SCRIPTURE FOR THIS SUNDAY: Matthew 5: 21-37                                                                                                                           

(I’ll be using The New Living Translation (NLT))

Teaching about Anger

21 “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ 22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.

23 “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.

25 “When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 And if that happens, you surely won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny.

Teaching about Adultery

27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.



Teaching about Divorce

31 “You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.’ 32 But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.

Teaching about Vows

33 “You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.’ 34 But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. 35 And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. 36 Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. 37 Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.

Pastor Bob’s Reflections on the Text:

This Sunday will be our third consecutive Sunday hearing about Jesus’ most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount.

In this third “lesson,” Jesus moves on from telling the assembled crowd “Who they are” (Blessed) and “What they are” (Salt & Light) to His real-life applications for how to live!

There are 4 “real-life lessons” that Jesus teaches in Sunday’s text. For each one, He tells his audience that He is teaching them something new that will go against what they previously had been taught. Jesus is asking them to unlearn what they have learned. This is how Jesus begins each of the 4 lessons:

  • You’ve heard it said … Do not murder …
  • You’ve heard it said … Do not commit adultery …
  • You have heard it said … a man can divorce his wife with a certificate …
  • And, you’ve heard it said … you must carry out your vows to God …

As Jesus reveals these 4 lessons, the crowd has yet to realize that He is teaching them about FREEDOM!

How do you think such firm and strict laws offer us any freedom?

Here are the characteristics of the true freedom Jesus is presenting:

  1. We are free when we commit ourselves to do the will of God.
  2. We are free when we live life in harmony with God’s justice, peace & mercy.
  3. We are free when we embrace a way of living that is defined by Love.

Jesus tells the crowd that He is not throwing the old laws out, but rather, He is fulfilling them. Could it be that when we view the original 10 Commandments as the final word on the Law, then we are worshipping God as the Jews do, not as a Christian? For Jews, the Law is a heavy burden that must be carried through life. For Christians, the Law is Freedom from our weaknesses and sin.

Jesus’ intent was never to set aside the Law as given to Moses, but instead to make them a central part of what it means to live in relationship with God.

How is this freedom?                                                                                                                                                                                   Because in very specific terms Jesus is showing us what it looks like to do God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. Not just to abide by the letter of the law to the best of our fallible abilities … but to “live” the law in the ordinariness of our daily lives.

We are all driven to some extent or another by our self-righteous wills. Becoming a Christian squashes that will, and creates a new will within you that desires more than anything else to follow God’s will and Jesus’ Way.                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Have a great week! See you on the Mount!

Pastor Bob <><