Matthew 5: The Sermon on the Mount

380 matthaeus 5 the sermon part 2Jesus contrasts six ancient teachings with the new teachings. Six times he quotes the previous teaching, mostly from the Torah itself. Six times he explains that they are not enough. He shows a more demanding standard of justice.

Do not despise the others

"You have heard that to the ancients it is said," Thou shalt not kill [murder] "; but he who kills [is] to be guilty of the judgment "(v. 21). This is a quotation from the Torah, which also summarizes the civil laws. People heard it when the script was read to them. In the days before the art of printing people have mostly heard the writing instead of reading.

Who spoke the words of the law "to the ancients"? It was God Himself on Mount Sinai. Jesus does not quote a falsified tradition of the Jews. He quotes the Torah. Then he sets the commandment to a stricter scale: "But I say unto you, he that is angry with his brother is guilty of judgment" (v. 22). Perhaps, according to Tora, this may have been so intentional, but Jesus does not argue on that basis. He does not specify who authorized him to teach. What he teaches is true, for the simple reason that he is the one who says it.

We are judged because of our anger. Someone who wants to kill or wants someone else's death is a murderer in his heart, even if he can not or does not want to do it. However, not every anger is a sin. Jesus himself was sometimes angry. But Jesus says it clearly: Anyone who is angry is under the jurisdiction. The principle is in hard words; the exceptions are not listed. At this point, and elsewhere in the sermon, we find that Jesus formulates his demands extremely clearly. We can not take statements from the sermon and act as if there were no exceptions.

Jesus adds: "But whoever says to his brother," You nothing good, "is guilty of the High Council; but he who says, "You fool!" is guilty of hellish fire "(v. 22). Jesus does not refer here to new cases to the Jewish leaders. It is more likely that he uses "worthlessness" to quote an expression that has already been taught by the scribes. Next, Jesus says that the punishment that is imposed for a vicious attitude goes far beyond the civil court judgment - it ultimately goes to the Last Judgment. Jesus himself called people "fools" (Mt 23,17, with the same Greek word). We can not use these expressions as legalistic rules that must be followed literally. It's about making something clear. The point is that we should not despise other people. This principle goes beyond the intention of the Torah, for true righteousness characterizes the kingdom of God.

Jesus makes it clear through two parables: "Therefore, if you sacrifice your gift on the altar, and there it comes to mind that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go first and reconcile with your brother, and then come and sacrifice Jesus lived in a time when the Old Covenant was still valid and his reaffirmation of the laws of the Old Covenant does not mean that they are still in force today. His parable indicates that interpersonal relationships are more valuable than victims. If someone has something against you (legitimate or not), then the other person should take the first step. If she does not, do not wait; take the initiative. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. Jesus does not give a new law, but explains the principle in clear terms: Seek to reconcile you.

"Compete with your opponent immediately, while you are still with him on the way, so that the opponent does not answer to the judge and the judge to the usher and you are thrown into prison. Truly, I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid the last penny "(v. 25-26). Once again, it is not always possible to settle disputes outside the court. We should not let prosecutors put pressure on us. Also, Jesus does not predict that we will never be granted mercy before a civil court. As I said, we can not raise Jesus' words to strict laws. He also does not give us any wise advice on how to avoid the debtor's prison. What is more important to him is that we seek peace, because that is the way of true justice.

Do not covet

"You have heard that it is said, 'Thou shalt not commit adultery'" (v. 27). God gave this commandment on Mount Sinai. But Jesus tells us, "He who beholds a woman to desire her has already broken the marriage in her heart with her" (v. 28). The 10. Bid forbid to covet the 7. Do not bid. It prohibited "adultery" - a behavior that could be regulated by civil laws and penalties. Jesus does not try to consolidate his teaching through Scripture. He does not have to do it. He is the living Word and has more authority than the written Word.

Jesus teachings follow a scheme: the old law calls a concrete thing, but true justice requires much more. Jesus makes extreme statements to put it in a nutshell. When it comes to adultery, he says, "But if your right eye deceives you, tear it out and throw it away from you. It is better for you to ruin one of your members and not throw your whole body into hell. If your right hand seduces you to waste, cut it off and throw it away from you. It is better for you that one of your limbs perish and not the whole body go to hell "(v. 29-30). Of course it would be better to lose a body part than eternal life. But that is not really our alternative, since eyes and hands can not lead us to sin; if we removed them, we would commit another sin. Sin comes from the heart. What we need is a change of heart. Jesus emphasizes that our thinking needs to be treated. It takes extreme measures to eliminate sin.

Do not divorce

"It is also said:" Whoever divorces his wife should give her a letter of divorce "(V. 31). This refers to the scripture in 5. Mo 24,1-4, which accepts the divorce letter as an established custom among the Israelites. This law did not allow a married woman to remarry with her first husband, but apart from this rare situation, there were no restrictions. The law of Moses allowed the divorce, but Jesus did not allow it.

"But I say unto you, who parted from his wife, except for adultery, that makes her break the marriage; and he who marries a divorced one breaks the marriage "(v. 32). This is a hard statement - difficult to understand and difficult to implement. Suppose a bad man rejects his wife for no reason. Is she automatically a sinner? And is it a sin for another man to marry this victim of a divorce?

