In Matthew 5:38-40 Jesus says some difficult things. They're summed up in verse 39, "But I say unto you, resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." What does Jesus mean?
Military, Police Officers
First, He is not teaching military strategy for dealing with our national enemies nor is He teaching police officers how to deal with criminals. He is not teaching us, when confronted with a murderer who kills one of our children, to forgive him and offer him another.
Our personal enemies
Rather, Jesus is teaching us as Christians how to deal with our personal enemies. He is teaching us a new attitude of life: to give up our personal rights for God's glory, to forgive those who personally offend us, to live a life of self-renunciation.
"Go, and sin no more!"
The Gospels include several stories of Jesus forgiving sinners. In John 8 we read the story of Jesus forgiving an adulteress who was about to be stoned by her self-righteous accusers. Jesus, who is God and who alone can read hearts, saw the broken, repentant heart of this woman and at the same time saw the hearts of the self-righteous accusers. He challenged, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." The accusers drifted away leaving Jesus and the adulteress alone. He looked at the woman and said, "Woman, where are thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?" She answered, "No man, Lord." Then Jesus spoke those wonderful words of forgiveness that He speaks to every repentant sinner, "Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more."
As Jesus forgave us our sins, so it is our responsibility as Christians to forgive those who personally offend us. Ephesians 4:32
It is government's job to resist crime; to find, arrest and punish dangerous criminals. It is not "Christian" to forgive criminals and give them another chance to do it again. That's not what Jesus is teaching in His Sermon on the Mount.
Turn the other cheek?
When Jesus was slapped on His cheek, He did not turn the other cheek and say, "Go ahead, slap that one!" Isaiah, prophesying of Jesus 700 years before He came on the scene, said in Isa. 50:6 "I gave my back to the smiters and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair. I hid not my face from shame and spitting." That's exactly what happened to Jesus during His mock trial and lynching. But the point I want to make is that when Jesus was slapped on one cheek, He did not turn the other cheek and say, "Slap this one also!" Instead, John 18:19-23 tells us that when they slapped Him, He answered, "Why smitest thou Me?" So what does Jesus mean when He tells us to turn the other cheek? I believe He is telling us to be willing to take whatever abuse is dished out to us by our personal enemies. He is teaching us to not fight back. Don't try to get even. At the same time, He is not telling us to overlook crime. Rather, we are to turn criminals over to the proper authorities and let them deal with the problem.
Juries, Judges, Beware! You will answer to God one day!
I remind you that Jesus' Sermon on the Mount is addressed to Christians. These verses I have just quoted from Paul are also addressed to Christians to show us how to deal with our personal enemies. Let God take care of vengeance for us and let human government faithfully do its job of carrying out that vengeance on our behalf. Woe be to the judges and juries and other public officials who turn their eyes and allow criminals to get away with murder. Their job under God is to carry out vengeance. Police officers, judges, and all who deal with crime are ministers of God, revengers to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil Romans 13:1-7
Suffering for Jesus
Jesus taught in Matthew 5:10-12 that we are to recognize ourselves as blessed when we are persecuted for righteousness sake. We are blessed when men revile us and say all manner of evil against us falsely for Christ's sake. We are to rejoice and be exceedingly glad for the privilege of suffering for Jesus. Peter says the same thing in I Peter 4:12-16. Paul rejoices in his persecution for Christ in I Corinthians 4:9-13. Peter in I Peter 2:19-23 reminds us to willingly and gladly accept the abuse of others for Christ's sake. He reminds us that Christ also suffered for us leaving us an example that we should follow in His steps."