Could Jesus have hated anyone when he spoke words of forgiveness and non-resistance to wickedness? Did he not say, “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27), “Do not resist him that is wicked; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39) and, alternately, “To him that strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also” (Luke 6:29)?
Answer: These verses are taken as representative of the extraordinary forgiveness taught and exercised by Jesus. However, the sublime dictum to “turn the other cheek” was not practiced by Jesus himself. According to the Gospels, Jesus preached turning the other cheek, loving one’s neighbor and praying for them, and forgiving those who wrong you. When did Jesus manifest such behavior in his personal relationships, during his lifetime, for others to emulate? Was it his cursing of the Pharisees (Matthew 23), his threat of violent retribution on cities that rejected his message (Matthew 11:20-24, Luke 10:13-15), or his condemnation to death of Jews who would not accept him (Luke 19:27)? The fact of the matter is that he himself never turned the other cheek. Jesus never forgave anyone who rejected his claims. He responded to his opponents, not with passive resistance, but by Answering criticism with criticism, reviling and threatening his adversaries (for example, Matthew 23).
It is clear from the Gospels that Jesus never forgave anyone who wronged or criticized him. At best, he only forgave those who wronged others. Whenever an opportunity arose to personally forgive someone, he always declined. For example, “he [Jesus] began to reproach the cities in which most of his miracles were done, because they did not repent. ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you Bethsaida! . . . Nevertheless I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, then for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You shall descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you'” (Matthew 11:20-24, Luke 10:13-15). Instead of forgiving Judas for betraying him he said: “But woe to that man through whom the Son of Man is betrayed!
It would have been good for that man if he had not been born” (Matthew 26:24).
In John 18:22-23, we find that Jesus, when beaten by an officer, instead of offering quietly his other cheek argues with him:
But having said these things, one of the officers standing by gave Jesus a slap, saying: “Is that the way you Answer the high priest?” Jesus Answered him: “If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness concerning the wrong; but if rightly, why do you hit me?”
For his part, Paul, that great follower of Jesus, did not submit meekly to the high priest Ananias’ order that he be smitten on the mouth:
And the High Priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him: “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall. And do you sit to judge me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck? (Acts 23:2-3)
Paul did not offer his cheek in compliance with Jesus’ command. Instead, he swore at Ananias in direct contradiction of another of Jesus’ alleged commandments: “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28), and his own statement: “Bless those who persecute you; bless, and do not curse” (Romans 12:14).