We would make a mistake if we interpreted Jesus' statement as an unchangeable law. Because Paul was shown by the Spirit that there is another legitimate exception for a divorce (1, Kor 7,15). Although this is a study of the Sermon on the Mount, we should remember that Matthew 5 does not cover the last word on divorce. What we see here is only part of the overall picture.

Jesus' statement here is a shocking statement that wants to make something clear - in this case, divorce is always linked to sin. God intended to have a life-long commitment in marriage, and we should strive to cling to her in the way he intended. Jesus did not try to talk about what to do when things are not going the way they should.

Do not swear

"You have kept hearing that the old saying is," Thou shalt not swear false oath, and obey the oath unto the Lord "(v. 33). These principles are taught in the Old Testament scriptures (4, Mo 30,3, 5, Mo 23,22). But what the Torah clearly permitted, Jesus did not do it: "But I say to you that ye should not swear, neither in heaven, for he is the throne of God; still with the earth, for she is the footstool of his feet; still with Jerusalem, for she is the city of the great king "(v. 34-35). Obviously, the Jewish leaders, citing these things, allowed to swear, perhaps to avoid the pronunciation of the holy name of God.

"Thou shalt not swear by thy head; because you can not make a single hair white or black. But your speech is yes, yes; No no. What is above is evil. "(V. 36-37)

The principle is simple: honesty - made clear in an amazing way. Exceptions are allowed. Jesus himself went beyond a simple yes or no. Often he said Amen, Amen. He said that heaven and earth will pass, but his words would not do it. He called God to witness that he was telling the truth. Similarly, in his letters Paul used some oaths of assurance instead of just saying yes (Rom 1,9, 2, Kor 1,23).

So we see again that we do not have to treat the expressive statements of the Sermon on the Mount as prohibitions to be obeyed literally. We should just be honest, but in certain situations we can especially affirm the truth of what we have said.

In a court to use a modern example, we are allowed to "swear" that we are telling the truth, and therefore we can call on God for help. It is petty to say that "an affidavit" is acceptable, but "swearing" is not. In court, these words are synonymous - and both are more than a yes.

Do not seek revenge

Jesus again quotes from the Torah: "You have heard that it is said, 'An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth'" (v. 38). It is sometimes claimed that this was just the highest amount of retribution in the Old Testament. In fact, it was a maximum, but sometimes it was the minimum (3, Mo 24,19-20, 5, Mo 19,21).

However, Jesus forbids what the Torah demands: "But I say to you that ye should not resist the evil" (v. 39a). But Jesus Himself resisted bad persons. He drove money changers out of the temple. The apostles resisted false teachers. Paul defended himself by relying on his right as a Roman citizen when soldiers were to scourge him. Jesus' statement is an exaggeration again. It is allowed to defend against bad persons. Jesus allows us to take action against bad people by reporting crimes to the police.

Jesus' next statement must also be seen as exaggerating. That does not mean that we can dismiss them as irrelevant. It is all about the understanding of the principle; we must allow it to challenge our behavior without developing a new code of law from these rules, assuming that exceptions are never allowed.

"If someone beats you on your right cheek, offer it to others" (v. 39b). Under certain circumstances, it is best to just go away as Peter did (Act 12,9). It is also not wrong to defend oneself orally like Paul (Act 23,3). Jesus teaches us a principle and not a rule that must be strictly followed.

"And if someone wants to go along with you and take your skirt, let it go. And if someone forces you to go a mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow something from you "(V. 40-42). If people sue you for 10.000 francs, then you do not have to give them 20.000 francs. If someone steals your car, you do not have to give up your van. If a drunk asks you for 10 francs, you do not have to give him anything at all. Jesus' exaggerated statements are not about allowing other people to get an advantage at our expense and not having to reward them for it. Rather, he is concerned that we do not retaliate. Seek to make peace; Do not try to harm others.

Not hate

"You have heard that it is said, 'You shall love your neighbor' and hate your enemy" (v. 43). The Torah commands love and she commanded Israel to kill all Canaanites and punish all evildoers. "But I tell you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you" (v. 44). Jesus teaches us another way, a way that does not occur in the world. Why? What is the model for all this rigorous justice?

"To be children of your Father in heaven" (v. 45a). We should be like him and he loved his enemies so much that he sent his son to die for them. We can not let our children die for our enemies, but we should love them as well and pray for them that they are blessed. We can not keep up with the standard set by Jesus as pointing the way. But our repeated mistakes should not stop us from trying anyway.

Jesus reminds us that God "lets the sun rise over evil and good and rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (v. 45b). He is kind to everyone.

"For if you love, who love you, what will you have for reward? Do not the same also do the customs officers? And if you are only nice to your brothers, what is special about them? Do not the same thing do the Gentiles? "(V. 46-47). We are called to do more than the usual, more than unconverted people do. Our inability to be perfect does not change our vocation to strive for improvement.

Our love for others should be perfect, extending to all people, that is what Jesus intends when he says, "Therefore you shall be perfect, as your Father is perfect in heaven" (v. 48).

by Michael Morrison


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