Friday, February 6, 2015

Turn the Other Cheek

Matthew 5:38-39 (NLT) “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say, do not resist an evil person!  If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.

I love learning new things!

An eye for an eye!

Turn the other cheek!

These old adages aren’t very popular now, but I heard both of them growing up.  ‘An eye for an eye’ was definitely misused to justify revenge, e.g. he stole my candy, so I’ll just ruin his drawing!  In Old Testament times, this law actually limited retaliation or punishment to match the crime.  It restrained a victim from taking out a whole family for a minor wrong, which apparently was the modus operandi.  This law launched Step One in the process of molding a people of God.

Jesus continues to shape His people with Step Two.  He says, “What I really meant was ‘turn the other cheek’”.  By the way, this nullifies ‘an eye for an eye’ for disciples of Jesus.

What does that mean?

Be a pacifist?  Don’t seek revenge at all?  Be a doormat?

As it turns out, we need to understand New Testament culture and pay attention to details.  Jesus says ‘If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also’.  The significance lies in the right cheek?

Most people in Jesus’ time were right handed.  If someone slapped your right cheek with their right hand, you had been backhanded.  This gesture asserted dominance and authority over the lower class.  Jesus wasn’t describing a fist fight, but rather a dismissal, an insult that implied ‘you’re worth nothing you low life.’


By offering your left cheek, you are actually standing up for yourself.  You challenge the offender to hit you with their open hand or fist – to treat you as an equal.  The offender wouldn’t strike with his left hand which was used for unclean things.   Turn the other cheek says:  I won’t retaliate for the way you just insulted my dignity.  Instead I will give you an opportunity to make things right.

I love that!

Like a productive garden, a rich relationship should be tended regularly.  To be reminded to plant His Word in your heart, follow me on Twitter @Cathy_Chung or subscribe at Seeds of Scripture.

#seedsofscripture #turntheothercheek #dignity #retaliation #revenge #sermononthemount

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