02242019 Epiphany 7/8 Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

“Turn the other cheek so Jesus will save us!!”

02242019 Epiphany 7/8 Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

February 24, 2019
“Turn the other cheek so Jesus will save us!!”
Sermon Audio

Unless you have been deeply hidden under a rock or cut off from electricity, radio or any communication with the outside world in the last decade, you have probably witnessed the media’s relentless storm of the last 10 to 20 years.  This storm has caused many long time friends to sever relationships, because they find themselves on different sides of the political aisle. This saddens me, because as one meme recently said, ‘we should have been taught...how to have a civil conversation about a difficult topic’.  Our Gospel this morning offers all of us insight and a possible avenue of how followers of Jesus Christ can respond not only to our broken relationships, but especially to and for those who have differing views on multiple topics and how we can engage rather than bully because we disagree.

Jesus in last week’s Gospel had finished pointing out how one could either receive blessing or woes, if they followed Jesus guidance.  Immediately from our Gospel lesson this week, Jesus explained further how one could be blessed by ‘loving one’s enemies’. This was a tough pill to swallow for the disciples.  They had left everything they knew, the normalcy of their lives, lifestyle, their livings and family and followed Jesus crisscrossing desolate Israel. Instead of an easy journey, being with Jesus was fraught with being nomadic, engaging the scribes and Pharisee’s in every town who despised them and made Jesus and by extension them, public enemy number one.  The tension they felt was clear and palatable and made them extremely uncomfortable even in their own hometowns. How could or should they have responded? Jesus gives them the answer. Simply, all disciples of Jesus Christ, including we who gather here today should “Turn the other cheek so Jesus will save us!”

All who have heard this analogy of ‘turning the other cheek’ usually think in terms of the playground scuffle or the encounter with enemies that revile or scorn us, and the other person should ‘turn their cheek’.  Yes it applies in these cases, but honestly it is hard for anyone of us to do this. Jesus disciples who beheld the Son of God, walked with Him, saw Him feed thousands, heal the sick of all diseases of mind, body and spirit, needed clarification what ‘turning the other cheek’ meant.  This is why Jesus goes on to explain for His disciples what love is even for His enemies and by extension even for we who gather here today. We are to “Turn the other cheek so Jesus will save us!”

This is easier said than done both for the disciples and for we who gather here today.  Our culture is toxic to the point of pointing out inadequacies in others while our own actions are not always the best nor the same standard that we hold ourselves to, when we gladly point out others perceived need for improvement..  Jesus even points this out when He says, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned”.  If our society were not only to hear this message, but see it lived out by Christians, the world may possibly change.  But honestly, the world will not change by our individual actions. The only way our world will change is to reorient our individual and collective perspective and accept what is offered to us and all of mankind through Jesus Christ.  If and when we “Turn the other cheek so Jesus will save us!”

Fred Rogers once said, “To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now”.  Mr. Rogers statement finds its roots in Jesus teachings of love and helps us to understand that we are to love one another so that others can see and experience the love of God through us, by our daily ‘turning the other cheek’, by our changing ourselves in order that others can see Jesus Christ through us and our daily actions.  When we “Turn the other cheek so Jesus will save us” means that the world will not see us, but see the Savior that lives in each of us, not through our judging eyes that see the sin in us or our neighbor, but through Jesus eyes and His free offer of grace and forgiveness He offers us so we can receive the blessing of life and salvation that Jesus wants to freely offer us out of His great love for us.  Hence why we can “Turn the other cheek so Jesus will save us!”

In our Old Testament lesson this morning, Joseph, scorned brother who had been treated badly, sold into slavery, been missing and presumed dead by his family is a timely example for us today.  He was not recognized by his own brothers. Joseph could have treated his brothers worse than they deserved for what they had done to him many years before. But God revealed to Joseph, God’s plan and instead of the human ‘knee jerk reaction’, did ‘turn the other cheek’.  Joseph showed what true grace means and provides a clear demonstration of how we who gather here today can, “Turn the other cheek so Jesus will save us!”

The wisdom God offers us today shown unto us by Joseph in how we can show mercy and grace is clear.  Fred Rogers summarized it so well how we can live our lives in our toxic culture. “Everyone longs to be loved.  And the greatest thing we can do is let people know that they are loved and capable of loving.”  When we reflect and show the love of God for us and for all of mankind no matter the situation, by our actions toward our enemies and those who hate us as well as within the church, we will clearly emulate Jesus teaching from our Gospel this morning.  Which will demonstrate the Gospel of love that Jesus came to live among His disciples, teach the crowds by the Sea of Galilee and that we today in spite of the toxic culture that surrounds us enable all of us to “Turn the other cheek so Jesus will save us!”  AMEN!