute an individual not guilty of the crime. However, there were two safeguards: 1) one testimony would not be sufficient in the court, it would have to be two or three witnesses; and 2) there had to be a careful investigation by the priests and judges. And if it was proven that the witness was false, that he was intentionally trying to harm someone, then the punishment that would have fallen on the innocent party would fall on the false witness according to the lex talionis. To me, this is clear because of the phrases, “do to him as he thought to do to his brother” and “you shall put away the evil from among you,” which always occurs in contexts of capital punishment in Deuteronomy. Also, there is the statement of “Your eye shall not pity” and “the life for life” law.

IV. Jesus and the Eye for Eye Law.

Let us now go to Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:38: “You have heard that it was said.” This suggests discussion and likely debate in the Jewish community on the Old Testament law and the interpretation given to it by the scribes and Pharisees. That Jesus is contrasting His teaching with theirs is further indicated by the phrases not found in the Old Testament cited on murder, “whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment” in Matthew 5:21, and “hate your enemy” in 5:43. Jesus’ thrust in His teaching is not to give the details of the views of the Jewish leadership, but to give His own teaching since His audience generally knew what He was contrasting it with. But based on my study of some of the ancient Jewish literature, a personal retaliatory ethic had popular support, and the Jewish religious leadership was having major debates on this law (i.e., on whether or not in the court system literal maiming penalties were required or whether financial compensation could be substituted instead).

Notice that unlike the three Old Testament passages, the first part of the formula “life for life” is not cited; rather “eye for eye” is the first element. The Jewish discussion had separated the clause related to capital punishment to focus on the issue of the maiming penalty. These maiming clauses then became for some the justification for personal revenge.

So what does Jesus have to say about it? “But I tell you … ” (Matthew 5:39). Notice first that the cases Jesus is dealing with do not really have anything to do with life-threatening crimes or crimes of bodily maiming. Rather, they are issues of insult, offense, inconvenience, and bother.

Jesus says “not to resist the evil person.” The translation could also easily be rendered do not retaliate against the evil person. However, I do not think the passage says, “Do not resist evil” (like the KJV) or “Do not resist the evil one (that is, the Devil),” since these interpretations would be contradicted elsewhere in Scripture and do not fit this context well. Instead, it is the “evil person.”

What does Jesus mean? Who is the evil person? The following four examples clarify this. The evil person is the person who: 1) slaps you on the cheek; 2) sues you for your clothes; 3) asks you to go a mile; or 4) asks you for money.

Notice also the change in perspective Jesus is giving compared to the Old Testament law. The Old Testament law addressed what the judges should do to the person who committed a criminal offense related to murder or maiming. Jesus has a different perspective. He addresses the issue on what you should do if offenses of conflict or insult happen to you. Jesus, in my view, addresses not what the court or government should do, but what a disciple should do when he or she is offended.

What should the disciple do? Do not resist or retaliate? Yes, but Jesus’ call to discipleship goes beyond a passive response. He further calls us to take a positive action: 1) turn the other cheek; 2) give your cloak as well as your tunic; 3) go the extra mile; and 4) give or lend to the person who asks you. These are four First Century examples of real life situations of conflict and potential response. Let’s look at them a little more closely.

Example 1: Whoever slaps you on the right cheek. Now I do not mean to slight anyone who is left-handed. My youngest son Nathanael happens to be a lefty, but Jesus’ example is addressed specifically to a right-handed slapper. If you are right-handed, and you slap someone on the right cheek, what have you done? You have given them a backhanded slap. The Jews considered a backhanded slap twice as insulting as a slap with the palm of the hand.

Now suppose this happens to you. One day you are going about your business and someone you know walks up to you and unjustly insults you by giving you a backhanded slap across the face. Your first instinct may be to strike back. In the talionic jargon, “a slap for a slap.” The Jewish Rabbis had a law based on oral tradition found in what is called the Mishnah that said you could seek restitution in court. The offending party would be required to pay 200 zuz (a monetary unit) for a fronthanded slap and 400 for a backhanded one. So in that culture, you could take him to court and sue him for insult.

But remember that Jesus is contrasting his system of righteousness with that of the scribes and Pharisees. Not only do you not strike back, take the person to court or just walk away, or even just stand there and say with a raised voice, “Why did you do that?” – Jesus teaches none of these. But He does say to actively and voluntarily turn the other cheek, exposing it to a further strike. Amazing!

Example 2: If anyone wants to sue you and take your tunic. Now why would anyone want to sue someone for a piece of clothing? It is hard to understand this one without some Old Testament background, so let’s look at two passages.

The first is Exodus 22:25-27, which reads:

“If you lend money to any of My people who are poor among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him; you shall not charge him interest. 26 If you ever take your neighbor’s garment as a pledge [i.e. collateral] you shall return it to him before the sun goes down. 27 For that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin. What will he sleep in? And it will be that when he cries to Me, I will hear, for I am gracious” (Exodus 22:25-27).

