Commentaries
English
Matthew
  
d) Meekness Overcomes Revenge
(Matthew 5:38-42)
38You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.39But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. (Exodus21:24; John18:22-23; Romans12:19-21)


This old legislation was a fixed principal to the judges of the Jewish nation until today. They had to inflict punishment in cases of maiming, for frighten everyone who planed to do mischief on the one hand, and for a restraint to such as have suffered mischief done to them on the other. They should not insist on a greater punishment than is proper. It is not written, “a life for an eye,” or “a limb for the tooth.” But everyone should observe exactly the proportion, “an eye for an eye” only. It is intimated (Numbers 35:31), that the forfeiture in this case might be redeemed with money; for when it is provided that “no ransom shall be taken for the life of a murderer,” it is supposed that for maiming a pecuniary satisfaction was allowed.
Christ, the essence of truth, has declared Himself as love, for He is the incarnate truth. Jews and Muslims cannot prevent anybody from taking revenge, for their laws command them to do so. If they forgive freely, they have sinned. However, the New Testament considers any kind of revenge a sin, since Christ has carried the guilt and even suffered the punishment for every sinner. Therefore he was entitled to reveal the new law of love which supports us with the right to forgive and the power of meekness to give up our assumed rights willingly. The blood of Jesus has silenced the demands of the Old Testament law: No forgiveness without bloodshed! (Hebrew 9:22) Since the sinless Son of God died on the cross for all, revenge is no longer necessary. Jesus has freed us from this demand of this Mosaic Law.
The Holy Spirit forbids us from carrying out our supposed rights and personal aims with violence. He does not allow us to attain our desires using devious ways. God is love and He does not accept disobedience. His Spirit fights against the principles of vengeance. He is the divine stream of patience and toleration. Therefore, we wait for the providence of God and yield to His right guidance. You might ask, “Is this attitude not a weakness and failure to the will of man and a treading on his rights, which might open the door to increased wickedness?”
No! The meek one is the stronger if he submits himself to God, but the avenger is the weaker, for he allows hatred to rule his heart. He who renders evil for evil to anyone is as wicked as his adversary is, but he who meets iniquity with love is victorious over his selfishness. Wars and quarrels do not build any society. They destroy and poison it, but love, confidence, meekness, condescension and patience open to us the gate of hope.
Christ does not always expect from us a literal obedience with His saying, “Whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” When He was slapped during His trial before Ananias, the high priest, He did not ask the servant to slap Him again (John 18:22 and Acts 23:2). Christ makes clear to us that our exaggerated sensibility should be crushed, if we desire to enter the kingdom of heaven. So, give up your rights and do not defend yourself too much. Commit yourselves unto the Lord, and He will take the responsibility for you. The Holy Spirit will overcome your boiling agitating soul. If anyone slaps you, the proper thought would be: I deserve to be slapped for the numerous sins that I have committed. Blessed be God our Father that my meek Savior bore more than my painful slaps on the cross for me.

Prayer
O Heavenly Father, You are the truth full of love. For your righteousness You should punish every sin and sinner; but You loved us and put all our sins upon Your beloved Son that He might suffer instead of us. You delivered us from our punishment and forgave us our sins. Your Son paid and died for everyone. So we can also forgive our enemies since Christ took away their sins and their punishment as well. Please help us to forgive without exception that we may not harbor feelings of hatred against those who do evil to us.
Question
How did Christ deliver us from the law of revenge and punishment?