by Jim Kaness

Matthew 5:38-42: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.’ [Exodus 21:24, Lev. 24:20, Deut. 19:21] But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And 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, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

What does it mean to "turn the other cheek"? What does Jesus have to say about self defense when we are attacked verbally and physically? Below are numerous examples from the Gospel of Matthew illustrating how Jesus reacted in these situations.

Matthew 1:12: The Magi were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so they returned home by another route.

Matthew 1:13: An angel warned Joseph to take Jesus and Mary and flee to Egypt. They fled at night.

Matthew 1:19-21: An angel in a dream told Joseph it was safe to return to Israel. Afraid to go to Judea, Joseph went to Galilee, to a town called Nazareth.

Matthew 4:1-11: Jesus was tempted by the Devil. Jesus answered the Devil by quoting scripture. The Devil left.

Matthew 5:5: “Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth.”

Matthew 5:43-48: “You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy'. [Lev. 19:18] But I tell you: 'Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven...'

Matthew 10:14: “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.”

Matthew 12:14-15: “But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place.”

Matthew 26:47-56: Jesus is betrayed. One of his companions cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. Jesus healed the ear [Luke 22:51].

Matthew 27:12: “When [Jesus] was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer.”

Other than answering with words and walking away, Jesus never took defensive action against His accusers and tormentors. He allowed them to do with Him as they chose.

God will on occasion warn you and me to take evasive action. He will not ask us to take defensive action. We are to accept what God gives to us as in "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me." [Matthew 24:9] This is consistent with "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." [Phillipians 4:19] Our need is not to live a long and happy life here on Earth, but to spend eternity with God. If we want to be like Jesus then we must accept persecution and death like He did. [Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 18 & 19]

As for vengeful or retaliatory action, the Bible is quite clear: “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” [Leviticus 19:18] and “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” [Romans 12:19 and Deuteronomy 32:35]


Copyright © 9/4/2016 by Jim Kaness