Christians: Stop Turning Your Cheeks, and Start Turning the Tables
By Arthur Schaper
Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, was not the meek doormat, as some Christians–and many secular opponents of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness–have tried to portray Him.
“But Jesus said that when someone strikes us on the cheek, we should turn to them the other.”
Where do we find this exhortation?
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 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 5:38-39)
What is Jesus talking about in His Sermon on the Mount?
The standard for holiness before His heavenly Father:
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
The standard for perfection is to take the all the slips, the hits, the hurts.
See. That’s what Jesus is commanding us to do, right?
Who was Jesus talking to?
And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,” (Matthew 5:1-2)
Jesus saw multitudes, the crowds of people who saw Jesus as a celebrity or a novelty.
Then there were the disciples, who saw Jesus as an example to follow …
“He taught them, saying …”
Jesus did not come to be our teacher. He did not come to seek glory as a celebrity.
He came to save, heal, and forgive.
So, what did Jesus do with those who thought that they could be like him? Demonstrate to them the full calling of what Following Jesus really means.
Jesus would be the one to turn his cheeks and endure the hits for us:
“I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” (Isaiah 50:6)
Why did Jesus do this?
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
His wounds are our healing. His refusal to fight back grants us permission to fight:
“Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.” (John 19:1-3)
The word for “smite” in the above passage is the same Greek word Jesus used in Matthew 5, by the way. Jesus has taken all the blows for us. He was beaten, that we would be healed. He was crushed for our sins, and the chastisement of our peace is on Him.
To wannabe disciples, Jesus made it clear: “You want to be like me through your efforts? Then endure everything that I will endure.”
No, believers, we are not called to be disciples who turn our cheeks and endure evil. We are called to be sons, partakers in Jesus’ divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) to reign in life (Romans 5:17)—His Life! (Galatians 2:20-21)
Stop turning your cheeks to the wretched evil in our midst.
It’s time to start turning tables, just as Jesus did in the face of great evil:
“And the Jews’ Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.” (John 2: 13-16)
Jesus did not just stand by and watch the wicked religious leaders abuse their power and distort God’s Word and calling.
He stepped up and chased them out!
Consider also what Jesus did when the Pharisees shamed him for healing a woman on the Sabbath Day:
Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day? And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him. (Luke 13:15-17)
Jesus not only defended healing the woman, but he slammed the religious leader– openly. He shamed all his adversaries–publicly.
Not very nice behavior according to Church-ianity standards.
But the people rejoiced because Jesus stood up for the woman and shamed his opponents.
Let us demonstrate the same courage.
We should not be afraid to contend for what is right.
Read the exhortations of John the Beloved:
“I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.” (3 John 9-10)
John was not afraid to confront.
How about Jude?
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 3)
Christians, we are called to stand up and fight for what is right.
Jesus turned his cheeks for us, so that today we–like Him–can start turning over tables!