Topic: Luke's Perspective of Jesus: Ch. 6 Message Outlines
Luke 6:20-49 (15)
by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 5 Study # 15 January 20, 2008 Lincolnton, N.C.
(408)Thesis:Turn the other cheek.
Introduction:So far in our studies of Jesus' teaching regarding the true nature of the Kingdom of God in respect to its expression in the kingdoms of men, we have considered Jesus' instructions in a relatively general sense. Love your enemies is a relatively big concept that can easily get lost in the day to day details of living in an ungodly world.
For this reason I have prepared the following structural analysis of this segment of Jesus' teaching so that you might have it before you as we get deeper into the actual details.
If You Are Still Listening
A -- Love your enemies
B -- Do good to those who hate you
C -- Bless those who curse you
D -- Pray for those who denigrate you
E -- Turn the other cheek
F -- Withhold not your coat also
G -- Give to those who ask of you
H -- Do unto others as you would have them do to you
How Have You Been 'Gracious'?
A2 -- If you love those who love you, of what sort of "thanks" is it to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
B2 -- If you do good to those who do good to you, of what sort of "thanks" is it to you? For sinners do the same.
G2 -- If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, of what sort of "thanks" is it to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive the equivalent.
In Great Contrast
A3 -- Love your enemies
B3 -- Do good
G3 -- Lend, nothing despairing
Great will be your reward;
By this means you will be "sons" of the Most High because He is "kind" to the unthankful and evil.
Beginning with Jesus' command to "turn the other cheek", we actually move into a pretty concrete expression of what "love your enemies" means. Prior to this issue, we were not actually physically endangered by our practice of the Kingdom's morality in the immoral setting of the kingdoms of men. But, it is difficult indeed to read, "turn the other cheek" and not get the impression that this "practice" of "loving one's enemies" could actually turn physically painful.
Therefore, we are going to look into what Jesus meant by His command.
I. Some Reasons For Thoughtfulness.
A. At the doctrinal level, there are those who teach that Jesus' teaching on the mountain was not intended for application until the "setting" of the Kingdom was established.
1. Hermeneutically this involves a theological imposition upon Jesus' teaching that is typically called "rightly dividing the Word of Truth" and consists of making sure that "Israel Truth", "Church Truth", and "Kingdom Truth" are kept distinct from one another in a kind of "absolutist" way.
2. There is a real necessity for understanding that divine instruction regarding what is to be practiced does shift through time as the progress of the divine program is worked out in history (see Mark 7:19 and the records of the book of Acts regarding the shifting practices of the church as the Gospel moved beyond the borders of Israel).
3. But, there are some other issues involved also.
a. There are almost always textual/contextual issues that give direction.
b. In this context, the issue is at least three-fold.
1) First, Jesus was actually teaching real people in a real setting that did not include a real "kingdom" setting.
2) Second, there is the issue of "what credit is that to you?".
3) Third, there is the issue of "being sons of the Most High".
B. At the doctrinal level, there are those who teach a relatively absolute "pacifism" because of their perception of Jesus' meaning.
1. Hermeneutically this involves a kind of bland disregard for the text and its context as well as a hypocritical use of those who reject "pacifism" in order to practice it.
a. In the setting to which Jesus addressed His words there was a clear insistence that soldiers do their jobs (see Luke 3:14) legitimately.
b. Absolute (consistent) pacifism cannot work in a fallen world.
2. But the fact is that Jesus did say to "turn the other cheek".
C. At the biblical level, there are teachings that have to be put together in harmony.
1. None of the teachings of Jesus are addressed to the "international" community.
2. The teachings of the Bible clearly declare that the function of government is to bear the sword in the interests of justice; this is not "turning the other cheek".
3. The teaching of Jesus regarding how to deal with conflict in the Church does not include "turning the other cheek".
II. Turning the Other Cheek.
A. If we consider the structure of this thought-unit, we can see that "turning the other cheek" is one of the "particulars" that fit under the command to "do good to those who hate you".
B. There are two crucial issues in this thought-unit.
1. The first is "grace": the "what credit is that to you?" is a way of asking "How have you been gracious?"
a. This is not an "Israel", "Church", "Kingdom" issue; it is a "characteristic of God" issue.
b. All "characteristic of God" issues are "immutable".
c. The question of whether the action we have taken can be called "gracious" is a key question and, in a very real sense, defines "turning the other cheek" in that we are never supposed to "seek vengeance" in any case.
2. The other is "so shall ye be sons of the Most High".
a. This, again, is a "characteristic of God" issue as it is related to how it is developed in men.
b. Underlying this issue is the declaration that God is "kind".
1) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says that one is "kind" when a need is met by something that actually serves the need with good.
2) In this sense, turning the other cheek simply works as a restraint under the auspices of "kindness".
C. There is also the following example of Jesus when He "turned the other cheek" just before He was crucified (John 19:3 specifically records blows "to His face" and Isaiah 50:4-9 has multiple "Messianic" references).
A. The example set by Jesus was a mute submission when injustice was executed by the government: He did not resist the evil (Matthew 5:39).
B. The complications of the other teachings of Scripture that cover specific "settings" almost has to mean that "turning the other cheek", when it is not a government-empowered issue, is deciding to be gracious because one can be.
C. There are two major restrictions: one is not free to be "gracious" with the lives and experiences of others when, by turning the other cheek, others suffer the consequences; and the other is when there is no significant violation of governmental law involved.