The Extra Mile

Matthew 5:41 says, “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain”. This verse is the source of the catchphrase, “going the extra mile for someone”. It’s a simple instruction for those desiring to follow Jesus, but at the time it was spoken, a terrible compromise with the Roman occupiers of Judea. Any Roman official could command any Jewish citizen to pick up his gear and carry it for him, wherever he wanted to go, for up to one mile, literally a thousand paces. It didn’t matter what you were doing or where you were going, you did what the Roman said or faced the consequences.    Picture the situation. You are standing in the marketplace, bartering with a merchant for tonight’s meal when you feel a hand on your shoulder and a gruff voice that says, “Hey you! Pick up my armor and those sacks and come with me”. You know what’s going on. You may have had it happen before or at least seen it. You, a Jewish citizen, are treated like a common          servant, or worse yet, a pack mule. But you must pick up his heavy belongings and start to follow the best you can. When that mile has been tracked and he turns to you and says, “That’s enough. You can go”, imagine the expression on his face when you say, “No, that’s OK, I’ll carry them another mile for you if you’d like”. The soldier turns with a quizzical look and wonders at what he has just heard. No one ever volunteers to go another mile. What’s with this guy? The questions start boiling within him until, when the second mile is reached, he just has to ask, “ Why did you go further when you didn’t have to?” You look him straight in the and say, “Because of Jesus”, and explain to him the teachings of your Lord. In modern terms, you have created an opportunity to witness your faith before men. Going the second mile is so rarely practiced that it causes people to sit up and take notice. Therefore, when the question comes, “Why?”, the response should give credit unto Him whom all honor is due.

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