“Going Commando for Jesus”

Peace Post #4

In the last of my Peace Posts, I focused on what Jesus had
to say to the crowd of his time in regard to how they could resist the
mistreatment of their captors by turning the other cheek. I’ll continue with another tactic he gave
them before moving on to how the early church resisted violence peacefully.

Jesus taught the crowd that “if anyone wants to sue you and
take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.” A casual reading of it would leave one to believe that Jesus is teaching
them to take the abuse and, in a way, ask for more. A deeper look, though, shows an important
tactic. I refer to Walter Wink’s
explanation here, as it shines the most light and makes the most sense.[1]

Wink reminds us that Jesus was speaking to the poor, those
who were used to getting sued for not paying their loans. The imperial system was charging exorbitant
interest, taking advantage of the poor. These people had all their property and money removed and just had
clothing to give. Jesus said that when
it came time for the unjust creditor to require a person’s undergarment, he
should give the outer garment as well. This would leave the debtor to exit the courtroom completely naked,
shaming the creditor for making him so.

As Wink states it,

the debtor leaving court naked. His
friends and neighbors, aghast, inquire what happened. He explains. They join his growing procession, which now resembles a victory
parade. This is guerilla theater! . . . The Powers that Be literally stand on their
dignity. Nothing deflates them more than
deft lampooning.[2]

I think this interpretation fits with what else Jesus said
here, especially in light of the turning of the other cheek, as well as his
challenge for them to walk the second mile. This interpretation of Jesus’ words here show, once again, not a coward
but a Messiah with shrewd tactics and an incredible sense-of-humor. Just the kind of Jesus I want to follow!

[1] Walter
Wink, The Powers that Be, (New York,
Doubleday, 1998) p.p.101-102

[2] ibid

About John Henson

I am Pastor of Church for the Highlands in the Highland neighborhood of Shreveport, LA. I am also Chaplain of Volunteers of America of North Louisiana. I am husband to Jinny and father to a middle-schooler named Jack. Most of my time is taken up with starting a church, but I love running, a good cigar, and reading what mystics have lived and written. Member of Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
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