You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ (Matt5:38 NASB)
The Old Testament Law gave a place for you to avenge yourself when you had been wronged, but this was not actually the heart of God, even in the Old Economy. Check out this smattering of how God wants to deal with offences against His people.
Deut 32:35 ‘Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.’
Deut 32:43 “Rejoice, O nations, with His people; For He will avenge the blood of His servants, And will render vengeance on His adversaries, And will atone for His land and His people.”
Psalm 94:1-3 O LORD, God of vengeance; God of vengeance, shine forth! Rise up, O Judge of the earth; Render recompense to the proud. How long shall the wicked, O LORD, How long shall the wicked exult?
Nahum 1:2-3 A jealous and avenging God is the LORD; The LORD is avenging and wrathful. The LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies. The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, And the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. In whirlwind and storm is His way, And clouds are the dust beneath His feet.
And not just the Old, but check out what we are told in Romans and Hebrews as well:
Romans 12:19 “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Hebrews 10:30 For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.” And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.”
Are you getting the sense that God does not need us, or want us to take up for our own rights, and our own revenge?
But in case you were not sure – there is another shoe about to drop. Jesus (as he is want to do) is going take the idea of revenge and turn it right around.
But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. (Matt5:39 NASB)
It is one thing to leave a person’s final judgment in the hand of the All Knowing One, but Jesus is about to make it sound like we are to lay down and just take any abuse that is thrown our way. Here is where the Kingdom of God is really upside-down.
Listen to the 5 applications:
- If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
- If someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.
- If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
- Give to the one who asks you,
- Do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
“Turn the other cheek” These may well be the most famous words of Jesus outside the church walls. Everyone has heard this and the world loves to quote it to Christians as a way of keeping us in our place, or abusing us.
Later on in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 7:12) Jesus will give us the “golden rule”
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
The passage we are looking at today makes it clear that Jesus intends for us to walk on a completely different plane than those around us. We are to act toward others as though they actively love us like God does, with no regard to how they actually act toward us. (What?!?)
Let me make it plain – God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8) He wants us to treat others as though they had laid down the life of their son in order to rescue us, even if they hate us, even if they are actively hostile toward us.
Is your head spinning – if not – read that again, because the very idea makes my head spin.
Hey, thanks for stopping in today.