The second is Deuteronomy 24:10-13:

“When you lend your brother anything, you shall not go into his house to get his pledge. 11 You shall stand outside, and the man to whom you lend shall bring the pledge out to you. 12 And if the man is poor, you shall not keep his pledge overnight. 13 You shall in any case return the pledge to him again when the sun goes down, that he may sleep in his own garment and bless you; and it shall be righteousness to you before the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 24:10-13).

Under the Old Testament borrowing laws, a poor person who borrowed money could provide a garment as a pledge or collateral to help ensure that he would pay the loan back. Normal practice at the time would be that people would wear a lighter inner tunic and also a heavier outer garment or cloak to be used in colder conditions. So why would a person give such a piece of clothing for collateral? Well, if he was really poor, that may be all that he had. But it gets awfully cold at night sometimes even in the desert depending on the time of year, so the Old Testament had a provision that required that the garment be returned to the poor person every night for warmth. So let’s say that the poor person took out a 30-day loan (loan time periods were much shorter back then). No interest would be charged and the pledge, the garment, would have to exchange hands between borrower and lender every day twice a day for 30 days. The lender was not allowed to go into the borrower’s house and had to return the garment every night. The borrower was to turn the garment back to the lender each morning until the loan was paid back.

But what if one of the parties violated one of these provisions? What if the lender came, stood outside the house, and asked for the garment and the borrower refused? What if the poor person felt rightly that the loan was already paid off and the exchange of garment was no longer required? This is where a lawsuit and court injunction might come into play, and the Pharisees had detailed rules for using the court system as the tool for dealing with the problem.

Jesus, however, has a bold and radical approach. “If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.” He doesn’t say sue him back; He doesn’t say use the courts to prove you are correct; He doesn’t even say just go ahead rightly or wrongly and give him the garment. After all, Deuteronomy said if the one garment was returned according to the law, that was enough. But Jesus says give him BOTH garments! Amazing again.

In my view then, Jesus here is not only setting a standard of righteousness different than that of the scribes and Pharisees, but He is also going beyond the specific standard set forth in the Mosaic law. He is not inconsistent with it, but it is not the same either. As one writer put it, Jesus’ teaching is running in deeper channels.

Example 3: Whoever compels you to go one mile. The historical background to this situation is the Roman law that required an individual from a conquered country to carry a load or pack up to one mile on foot if asked by a Roman. It was compulsory service. It was not popular; it was hated; it was done grudgingly. The scribes and the Pharisees particularly despised these laws being used by the ruling powers. There is a New Testament example in Matthew 27:32 to carry a load, which was forced on Simon of Cyrene: “Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to carry His cross.”

To try to apply this to a modern situation, what would happen if the U.S. Ambassador in Iraq decided to pass laws that required Iraqi citizens to work for the U.S.-occupying troops? What if the Iraqis had to do things like dig ditches, carry equipment, clear rubble for limited duration, but all for no pay? I would expect a huge outcry of unfairness and probably more active widespread resistance.

Let’s be clear that many of the Jews despised the Roman occupation. In 66/67 A.D., they started a futile revolt only to be crushed and killed. The temple would be destroyed. Many of them wanted a Messiah like Judas Maccabeus who would overthrow the Roman occupation, set up Israel as an independent nation once again, and restore their national hopes. This must have made Jesus’ teaching on compulsory service all the more jarring and astonishing to His audience.

Now suppose a Roman soldier comes along and says carry my pack for a mile. What should you do?

1. Actively retaliate, physical retaliation in a likely futile attempt at combat?

2. Resist, verbally deny the request, and run like the dickens?

3. Comply with the request, meet the legal requirement, and go with him the mile, no more and no less? Maybe you mumble and complain the whole way.

4. Yet Jesus teaches none of these; He says “Go with him two.” Amazing a third time!

I ask this rhetorical question: “What might the response of the Roman soldier be who has just witnessed an unexpected and powerful testimony of Christian discipleship?”

Example 4: The person asking you for money. The Old Testament text of Deuteronomy 15:7-10 provides a good backdrop on Jesus’ teaching. It states:

“If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, 8 but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs… . 10 You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand” (Deuteronomy 15:7-10).

Now the Old Testament has a strong ethic of promoting loans and gifts to those in need. The scribes and Pharisees also did, but much of it was enveloped in a system of regulations and rules predicated on ensuring repayment. But going to Jesus’ teaching on this subject cited in Luke gives a little more information.

“And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High” (Luke 6:34-35).

The key phrase here is “hoping for nothing in return.” In other words, make the loan to the person in need, but expect nothing in return; if he can’t or doesn’t repay, consider it a gift! Don’t you get the feeling that Jesus would never be hired by a mortgage company?

So what should we do? Go broke and comply with every request? The only guideline I can give you is that the teaching seems to apply to a fellow brother in need.

Let’s say you know someone in the church who has lost their job. They ask you for a loan. What should we do?

