I am not a particular lover of TV Commercials. Now, I don’t mind them, because while they are on I can do such important things as go get a snack or make a trip to the tinkle-torium. Every once in a while, though, a Commercial comes along that catches both my attention and tickles my fancy. One of these was aired a few years ago, and occasionally is vividly reproduced in my mind’s eye (That phrase was for you, Damon Evans!).
It was, as you have undoubtedly already deduced, for HERBREW NATIONAL FRANKS. In the Ad you see Uncle Sam, and his facial expressions, as the narrator explains what the government requirements are for the production of Hot Dogs. Uncle Sam smiles every time the narrator shares a governmental standard, and then frowns when the narrator points out that they are subpar for Hebrew National Franks. After three or four of these, the narrator says, “We can’t do what the government allows, because we answer to a higher authority,” at which point Uncle Sam gazes to the sky!
Now, I know I am a little on the weird side, but when I first saw this Ad what came to my mind was that, as Christians, we can’t do what the world would do because we, too, “answer to a higher authority!” Let me give you a few examples.
One of the great things we can like about Peter was that he wasn’t afraid to ask questions, and to keep pestering Jesus until he got an answer he understood. For our study today we find one of these questions in Matthew 18:21-22 21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
When Peter alluded to forgiving “seven times” it was not an arbitrary number. It was the number society referred to where being gracious in regard to forgiveness was concerned at the time. In fact, Jesus even used the number in Luke 17:3-4 3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. 4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
So, the “world’s standard” regarding forgiveness was seven times. Jesus, however, advises Peter that “seven” wasn’t the answer, but, rather, seventy times seven! Knowing Peter and his temper the way we do, we may figure that Peter thought to himself, “Ok, but on that 491st time WATCH OUT!” Actually, “70 X 7” was the equivalent to infinity, or an unlimited number of times. See, Christians “have to answer to a higher authority.”
Another example of this is found in Matthew 5:43-44 43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
The world then, as now, had little or no love for their enemies! Jesus, however, took His followers, of whom we are a part, a step further. As you can see, because we are His followers, we “have to answer to a higher authority.”
One of the things the inhabitants of Jerusalem hated most about the Romans was the fact that, no matter what they were doing, if a Roman soldier came up to them and told them to carry his pack for a mile they had to do it. That’s what Jesus was referring to in Matthew 5:41 – And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Not only, Jesus told us, are we to do what we have to do, we need to be willing to do even more. Why? Because we “have to answer to a higher authority.”
The GOOD NEWS is that while we “have to answer to a higher authority,” we will also be REWARDED by that higher authority! And, perhaps even more importantly, if we “go the extra mile,” we might lead others to that higher authority, and isn’t that what the life of a Christian is all about?!?!?!