Monday, May 21, 2007

Turn the other cheek... Decoding Matthew 5:39

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Turning the other cheek : Decoding Matthew 5:39

Heard during the Thursday, September 22 sermon
"But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." (Matthew 5:39, KJV)

Think about it. When the right hand is used to slap somebody's face (the person standing face-to-face with the individual executing the slap), that slapping hand would usually connect with the left-side of that person's face. That would be the most convenient flow-through of the slapping action.
If the hand connected with the right cheek as is indicated in Matthew 5:39, it would not be the palm of the hand that connected with the face but rather the knuckles. This suggests that: not so much that force was intended to be inflicted by something else was intended.
THIS ACTION OF SMITING ON THE RIGHT CHEEK WAS A CHALLENGE TO A DUEL. Later in Europe, this action developed into using a glove to strike the right cheek to signal the challenge to duel.

Therefore, by turning the other cheek, Jesus is simply saying: DON'T ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE TO DUEL. It does not mean, that the Christian, rolls over and plays dead when attacked. Rather, Matthew 5:39 is an exhortation to not be agitated into reacting. TO be an ACTOR not RE-ACTOR. To be a Thermostat and not a Thermometer.

The same principle applies and is followed through in Matthew 5:41

And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain."

The Romans had a law that compelled their subjects to carry their loads one mile. After that mile, the subject was free to go. By volunteering to carry the load another mile, the subject reverses roles with the Roman. The Roman was in control at the onset because it was he who issued the order to compel the subject to carry the load. The subject was helpless to refuse this Roman ordinance. But by going beyond the ordinance and offering to carry the load one extra mile, the subject was now in control of the situation. The subject is now the leader and not re-actor.

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