Many of the teachings of Jesus Christ are grossly misunderstood. Typically, the teachings are misunderstood, because Jesus taught in parables, and perhaps to some extent, in what can be referred to as statements that have characterization as riddles.
Why did Jesus do this?
Well, because the Jews had been judged by His Father, there was demand, from His Father, for presentation of the truth in a manner that could annoy those who already had chosen evil attitudes towards God and their fellow men.
Judgment of The Father had come in form of the people’s response to ministry of John the Baptist. While the people had flocked to John the Baptist to be baptized (Matthew 21:26), they would not change their ways, continued to live in hatred of one another, and hatred for the Romans (Luke 3:7–14; John 8:44).
But with the Romans respecting all Jewish traditions, including funding of building of synagogues (Luke 7:1–5), and allowance of all Jewish feasts, there was not any imposition from Rome, merely presence of Roman forces for protection of Rome’s dominance of the world.
If people are able to live their lives as they deem fit, particularly in context of religious and financial freedoms, and if positions of civil authority are held by locals, there is not any oppression from a foreign occupier.
The Evidence from words of Jesus Christ Himself that the people had been judged by His Father to be pretentious?
Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them’ (Matthew 13:13–15, NKJV).
In Mathematics, there exists a principle referred to as Backward Induction (BI). In Matthew 13:13–15, Jesus applies BI as follows. The people having decided that they did not have any desire for truth (‘their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn’), He and His Father would speak to them in words that would confirm their pre-existing biases, in words that would make it difficult for them to believe in Him.
In the choice of such words, words that are difficult to hear, words that might seem not to make any sense, only those who truly desired to know the truth of God, only those who truly loved God, would have a chance to believe in Jesus.
When people who truly are in search of truth hear things that they find difficult to understand, they do not scorn or dismiss, rather they mull, they ponder, they consider, such that they arrive at a reasoned response.
Jesus was not after numbers. With love for God evident in the belief that all men are created equal, His goal was to draw, to Himself and His Father, all those who truly love both truth and God.
Jesus did not seek fame or popularity, sought genuineness, sincerity, love for truth, and purposeful faith, not numbers, not crowds.
So then, in Matthew 13:16–17, Jesus turns to His disciples and declares:
But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
Many people today do not understand Person of Jesus, do not understand that Jesus came to earth to find ‘12 men’ who would believe in Him sufficiently to the extent they would change the world.
The Evidence for His success?
Within 300 years, that is, by founding of the Christian Byzantine Empire by Constantine the Great, Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire in 325 AD, absent lifting of any swords by disciples of Jesus for coercing of anyone into faith, the entire Roman Empire was officially Christian.
Consider then one of the teachings of Jesus that is grossly misunderstood, a teaching, which has characterization as somewhat of a riddle. In Matthew 5:39 Jesus teaches as follows.
But I — I say to you, not to resist the evil, but whoever shall slap thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other (Young’s Literal Translation).
Now then, let us consider Jesus’ very own actions, and teachings directed at His disciples.
Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by (John 8:59, NKJV).
So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way (Luke 4:28–30, NKJV).
So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which my Father has given me (John 18:11, NKJV).
When they persecute you in this city, flee to another (Matthew 10:23, NKJV).
If you see a contradiction, you look at the evidence with Western Modern eyes, not with understanding of the times in which Jesus lived and taught.
First, note that eventually Jesus practiced His teaching, did not resist the evil that sought to crucify Him, did not resist the evil that sought to mistreat Him. This evil was orchestrated by the rulers of the people, by the people in possession of civil authority. When evil targeted at him occurred at whim and caprice of the crowds, however, Jesus resisted, would not submit to the evil.
The essence then of the teaching from Jesus in Matthew 5:39?
When evil (injustice) is from the State, from the civil authority, and you are not able to escape the evil, do not adopt violence for resistance to the evil (injustice).
Jesus declares that terrorism of any sort is contrary to faith in Himself and His Father. Christians are not to terrorize their fellow men (John 18:11), only so they can strike fear into a civil government.
In obedience to Jesus, whenever Apostle Paul was mistreated in any city (Acts 14:19), he left the city (Acts 14:20), did not attempt to insist that he had the right, as a Roman citizen to be there.
In ancient times, the phrase ‘to turn the other cheek’ meant ‘to not seek revenge’, did not mean to passively seek out additional mistreatment.
Whenever the apostles left a city in which they had been mistreated, they ‘turned the other cheek’.
When they were arrested by the state, however, that is, by the civil authority, Apostles Paul, Peter, and James, and the next generation of Apostles, such as Ignatius of Antioch all were willing to be martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ.
The teachings of Jesus are extremely deep, and many who start off reading with scorn lose opportunity for arrival at depth of thought and wisdom that accrue from willingness to engage with teachings of Jesus Christ with reasoning, as opposed to hubris of assumed superior intelligence.
People who are wise are quick to listen, slow to speak, do not assume that a non-violent man (Jesus Christ) whom the establishment of His time was so afraid of, it was willing to unjustly crucify Him, whose teachings conquered a worldwide Roman empire, whose system of spirituality is the only system that has more (proportional) adherents outside of region of it’s origin (the Middle East), was not indeed as wise as His own detractors — the Pharisees and Sadducees — deemed Him to be.