Milestones near Beth Shan

May 18, 2016

You’ve heard about “going the second mile.” In His “Sermon on the Mount” in Galilee Jesus said (in a context forbidding retaliation for evil), “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two” (Matt. 5:41). In New Testament times a Roman soldier could compel a Jewish citizen (or others) to carry burdens for them. They were authorized by the Roman government to press civilians into service of this nature; such would have to carry the load for the distance of one mile, but no further.

But how would you know when the mile was up? Conveniently, Roman roads had mile markers, such as these below, collected from the Beth Shan area.

Milestones from the Beth Shan area, at Gan Hashlosha National Park. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Milestones from the Beth Shan area, at Gan Hashlosha National Park. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Jesus tells His disciples that instead of complaining about an oppressive government, or bemoaning their victimization, they were to go an extra mile. You see, Jesus’ disciples are different; in the world, but not of the world. Who knows but that from time to time this kind of unusual conduct would cause that soldier to ask, “What makes you different; what do you have that I don’t have?” If so then as┬áPeter said, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed” (1 Pet. 3:15,16).

I’ve previously written on milestones here.


Milestones

August 31, 2011

Greetings from Jerusalem. Today has been a very good day, with focus in the Shepheleh and Elah Valley areas

In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), He said, “If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles” (Matt. 5:41). Have you ever wondered what was meant by that? The NET Bible has a note explaining, “Roman soldiers had the authority to press civilians into service to carry loads for them.”

The Roman Empire ruled the world in the 1st century, and the Jews were a subject nation. Any of the Jews in Jesus’ audience could be thus compelled to carry a burden for a Roman soldier. But Roman law stated that you could not be made to carry it more than a mile. That raises the question of how one would know when a mile had passed. Would it be when you felt you had walked a mile, or when the soldier announced that a mile had passed?

One way to be sure was when you came across a milestone. The Romans were expert road builders, and they posted mile markers along the way.

Milestone near Beth Shemesh. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Milestone near Beth Shemesh. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The real question becomes why would Jesus make a requirement of this nature? While there may be many reasons, here are a couple of suggestions: [1] Jesus disciples are different. Not different just to be different, but different in the ways that the Gospel will make one different. Jesus’ disciples are different because they are like Jesus. See the verses of the context leading into this text.

[2] Living the kind of life envisioned by this text could very likely cause someone to ask you a reason of the hope that is in you, thus providing a teaching opportunity (1 Pet. 3:15-16).

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Be sure to check Ferrell’s Travel Blog also.