Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth…….
Jesus instructions for dealing with one another, and especially in dealing with enemies, is told in a rather non direct, nonspecific way that is so different from the wordings of a law and legal obligation. Each description is designed to entice thought rather than provide concrete example, and is a passage particularly suited to both meditation and interpretation. It is contrary to law with binding specifics and technicalities. Laws cover legal dealings with people; Jesus is interested in moral dealings, and what law is worth anything if it is not derived from a moral and ethical perspective? More importantly though is what is the model for that moral, what serves as its foundation? For Jesus that comes first from those two greatest commandments of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and “love God with your whole heart.” The first, “do unto others” is rewritten by Christ as “do to others as I have done for you.” That is his Passion, the passion of the Cross, and the supreme act of love. His preaching on the dealings of one another, of friends and of enemies, is the actions of one individual towards another; it is also are the actions between good and evil, and between God and man. In Christ, those actions of forgiveness mirror Gods relation with his covenant people, written in love and always open to reconciliation. It is his cry on the cross, “forgive them for they know not what they have done,” that always allows God to enter back into the relation no matter how damaged it has become. Praying for ones enemies precisely brings that grace of God always into the relationship, whether it is between friends or foes. Not to forgive or leave open reconciliation excludes God, and that is contrary to that covenant between God and Gods people. To declare an eternal enemy leaves no room for God, and in Christ there is always a place for God’s loving grace.