Mac Lacy

A new look at turning the other cheek

Posted by Mac Lacy in Middle East on June 27, 2010


Wisam Salsaa was our guide for most of this trip.  He is Palestinian and works out of Bethlehem.  He is a Christian.  On our way into Jerusalem from Jericho, he brought up an age-old teaching of Jesus, but added this caveat:

‘When Jesus said ‘if someone strikes you on the right cheek, offer them the left’, he was talking about the Romans.  The Roman soldiers would not use their right hand against you because the right hand is their best hand.  They would use their left hand to strike you because you are not their equal.  So when Jesus said to turn the left cheek to them, he was talking about rejecting their superiority.  This forces them to use their right hand to strike your left cheek.  In doing so, you force them to treat you as an equal.  You were refusing to acknowledge their superiority by doing this.’

It made me think about his teaching on forgiveness.  If you forgive someone who does something against you–how much can they hurt you?  Forgiveness becomes a powerful act of overcoming a transgression against you. In a way you are refusing to let that person harm you. On this trip, you begin to realize what a revolutionary figure this man Jesus was and how the downtrodden must have been drawn to him.  And how the powerful must have despised him.


These three girls reside in Nablus, a conflict-scarred town that is almost exclusively Muslim. Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet and will return for the resurrection.

This chairmaker works in Nazareth Village, a very authentic reconstruction of life there in Jesus’ time.

Mosaics from throughout the world adorn the courtyard at Basilica of the Enunciation in Nazareth, which is built at the site of Mary’s home. This mosaic is from Spain.

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