Summary: Christian living based on turning the other cheek.
One summer evening in Broken Bow, Nebraska, a weary truck driver pulled his rig into an all-night truck stop. He was tired and hungry. The waitress had just served three tough looking, leather jacketed motorcyclist - of the Hell’s Angel’s type - decided to give him a hard time. Not only did they verbally abuse him, one grabbed the hamburger off his plate, another took a handful of his French fries and the third picked up his coffee and began to drink it.
How did this trucker respond? How would you respond? Well, this trucker did not respond as one might expect. Instead, he calmly rose, picked up his check, walked to the front of the room, put the check and his money on the register, and went out the door. The waitress followed him to put the money in the till and stood watching out the door as the big truck drove away into the night.
When she returned, one of the motorcyclists said to her, “Well, he’s not much of a man, is he?”
She replied, “I don’t know about that, but he sure isn’t much of a truck driver. He just ran over three motorcycles on his way out of the parking lot.”
-Sometimes, revenge seems really sweet. So, why would Jesus make such outrageous statements as the ones found in these verses? It sounds like He is saying, “Just lie down and die. Just take whatever is dished out to you. Be a doormat for people to walk on. Let people abuse you and degrade you in any way they choose.” However, Jesus is again using a common method of speaking called hyperbole. Hyperbole is exaggeration to prove a point. A few verses ago Jesus was talking about gouging out your own eye and cutting off your right hand to avoid sinning. He was using hyperbole, exaggeration for the sake of making an important point – STAY AWAY FROM SIN!
-In today’s passage I believe we can see some hyperbole, but that doesn’t mean that we are off the hook. Sometimes it is too easy for us to say, “Oh! I see your point. Well said.” We pat ourselves on the back for our depth of understanding, but then go off and forget to apply what we’ve heard to the way we live.
-To be a strict literalist with these verses would be to contradict some of the other teachings of Jesus, as well as some of Paul’s teachings. It might help us know how to apply this teaching if we understand that Jesus was dealing with issues of His day. Remember that Jesus and His audience were Jews and that Christ was addressing the hot issues and controversies of the day, including how to apply the Old Testament Law to that day and age. As we will see, Jesus is trying to help His listeners see that they do not need to cash in on their legal rights at the expense of their witness. In fact, not availing ourselves of all our rights may provide opportunities for others to see an accurate picture of the good and generous nature of God! Maybe another way of saying this is ”Don’t be stingy with God’s grace.”
-The bottom line principle of what Jesus was saying in this passage is this: We must be more concerned with showing the generous love of God than with receiving proper treatment from others.
This is seen in 4 ways.
I. Gracious people are willing to accept insults
38 "You have heard that it was said, ’Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
-In nearly every culture, a slap in the face is the ultimate insult. The Mishnah (Jewish traditions based on the 5 books of Moses called theTorah) has this to say about injury and insult: If anyone wounds his fellow, he becomes liable to compensate the injured party for five different aspects of the injury: damage, pain, healing, loss of time from work, and insult....
-During the time of Jesus, Jewish rabbis were debating this fifth point of compensation, namely, compensation for insult. Let’s say somebody insulted you by slapping you (possibly with the back of the hand since most people are right handed, or with the unclean left hand in that culture). Could you take them to court and get some money out of them? Jesus said NO, but the rabbis apparently said YES because this became part of the Mishnah sometime in the 2nd century AD.
-Jesus was saying "take the insult and ask for more."
-This passage is usually seen as a call to nonviolence and that we should never retaliate. While those things are generally true, this passage may be more about not taking someone to court over a disagreement. If someone humiliates us should we try to get money out of them, making them pay for what they did, or should we show them the undeserved kindness that comes from the very heart of God?