Go the Extra Mile

Text: Matthew 5:38-41; Romans 12:21

backpackingProp: a back pack or heavy book bag.

Summary: We should not seek revenge when we are harmed. Jesus tells us to go beyond what is expected of us.

Author Comment: This sermon is appropriate for older children, maybe third graders or older. This teaching is very difficult and goes against the culture in many countries, especially America. Children are taught to stand and fight and to get even. God has a love and forgiveness for us that is hard for the human mind to comprehend. When he teaches us to be like him, sometimes it is hard to follow. This should not be construed to teach children to put themselves in harm’s way or to remain in abusive relationships.

How many of you have ever gone hiking or for a long walk? In the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, you may have even carried some items such as clothing or camping gear in a back pack like this one. (Show back pack.) What if someone made you walk a mile with a heavy back pack on. Would that be hard? (Listen to answers.) A long time ago when Jesus was teaching on a mount (Sermon on the Mount), he talked about how we should behave if someone mistreated us or hurt us. Here is what he said: (Read Matthew 5:38-40.)

Jesus helped the people understand that God’s love went beyond what they had learned in the laws of Moses. Under those early laws, God allowed people to take revenge that was equal to the harm done to them. If a man had an eye blinded in a fight, the injured man could blind the eye of the man who hurt him. If a man knocked out the tooth of another man, the injured man could knock out a tooth of the one who hurt him. (See Exodus 21:23-25 and Leviticus 24:19-20.) Jesus said do not resist evil. He told us if someone hits us in the face, to let him hit us again. That is how we get the phrase, “to turn the other cheek.” It means not to seek revenge when we are harmed. Jesus said if anyone took us to court to take something from us, to let them have more than they expected.

And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. (Matthew 5:41) In that time the law allowed a Roman soldier to make a person carry his back pack for a Roman mile, or a thousand paces. That distance is about 1.48 kilometers (1620 yards). No one liked being forced to carry anything any distance for a Roman soldier. Jesus said if they were required to carry it a mile, then carry it two miles. That is how we get the phrase, “go the extra mile.” It means we should go beyond what is expected of us in helping others.

These sayings by Jesus were very hard to understand. God has a way of turning our way of thinking upside-down. Jesus showed us how much God loves us and helped us understand how we can express God’s love and forgiveness to others. If a bully tries to pick a fight with you and hits you, instead of getting into the fight, walk away from it. Do not try to get even. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21) If we have a chance to help someone in need, we can be generous and give more than is expected of us. That is being like Jesus. He gave his life for us on the cross so that we can be forgiven for all of our badness (sin). Even though we do not deserve it, Jesus went the extra mile for us.

Let us pray. Dear Lord Jesus, help me to be like you and love other children, even the ones that are mean to me. Amen.

©2003 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.

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