What Does It Mean to ‘Turn the Other Cheek?’ (Matthew 5:38-42)

This week we are getting into some of the most famous lines of the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:38-42, Jesus continues describing true righteousness by critiquing the religious leader’s interpretation of the law (or oral tradition regarding it). As He did with murder, adultery, divorce, and making oaths, Jesus exposes the religious leaders’ hypocrisy and describes the true righteousness that will characterize the members of His kingdom. He does that by revealing the true nature of the law by applying it to the heart.

Jesus continues this method of teaching by quoting Exodus 21:24 in v.38-42, “You have heard that it was said, ‘eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I say to you, do not show opposition against an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other toward him also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you” (Matt 5:39-42).

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