Jesus Was A Cheek Turner
“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 evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.” Matthew 5:38-42
Jesus came into a world of religious confusion. But, the horrifying issue was that the “Elect”, the chosen people of God, were at the top of the confused list. When He began His ministry, He hit the ground running with the intent of helping the Jewish nation understand what they had been holding on to for fifteen-hundred years.
Every time we see Jesus open His mouth to teach, we often have the idea that He is out there teaching the “New Way”. Was He really?
The Law of Moses gave people the right to strike back as a sense of justice. You know the phrase: “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. You knock out my tooth and I have the right to knock out yours.
But, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, was a cheek turner. He taught it, He encouraged it and He practiced it.
You and I can have the “right” to do something, but love constrains us to take a different road. Just because I have the right to strike back does not mean I have to. I am allowed to handle the situation another way, if I choose.
Jesus was a real cheek turner and if I want to be like Him, it would be imperative that I take notice of that and practice it for the same reason He did. Love constrains us.
I seriously doubt that any of us will ever experience the kind of abuse Jesus did. Yet, He did not open His mouth about it. When He was reviled against, He did not revile back.
Jesus knew the Law long before He came to this earth. He was there when it was conceived and when it was delivered to man. He knew and understood that Law has a spirit as well as a letter. The letter of the law gave me the right to knock your tooth out if you had knocked out mine. But the Law did not tell me I HAD to do it. The Law allowed for mercy, which God, by the way, would choose over sacrifice. If I choose to allow you to keep your tooth, I have not violated Law.
Jesus sat down with a few of the Jews, those He called His disciples, and showed them the spirit of Law. By showing the constraint of love in our relations with others, the world gone in confusion could have a little more clarity and, in time, bring itself back upright.
If Jesus believed that being a cheek turner would bring an upside down world back to right, who am I to believe that I can practice anything less?
Maybe you and I need to become cheek turners. Who knows, we might just become a little more like Jesus.