In Matthew 5:33-48, Jesus – as the one greater than Moses – contrasts his spiritual kingdom with the earthly geopolitical kingdom of Israel in the Promised Land, governed by the laws of the Mosaic (Old) covenant. What is most striking about Christ’s words here is that he overturns God’s commands given to Old Testament Israel to retaliate with strict and proportionate justice toward their enemies (eye-for-an-eye and tooth-for-a-tooth; verse 38.) Now in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls Christians to turn the other cheek when persecuted for the faith. Why this change of ethic? This is because God turned the other cheek when we slapped him in the face with our sin. God the Father turned his cheek by sacrificing his only begotten Son at Calvary. Through the sufferings and death of Christ, God’s justice has been satisfied and the curse of the law banished from the church. Because of Jesus the church is that one community in the world that does not operate according to the natural law principle of proportionate justice and retribution, but is rather a safe house governed by forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration. To turn the other cheek when wronged for our faith is to embody the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in this present evil age. To listen to this sermon, click here.
According to Jesus in the beatitudes in Matthew 5:9-12, peacemaking is a befitting of the children of God who have become participants in the life of the kingdom of heaven by grace alone through faith alone. Another distinguishing characteristic of the disciples of Christ living out the kingdom of heaven ethic in this world is that they will be persecuted. A sermon on this passage can be listened to here.