Life for Life: Turning Cheeks is Costly

In Exodus 21, Moses is detailing the consequences for actions and injuries relating to personal interactions. Manslaughter and murder and kidnapping and even the actions of oxen are covered.  It’s not always easy to relate or understand, and then Jesus blew it up…

Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise…
Exodus 21:23-25

The gist of the law is retribution.  There is no action without equal and opposite reaction – isn’t that the truth?  This has been debated forever in society, especially since Jesus said the following words in Matthew 5:

“You have heard that is was said, ‘and eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
Matthew 5:38-39

What is it God?  Is it an eye for an eye or turn the other cheek?

Well, somehow it is both.  Somehow.  Jesus was definitely redefining our relationships to introduce a sense of grace into the way we relate, yet there is still consequence for sin.

Jesus himself is the example of how even in grace, which covers us, there was retribution, in which Jesus himself took the penalty for us on the cross.  No sin I have committed has ever gone unpunished.

Even if a cheek was turned for me, Jesus bore my transgression.

And so in the context of grace, Jesus still satisfied the law.  In fact, Jesus’ fulfillment of the law set the stage for grace to be possible.

Praise be to God.


Marc Kinna

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