You can listen to today’s devotion by clicking on this SoundCloud link.
Our oldest grandson lost his first tooth a couple months ago. It was a big deal. We received a couple of pictures, via text within minutes, to share the good news. The next morning, he found $5 under his pillow! Hello! Beats the 5 cents I received!
Luckily for our grandson, he didn’t receive a tooth for a tooth! But you know I’m pulling something (no tooth-pun intended) out of context with that one. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pulls things from Scripture and still keeps them “in context.“
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you….”
Matthew 5:38-39a, New American Standard Bible
I like the way Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message: “Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: Don’t hit back at all.“
In this portion of the Sermon on the Mount, God the Word quotes the Word of his own Scripture and puts it in the context of his fulfillment of that Word. He does this over and over, and each time he says, “But I say to you….” Jesus the Word has the authority to interpret and apply the Word that is He as the Word of God. There’s a bit of a mind-bender for you.
There is enough — in fact, too much — “tooth for a tooth“ behavior in the world. There is too much of it in the Church, in families — well, I’m guessing you get the idea. You can add to the list, if you’d like, but I wouldn’t waste the time. As the paraphrase above says, “Is that going to get us anywhere?“ Christ came as love, in love, to love. He bids us come and follow. It’s a better way to live, I guarantee it. You are loved today. Love, today. God smiles on you today. Smile, today. Even if you have a tooth missing.
Copyright Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Colorado Springs, CO