Here we see Jesus giving the spirit of the Law about retaliation, justice, and charity (Exodus 21:23-25, 22:25-27). These explanations seem to really put the nail to the coffin of the self-righteous, dead in sin and dead to God humanist hypocrite. You can especially see this when you compare what Jesus is teaching with their worldly counterparts.
“Don’t get mad, get even”
“Don’t be a doormat”
“Don’t let people take advantage of you”
“Don’t give money to bums”
But we in the church also fail at these points. We explain away the explanations of Jesus, saying, “No, Jesus couldn’t possible mean THAT”, and yet what did He tell us about relaxing His commands (Matthew 5:19-20)? Remember, Jesus said that He came to fulfill the Law perfectly (Matthew 5:17-18). This points us to the inevitable fact that no one actually can fulfill the letter of the Law, let alone the spirit of it. No one but Jesus, that is. Jesus is the hero of the story, He is giving the lesson, and in the kingdom, we are the lesser. Not only do you not meet the Law you don’t even meet it at any single point, and you are guilty of it all (James 2:10). No one is good, not at all, except God, and that is who Jesus is (Mark 10:18).
Now just because you don’t and won’t meet the standard of Jesus doesn’t mean you are not supposed to do what is right as best you can, and the New Testament gives us guidelines for the practice of these principles (1 Peter 2:19-23, 3:9, 14-17, 4:14-16). We are to show the world our gracious action and attitude because we have received grace.
Yet we must not miss the force of these explanations. Jesus was the only one who could go to the bottom of the well and live out the depths of these things. We must rely on Him and His righteousness if we are to exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees, and enter into heaven.
We are reserved about fulfilling these commands of our Lord because we wonder what would really happen if we kept them. Would we always be beaten, bare, burdened, and broke? Jesus told us that doesn’t really matter (Matthew 10:28). The truth is that we fear the death of our body less than we fear the death of our standard of living. Think about our excuses, “I need me time”, and “But if I did that, then…” and so on. But Jesus lived this thing out. They took His temporal life, but He had eternal life. You will too if you trust in Him to save you, and not yourself.