It’s Time to Play a New Game

Matthew 5:38-42 (NKJV)

38   “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’

39   But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

40   If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.

41   And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.

42   Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

Exodus 21:23-25 (NKJV)

23   But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life,

24  eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,

25  burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Leviticus 24:19-20 (NKJV)

19   ‘If a man causes disfigurement of his neighbor, as he has done, so shall it be done to him—

20   fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him.

Deuteronomy 19:16-21 (NKJV)

16   If a false witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing,

17   then both men in the controversy shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days.

18   And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother,

19   then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you.

20   And those who remain shall hear and fear, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you.

21   Your eye shall not pity: life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

Genesis 4:15 (NKJV)

 And the Lord said to him, “Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.

Genesis 4:23-24 (NKJV)

23   Then Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; Wives of Lamech, listen to my speech! For I have killed a man for wounding me, Even a young man for hurting me.

24   If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”

The related problems of:

  • Retaliation
  • Revenge
  • Escalation

Exodus 21, Leviticus 24, & Deuteronomy 19 all address the ancient problem of Lex Talionis: the law of retaliation

The “Don’t get mad, get even.” attitude:

  • What, exactly, is “even”?
    • Is a never-ending spiral of violence necessary?

“If we do an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, we will be a blind and toothless nation.” ? Martin Luther King Jr.

What does Jesus mean when He says to “turn the other cheek?”

  • Jesus does not mean “be a doormat”
    • Jesus does not mean “let abuse go unchallenged.”
    • Jesus says, “It’s time to change the game!”
    • Turning the other cheek radically shifts the balance of power away from the aggressor.

Jesus’ example is culturally defined

  • The face slap = greatest insult for a man
    • Turning the cheek requires the aggressor to decide his options:
  • Become a social outcaste by slapping again with his left hand
  • Become a social outcaste by delivering a sucker punch with his right
  • The aggressor cannot win anymore!
  • The aggressor is playing an old game…and losing!

“Turning the cheek” will mean different things in different 21st Century situations

  • It always means “change the game / change the rules”
    • It always means short-circuiting the escalation of violence / retaliation / revenge

Notice the “personal” nature of verse 39

  • The solution begins with interpersonal relationships

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