What Jesus Did! 'Redeeming Insult' — Matthew 5:38-39

Monday, March 1, 2021

[Jesus continued:] "You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also."
— Matthew 5:38-39 NLT

Key Thought

Jesus' words draw us to the values of our Heavenly Father. Rather than passively accepting evil, we are to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). Like the suffering servant in Isaiah* who suffers, serves, and redeems in the face of attack and ridicule, we are to work redemption in the face of mistreatment. Jesus reminds us that we are to redeem rather than to try to get even. A slap on the cheek in Jesus' day was more a social insult than a physical injury. In our day, we seldom slap someone on the cheek to embarrass or humiliate that person. Instead, we shoot them a "zinger," cut them down sarcastically, or tell a joke at their expense. This behavior is out of bounds for believers. Such talk does not accomplish the redemption God has called us to share with others.

* See Isaiah 42:1–4, 49:1–6, 50:4–7, 52:13–53:12.

Today's Prayer

Holy and patient Father, please strengthen me so that I will look for ways to redeem those who shame and humiliate me. I know that vengeance will only poison my heart and alienate me from the insulting party. Give me grace to react with kindness even toward those who are unkind to me. In the name of the one who did not rebuke his accusers, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Romans 12:17-19
  • Proverbs 15:11
  • Ephesians 4:29-32


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Illustration of Matthew 5:38-39 NLT — "You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth."

About This Devotional

What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware and is available in book form.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.