Why turn the other cheek?

I don't consider myself a pacifist, but I do believe Jesus is sincere when he tells us to turn the other cheek. In Matthew 5:39, during the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says, "But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also." In Luke 6:29, during the Sermon on the Plain Jesus says, "If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also." These are hard sayings. Are they even realistic?

Bonhoeffer contends that the point of non-resistance is to exhaust evil. Love prevails over evil because of its endurance. I think he is somewhat correct, but I think there is more to this. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we bear his resemblance in our lives. His example inspires us. But what was his example? When subjected to evil men, he received their beatings. When he was arrested in the garden and Peter pulled out his little sword to protect Jesus from the temple guard Jesus told him to cool his jets and stated he had his own ability to defend himself. He said, "Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly?" Matthew 26:53. Jesus was not demonstrating weakness by non-resistance, but faith, confidence in the plan of his Father. In the same way, we also are called to turn the other cheek.

But Jesus resisted evil. He did not participate in racism. He spoke with the Gentiles and the Samaritans. He also performed miracles among them. He did not participate in sexism. He treated every human he encountered with the dignity they were endowed by their creator, himself. He also resisted violently the exploitation of others, witness his thrashing of the greedy vultures in the temple, Matthew 21:12. But he didn't defend himself. If he didn't, why should I? Not only did he not defend himself, he turned the other cheek. That takes supernatural strength. I pray the Lord gives me such strength when I'm faced with the choice to retaliate. I want to resemble my savior and hope that kindness will bring repentance Romans 2:4 and Matthew 9:13.


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