The saying, going the extra mile, originated during the Roman occupation of Israel. Roman soldiers had the right to ask any able-bodied man to carry all their equipment for one mile. After carrying a soldier’s armaments for one mile, the one who fulfilled this obligation could put down his burden and leave the soldier to carry it himself or seek someone else to serve the next mile.
In Matthew 5:41, Jesus addressed this law and surprised his hearers by saying they should accept the opportunity and even go beyond the required duty by carrying a soldier’s load for two miles instead of the required one mile distance. Say what??
Two thousand years before Jesus’ astonishing statement, Jacob sent his son Joseph on a sixty-mile mission to deliver provisions to his ten sons, Joseph’s brothers, shepherding their flocks in Shechem, (Genesis 37:14). As instructed, Joseph arrived in Shechem and heard his brothers had been there and could be in Dothan. At this point, Joseph made a decision–to return home or continue on to Dothan. After all, weren’t these the same brothers who mocked and despised him?
Yet, through his weariness, frustration and perhaps some hidden reluctance, Joseph manned-up and trudged another nine to twelve miles, a day’s journey, through the wilderness to complete his Father’s desire.