Retaliation • Devotion 4

Legion of Angels
Adam Moore

“You have heard that it was said, ‘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.” Mathew 5:38-42

Retaliation is an activity typically done to get even, or oftentimes one up an attack from somebody else. We see this in sports, politics, personal relationships, and sadly, governing bodies. It is a human action that is so easy to succumb to within our sinful flesh, yet Jesus commands us not to.

Throughout Scripture, you will find that we are reminded that vengeance belongs to the Lord (Romans 12:9).

In these passages, Jesus is delivering the Sermon on the Mount and reminds His audience of their law and how they are familiar with the notion of an “eye for an eye.” The law seems fairly measured and was not stated that if someone takes your eye to respond by taking both of their eyes and their legs. Jesus is preaching to His audience and states that if someone strikes you on your right cheek to respond to them by turning your left cheek also. It takes a great deal of humility and self-discipline to respond to a situation like this. Jesus later puts His own words into action as He heads to the cross and men strike Him, and spit on Him. Can you imagine the leader of any country in the world today standing by and letting an angry crowd strike and spit on them while having a fully prepared army standing by watching? Of course not, and yet the King of kings had a legion of angels at His command that could have come and wiped out humanity.

We often get caught in the self-serving act of retaliation while dealing with human emotion. For a good portion of my life, I participated in martial arts. I recall one time at a tournament that my opponent threw a roundhouse kick that struck the side of my head. I would love to say that I recalled the words of Jesus at that moment and turned to my opponent the other cheek as well (figuratively speaking), but I was angry and what unfolded next ended up in me being disqualified.

Jesus commands that we turn the other cheek and that if we are under obligation to go one mile then make it two. His desire is for us to go over and above the expectations of our fellow man and to set the example as Christ’s followers. Do you remember the centurion at the cross? He witnessed all of Jesus’ humility and suffering and concluded, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54). May we desire to be more like Jesus so that when our enemies want to see us crucified, the centurions in our life will look at us and recognize that we are the “Children of God.”

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