Tuesday 08 February 2022

Bible Book:

'You have heard that it was said, "Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth."' (v. 38)

Matthew 5:38-39 Tuesday 8 February 2022

Psalm 71:17-24


The Old Testament command "Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth" can be found in Exodus 21:24. To modern readers this command comes across as barbaric (essentially if you cause someone to lose an eye you should have your own gouged out as payment). It reminds me of the saying "two wrongs don’t make a right".

Set in its ancient context, in which revenge and retaliation were often the rule of law,  this command sought to temper and bring a stop to greater bloodshed. It aimed to stop an escalation of violence (someone is blinded in one eye and in retaliation someone takes out both eyes of the other etc, etc). This command sought to bring about a way to deal with these issues in a less bloody manner.

Jesus, now opens us to a greater understanding of what is needed and this is mirrored in the passages we will look at over the next few days. Here he moves people from 'eye for an eye', to turn the other cheek. The action of turning the other cheek is an act of non-violent protest. We sometimes misunderstand this verse as allowing ourselves to be abused or mistreated, which is dangerous.

The act of turning the other cheek was much more a defiant action that challenged the aggressor. To turn the other cheek was to force the person who committed the action to choose whether they would do it again. It changes the power play at work from an attack on someone deemed inferior to a choice to strike an equal. At its heart, turning the other cheek was a way of challenging those who think of themselves as powerful and seeking to disarm them.


To Ponder:

  •  Have you ever been in a situation where you have had to turn the cheek? How did you feel at the time?
  •  Do you think as Christians we should challenge those in power, especially when they seek to misuse it against others?
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