One of the toughest teachings of Jesus is the one about turning the other cheek. Remember, Jesus once said, “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.” Matthew 5:39 (New American Standard).
We know that Jesus was very skilled in using oriental hyperbole (the use of exaggeration to make a point) as a teaching tool. This may or may not be one of those times in which he employed that tactic. However, it begs the question as to just what Jesus was attempting to teach his followers. I heard a very prominent preacher years ago from Memphis, Tennessee say that Jesus was telling his followers not to allow the actions of other people to control their reactions. I have always liked that interpretation. The Matthew Henry Commentary on Matthew 5:38-42 states that “The plain instruction is, suffer any injury that can be borne, for the sake of peace, committing your concerns to the Lord’s keeping. And the sum of it all is that Christians must avoid disputing and striving. If any say, Flesh and Blood cannot pass by such an affront, let them remember that flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God; and those who act upon right principles will have most peace and comfort.”
Another thought on Jesus’ words about turning the cheek comes from Echart Tolle in The Power of Now: A Guide To Spiritual Enrichment. He writes, “Maybe you are being taken advantage of, maybe the activity you are engaged in is dishonest, irritating, or unconscious, but all is irrelevant. Whether your thoughts and emotions about this situation are justified or not makes no difference. The fact is that you are resisting what is. You are making the present moment into an enemy.”
Part of what I take from Jesus’ words and the other words on this page is that we must always be careful to keep our egos out of the way in order that the power of God may work through us. Though a hard teaching, I believe it is one with which we and our world need to wrestle.
– Doug Fairbanks
Published on Friday, August 11, 2017 @ 2:48 PM EDT