April 16, 2024

Bible verse of the week: Christ ‘turned the other cheek’ for mankind at Calvary, faith leader says

“You have heard that it was said, β€˜An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you” (Matthew 5:38-42).Β 

These verses come from the Gospel of Matthew, one of the three synoptic gospels of the New Testament.Β 

The lines are perhaps one of the most complex and misunderstood passages in the Bible, according to faith leaders.

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The concept of “an eye for an eye” essentially means, “If someone hurts you in some way, you repay them with a punishment that fits the crime,” according to Biblestudytools.com.

The same source also said the attitude was used in Old Testament days as a way to settle crimes and disputes.

This form of justice pre-dates even the Old Testament, say Bible scholars.

John Gill’s Bible commentary reports that “‘retribution law’ existed long before the phrase, ’Eye for an eye,’ occurs in the Old Testament,” says Biblestudytools.com.Β 

Deuteronomy 19:19-21 offers a good example of this “retribution law” by which judges and courts settled compensation during Old Testament times, according to faith leaders.

“Then do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party,” the verse begins.

“You must purge the evil from among you. The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you. Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”

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However, the application of “an eye for eye” changed during the 1,300 years between “the law given to Moses and Jesus’ time on earth,” notes Christian website Christianity.com.Β 

“In Jesus’ time, it had become a means of justifying petty retaliation between individuals and an obligation not to overlook an insult or harm, rather than a standard by which judges award damages after a loss,” that site continues.

Jesus’ words about “an eye for an eye” during the Sermon on the Mount challenged these attitudes β€” asking people to consider their fellow man in a new way, says one Missouri pastor.

The command to “love your neighbor as yourself” is more than just not harming or stealing from your neighbor, Rev. Hans Fiene, pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Crestwood, Missouri, told Fox News Digital.

“It means letting him harm you and steal from you, just as it means never denying mercy to those who could not possibly be less deserving of it,” he also said.

For someone who is not Christian, becoming righteous and worthy of eternal life may seem easy, said Fiene.Β 

For non-believers, it may seem as straightforward as “outwardly [keeping] the commandments,” he continued. “Don’t physically drain the life from someone’s veins, don’t bodily take another man’s wife β€” and you’ve done enough to merit eternal life,” he added.

However, with Jesus’ words shared in these verses in Matthew, the directive becomes more “complex,” he said.

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Only “the sinless son of God who gave us the cloak of his righteousness at the cross” could earn us all eternal life, he said.

“Having accepted our hatred, and having traded our sins for his perfect obedience to God’s law, Jesus won forgiveness for all mankind and gives eternal life to all who believe in his name,” he said.

While the commandments given in these verses may seem “burdensome,” for the Christian they are not, thanks to Jesus’ life and death, he emphasized.

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Through his death and resurrection, “Christ has lifted their weight off us,” he said.

“For those who know this, turning the other cheek ceases to be an impossible demand and becomes a glorious invitation to follow the example of our Savior,” he also said.Β 

Christ “gave us life when he turned the other cheek for us at Calvary,” he added.

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