Advancing the Conversation of Jesus
Jesus says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. (Matthew 5:38-42)
WOW! Now this is a tough one! Jesus now turns to his way of dealing with RETALIATION. This is one of the most commonly misunderstood concepts in Judaism. Ask most people and they will say that this has something to do with retaliation in the Old Testament versus love and forgiveness in the New Testament. This isn’t true. Judaism never interpreted it in this way. An eye for an eye had to do with providing for limited liability in matters of legal compensation. Jesus is teaching to go beyond the minimum required of you when you are wronged!
They were laws for civil courts to apply, but the scribes and Pharisees interpreted these statements to justify personal retribution and retaliation against their enemies. They used them to take matters into their own hands—REVENGE. However, the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ both teach that vengeance was to be left up to God.
Jesus taught two things here: 1. Do not resist an evil person. Not only should you not take vengeance into your own hands, but don’t even oppose the evil person when the evil is being done. 2. Respond to evil by doing good. The most familiar example is to turn the other cheek.
NOTE in each case the principle is the same. We are not to resist the person who would mistreat us or who would try to deprive us of our possessions. Instead, respond in a positive manner to demonstrate the love of Jesus toward them by freely giving them more than they were hoping to gain by force, oppression or manipulation.
This is so contrary to human nature as one of the ultimate ways to fully trust Jesus to come through on our behalf. Maybe if we had the courage to actually have this kind of response, then Jesus might demonstrate himself among us in a mighty and supernatural way. The next time you are mistreated in some way, take the challenge and look for ways to overcome evil with good.
It’s like Jesus is saying, when a person attacks you externally, go deeper and respond to them from the heart with love (internally). If a person slaps you on the cheek, you know that this person must really be in a world of hurt to do that to you. The inner aching in his heart is much worse than a bruise on the cheek. So, hit me again if you must. But I’m going to show you the love of Jesus that you so greatly lack by my response to you!
Jesus has your back, so let him come through!