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What Does It Mean to Trun the Other Cheek?

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by , March 16th, 2017 at 02:20 PM (151 Views)
WhatDoes It Mean to Turn the Other Cheek?
IN HIS celebrated Sermonon the Mount, Jesus Christ said: “Do not resist him that is wicked;but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other also tohim.”—Matthew 5:39.
What did he mean? Was heurging Christians to become passive victims? Are Christians expectedto suffer in silence and refuse to seek legal protection?
To understand what Jesusmeant, we must consider the context of his statement, as well as hisaudience. Jesus prefaced his counsel quoted above with what hislisteners already knew from the Holy Scriptures. He noted: “Youheard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.’”—Matthew5:38.
The passages Jesusreferred to are found at Exodus 21:24 and Leviticus 24:20. It isnoteworthy that in harmony with God’s Law, the “eye for eye”retribution mentioned in those scriptures was properly administeredonly after an offender had stood trial before the priests and judgeswho weighed the circumstances and the degree of deliberateness of theoffense.—Deuteronomy 19:15-21.
Jesus’ teaching in hisSermon on the Mount regarding ‘turning the other cheek’ reflectsthe true spirit of God’s Law to Israel. Jesus did not mean that ifhis followers are struck on one side of the face, they should staggerto their feet and offer the other side as a target. In Bible times,as is often true today, a slap was not intended to injure physicallybut was an insult intended to provoke a reaction, a confrontation.
Evidently, then, Jesusmeant that if one person tried to goad another into a confrontationwith a literal slap—or with stinging sarcasm—the person slappedshould avoid retaliating. Instead, he should attempt to avoid whatcould become a vicious circle of rendering evil for evil.—Romans12:17.
Jesus’ words were verysimilar to those of King Solomon: “Do not say: ‘Just as he did tome, so I am going to do to him. I shall repay to each one accordingto his acting.’” (Proverbs 24:29) A follower of Jesus would turnthe other cheek in the sense of not allowing others to force him, asit were, into a “showdown.”
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