*Intro* – Luke 6:29 reads, “To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.”
An Irish boxer who was saved and became an evangelist was setting up his tent when a couple of thugs walked by.
They began to mock him, but the boxer/pastor continued his work.
One of the thugs took issue, and finally took a swing that glanced off one side of the ex-boxer’s face.
He shook it off, and stuck out his jaw whereupon the thug hit him on the other side.
At that the preacher took off his coat, rolled up his sleeves and announced, “The Lord gave me no further instructions.”
With one punch he felled the other guy – a biblical literalist.
He was clear on his understanding; for most, it’s not so easy.
Keep in mind, this sermon is primarily given to disciples!
Jesus’ followers are to be different from the rest of the world.
A key phrase is found in v. 32, “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you?
For even sinners love those who love them.”
“If we’re like everyone else – loving those who love us and hating those who hate us – there is no benefit – no grace – to us.” Default settings for disciples should change from “natural reaction” to “graceful reaction.”
To help us to that He gives four precepts (vv.
27-28, 32-34 = Love your enemies; Do good to those who hate you; Bless those who curse you; Pray for those who abuse you), four prototypes or examples we’ll look at today (vv.
29-31), and a 3-fold purpose.
Two issues of context are important here.
The first is found in v. 27 which introduces the section – “Love your enemies.”
The governing principle there was, “No revenge.”
This is hard, but Jesus teaches grace living rejects revenge.
We trespass God’s territory when we do that.
The second contextual point is found in v. 31.
We have the 4 examples of gracious living in vv.
29-30, but v. 31 summarizes with what we often call the Golden Rule.
“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”
Any child can get this summary: Treat others as you wish to be treated.
There are many ancient version of this, but all are negative in tone.
The great Jewish rabbi, Hillel said, “What is hateful to you, do not to another.”
The Jewish philosopher, Philo, said, “What you hate to suffer, do not do to anyone else.” Confucius: “What you do not want done to yourself, do not to others.”
They are fine, but negative in tone.
Jesus requires more.
Refraining from revenge is good, but gofurther.
Do positive good!
So we have an overriding principle: Treat others as you wish to be treated.
So – the context of these four examples emphasizes two ways our default setting must change – No revenge on the negative side.
Do good on the positive side.
No Revenge, and Treat others as you wish to be treated.
Turn the Other Cheek*
V. 29, “To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.”
Serious animosity is in view here.
So, does Jesus mean if someone hits you, you must invite him to hit you again?
Does He really mean that if someone sucker-punches you, you are now obligated to give him a freebie?
Is that His point?
We’ve all seen the old Westerns where some pacifist refuses to defend himself.
But is Jesus saying, “If the guys hits you once, give him another go?”
Let me put your mind at ease.
That is not what Jesus is saying.
You say, “Shouldn’t we take the Bible literally?”
But remember literal interpretation recognizes figures of speech and exaggeration to make a point; that’s what we have here.
Jesus is using hyperbole – an exaggerated example to make a point.
He is not saying we should invite further physical abuse.
We know that because He did not do so.
Jesus was no milquetoast.
On the night he was arrested Jesus encountered Annas, a former high priest so corrupt even the Romans could not stomach him and put him out of office.
However, he was the power behind the throne of son-in-law Caiaphas, and so he questioned Jesus about His teaching.
Jesus told him, “Look, Annas, everything I’ve done has been out in the open, in the synagogues and temple.
I’ve had no secret agenda.”
Jesus knew Annas was just building a case.
Now John 18:22, “When he (Jesus) had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?”
23 Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” 24 Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.”
Jesus is struck; He challenges the integrity of the action – if what I said was wrong, prove it, but if it was right, why are you hitting me?
He challenged the action.
What He did not do was say, “Okay, you’ve earned another go!” Paul reacts similarly when he was struck in the mouth in Acts 23:2.
So, this is not a prescription against self-defense.
Jesus himself instructs His followers in Luke 22:36, “And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.”
So, it is clear that Jesus’ words are not to be taken absolutely literally.
But, what is required?
What is required is that we not seek revenge for personal attacks, but rather seek the good of our attacker.
Treat others as you wish to be treated.
To do so is to enter into the same sin as your enemy!
Jesus refuses to be drawn into that trap.
He does not literally offer the other cheek, but neither does He seek revenge.
Rather He seeks the best good for Annas and the soldier by giving them truth.
Jesus is not requiring that we invite second shots; He is requiring that we absorb rather than impose physical or mental abuse for the good of our abuser.
When struck, Jesus did not physically offer the other cheek, but He did so figuratively by not seeking revenge of any kind.
In fact, He fixed the damage when Peter cut off the ear of one of the servant of the high priest in a failed attempt at revenge.
But He went a lot further than that.
Shortly after this, Jesus was illegally tried, crowned with a crown of thorns, mocked and spat upon, had his beard ripped out, was savagely beaten and finally crucified with two common thieves.
You say, “He had no choice.
He was under their power.”
I beg to differ.
In Matt 25:53 Jesus told Peter, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?
54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”
Jesus could have ended this abuse and taken revenge instantaneously, but He knew there were bigger stakes than defending His rights.
So He chose to absorb abuse rather than inflict it.
His death provided the possibility of salvation for His own murderers.
And now He’s asking us – for my sake and the sake of your enemies, would you turn the other cheek.
Don’t look for abuse, but absorb it rather than impose it.
Peter Miller was a Baptist pastor and good friend of George Washington during the Revolutionary War who lived in Ephrata, PA.
Michael Wittman was an evil-minded, scornful man hated the gospel and opposed Miller every chance he had.
One day Wittman was arrested for treason and sentenced to die.
Miller knew that profane as he was, he was no traitor.
He traveled 70 miles on foot to Philadelphia to plead for Wittman’s life.