1. We could say “No.” We might think, “Why is this guy bothering me?”

2. We could say “Okay” but draw up a contract that has stiff penalties for late repayment or nonpayment that may put the brother further and further in debt.

3. Or we could say “Yes,” let the brother repay it, but if he can’t, our attitude as Jesus says is to “expect nothing in return.” Amazing a fourth time!

But someone might say “No one has ever given me a backhanded slap, sued for my clothes, forced me to carry a pack for a mile, or asked me for a loan as a really needy person.” But the point is these are just examples of offending situations. You have to plug in the particular situation that is offending you, and apply the principle of not only foregoing retaliation, but taking a stunning action that gives your offender a blessing.

Let me give a modern example. This one happens to be a negative one. One day quite a few years ago, my roommate and I were driving in Washington D.C. going home from work on a four-lane interstate during the afternoon rush hour. He was at the wheel, and we were in a bulky 1970’s edition Ford Thunderbird. The traffic was heavy, but we were moving consistently at about 20-30 miles an hour. All of a sudden, this car came whizzing alongside and quickly cut in front of us to the point that my friend had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting him. We jolted forward with our seat belts on and briefly stopped; I was relieved we weren’t hurt, and the cars didn’t collide. After the initial shock, I looked at my roommate, and I saw in his eyes and face that he was starting to get mad. The next thing I know he floors the gas pedal, zooms forward, catches the guy who cut us off, and starts to tailgate. Then after about a minute of that, my roommate zooms around the car and cuts him off. All the while, I am asking him to stop it for fear that I’m going to get hurt.

When we are confronted with situations like this, when we are offended, when we are insulted, we have two choices: we can escalate the conflict with retaliation, or we can de-escalate the conflict. We can be a “warmaker” or a peacemaker. Jesus said in the beatitudes, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). We are peacemakers when we de-escalate these situations of conflict and extend a blessing instead.

When we turn the other cheek, we are a peacemaker.

When we forego the lawsuit, we are a peacemaker.

When we go the extra mile, we are a peacemaker.

When we give to our brother in need, we are a peacemaker.

The difficult part of applying Jesus’ teaching for me, and probably for all of us, is to determine its scope of applicability. I suspect it applies to a lot more situations than we want it to, or with which we are comfortable. Shouldn’t we especially apply these principles in our church? Peter builds off of Jesus’ teaching and applies it to relationships between brothers and sister in Christ. He writes:

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:8-9).

But let me mention one area in which I do not feel it extends. Historically, and in some church groups today, these verses are used to argue for governmental pacifism in relation to war or even capital punishment. This is where I feel we need to look at Jesus’ audience. He is not addressing the Roman government or even the Jewish judicial authorities. See Matthew 5:1, when He is seated, that “His disciples” come to Him. The teaching is what a disciple of Jesus should do when personally confronted with these types of situations. It is more of a bottom-up approach to diffusing conflict and more than that, giving a blessing instead.

V. Conclusion.

Are these some of the hard sayings of Jesus? Yes, they are. They are hard to do. But for a disciple of Jesus, they are not out of the realm of the possible.

I would like to close by pointing out and reflecting on the fact that Jesus lived out this teaching in His life. This is highlighted in several events in His arrest, trial, and crucifixion.

At the arrest, when Judas, one of the twelve, approaches with the Roman guard, Jesus doesn’t say, “You dirty rotten scoundrel, you traitor, you fiend.” Instead, He says, “Friend, why have you come?” Peter, however, is ready to resist. He pulls his sword out of the sheath to strike a blow and cuts off the ear of the slave of the high priest. But Jesus rebukes him by saying that those who live by the sword will die by the sword, and He heals the slave by restoring his ear. Jesus did not resist the evil person (Matthew 26:47-57).

Just before the trial, the soldiers come and strike him on the cheek with the palms of their hands mocking, “Prophesy who struck you” (Matthew 26:68). As Isaiah prophesied concerning Him, “I gave my back to those who struck me and my cheeks to those who plucked out my beard. I did not hide my face from shame and spitting” (Isaiah 50:6). Jesus literally turned His cheek to the smiter.

At His crucifixion, Jesus lets the soldiers take both of His garments. John writes:

Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. 24 They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: “They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots” (John 19:23-24).

He allowed both of His garments to be taken.

Lastly, on the cross, people are hurling insults at Jesus. “If You are the Son of God,” “If You are the King, come down now from the cross and save Yourself.” However, instead of hurling an insult back, Jesus asks for a blessing for them by saying, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).

185 Copyright 2003 by Community Bible Chapel, 418 E. Main Street, Richardson, TX 75081. This is the edited manuscript of Lesson 24 in the Studies in the Gospel of Matthew series prepared by James F. Davis on August 3, 2003.

186 Associated Press Report, June 10, 2003.

187 Story reported at Southwestern Regional Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Dallas, Texas, March, 2002.

188 Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version. Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Publishers. All rights reserved.

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