31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ ‘No’: anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
An Eye for an Eye
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
Love for Enemies
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Hebrews says “everything will be laid bare” and everything will be known.
Jesus repeats 6 times:
- “You have heard that it’s been said…”
- “But I tell you…”
Jesus took 6 important commands of God in the OT and reinterprets them in light of our new life in the NT and in his grace.
Last time, “I have not come to abolish the OT, but to fulfill it.”
Jesus therefore here makes a fundamental change, without altering God’s word. He deals with our attitudes and the motivations of our hearts. He doesn’t get rid of the commands, but shows the deeper meaning and motivations in our hearts.
- Retaliation (Revenge)
- Love for Enemies
#1: Murder (v. 21-26)
- “Raca” = Aramaic = Babo, mungchung, idiot, empty-headed person
- “Fool” = totally useless person
Do not murder = 6th of 10 commandments in Exodus. In the earthly kingdom, killing someone = murder. But in Jesus’ kingdom, anger = murder.
NOT “anger can lead to murder” but simply “anger IS murder.” Hating someone = murder. 1 John = “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer.” James = “Man’s anger doesn’t bring about the righteous life God desires.”
There IS of course “holy anger” against sin, etc. But this anger is nursed inwardly.
There is causeless anger – it explodes into words – Raca, fool. Anger = foolish. We must know that anger = makes us destroyers rather than builders. It robs us of freedom, fellowship, and makes us prisoners.
Sinful anger must be confessed as a serious sin.
Now, if we remember someone – relatives, coworkers, etc, who have something against us – we must stop worshiping God right now, stand up, run to him/her, and make it right. Leave your offering here, make it right, then return to give your offering.
We are worshiping God now, but our regular offering is not enough – we must also have right relationship with God and our brothers and sisters. If we hate someone, refuse to forgive, we are destroying the very ground on which we are walking. We must forgive quickly, because the longer we postpone, the worse the bondage becomes.
Ask yourself – which kingdom do you belong to?
Jesus declares as a rule “murder = anger without cause.”
But I tell you…
#2: Adultery (v. 27-30)
“Do not commit adultery” = 7th of 10 commandments.
In this world, adultery = adultery.
In Jesus’ kingdom, THINKING lustfully = adultery.
In this passage, Jesus reveals the sanctity of sex – he created it, regulates it, has the right to punish those who rebel against his intent. Sexual immorality begins with the desire of the heart. The two are not identical in this world, but spiritually speaking, the act and the desire are equivalent.
Jesus says, “Look” (not casual glance – but a long stare with the purpose of lusting).
It IS possible for a man to see a beautiful woman and think “Wow, she’s pretty” and not lust. But this “Look” Jesus says = not accidental, but a plan to look and lust and feed the inner lust.
For us, if we see sinful pictures on our computers, we must gouge out our eyes, cut off our hands, cut off our legs, remove our brains because brain signals to approach, open, see, enjoy. Also heart should be removed because heart tempted, seduced, etc. We should die to be free from sin completely, absolutely. Physical surgery cannot make us free from sin. How can we be free? Purify our hearts, discipline the actions of our bodies. Colossians 3:5 “Put to death the desires of the flesh…” Psalm 119! “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to his Word. I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.”
#3 Divorce/Marriage (v.__)
Give a certificate?
King James says, “sexual immorality” rather than “unfaithfulness.”
Marriage was designed by God from the time of Creation. In Genesis 1-2, God created Adam and Eve and said, “Therefore, a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife as one flesh.”
They had no father/mother, so this declaration of marriage = for ALL generations, including us.
Jesus deals with marriage in chp 19 later.
We’ll see more of this later.
#4: Oaths/swearing (v.33-37)
Leviticus 19:1 “Do not profane/blaspheme the holy name of your God.”
This is not the sin of cursing, but using oaths to confirm that what is said is true.
At that time, mostly the Pharisees used many tricks to sidestep the truth. The oaths are among them. They avoided using the holy name of God, but they came close using heaven, earth, Jerusalem, and some parts of their bodies.
We should know that our character, lives should be so true that we don’t need any special oaths/words to make others believe me. Oaths cannot compensate for poor character. Proverbs 17:10? “When words are many, sin is not absent. But he is wise who holds his tongue before God.”
#5: Retaliation/Revenge (v. 38-42)
Shall we practice?
The final sentence of this sermon = “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is a wise man (built his house on the rock).”
Leviticus 24:19-20 “If anyone injures his neighbor, whatever he has done must be done to him…as he has injured, so he must be injured.
This law was very fair – it kept the people from forcing the offender to pay a greater price than the offense deserved.
But, there was a problem for the sinfulness of human beings.
If person A hits person B, person B must hit back. Person A would complain “you hit harder than me! you hit in the wrong place!” so they pay again and again and again. So, revenge cannot solve the fighting. Revenge never stops, it makes the fighting bigger and longer. Retaliation makes the retaliator and retaliatee feel worse and the conclusion is worse, not better.
Jesus therefore says, Please, yourself, be willing to suffer loss rather than make another suffer.
It you get hit once, turn the other. This requires strong faith and love – we must trust Jesus. With Jesus this is possible, because he lives in me.
If someone wants to sue for your tunic (at that time, it was VERY valuable – there was no factory to make cloaks – they were very expensive and used for multiple purposes – clothes, blankets, sacks, mats to sit on, deposit to pawn shop, etc).
If someone forces you to go one mile (Jews were ruled, conquered by Rome – they were able to force the Jews to go up to 1 mile carrying something. If the Jews went just the 1 mile and stopped – loser. If they kept going for one more mile – overcome evil with good (Romans) Leave room for God’s wrath. “I will take revenge for you,” says God, “Do not overcome evil with evil, but with good.”
#6: Love for Enemies (v. 43-48)
Remove “hate your enemy”
At that time, to the Jews, tax collectors were the lowest class to Jews. Pagans were also the lowest class religiously.
- Leviticus 19:18 “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
- Exodus 23:4? “If you meet you neighbor’s horse/donkey wandering off, please be sure to take it back to him.”
In the OT, NOWHERE is it said, “Hate your enemy.” At that time the scribes added this sentence to the original sentence of God “Love your neighbor.” Our enemies are those who hate, persecute, exploit us. God challenges us to love our enemies.
Before this mandate of our Lord, we must remember (1) who is Jesus to me (2) who am I to Jesus – in our decisions, reactions, lives. Who/what controls us? Who is my Lord, Savior, example? What kingdom’s citizen am I?
We do live on earth, BUT we are also eternal citizens of the kingdom of God.
Those are basic questions we should ask. If we are really children of God. If we are really saved, it means we are totally different from others in our position, status, etc. We must be different in our attitudes, character, etc.
If we are really saved by the grace of God, it means we are better than them and because of that, we must BE better than them in our attitudes and reactions to different circumstances.
- THEY don’t know that Christ died for them.
- WE know that and we are reconciled to God.
- WE know how Jesus reacted toward his enemies when he suffered and died – he didn’t retaliate, he trusted himself to God fully.
- We know that we cannot do this ourselves. But Jesus’ command says we must – with him, with his power.
- “I can do nothing without Christ.”
- “I can do everything with Christ.”
Our God, Jesus, our King expects us to be perfect. Like Father, like Son. This is the final vision of God in his calling us. Romans 8 “Those he knew, he predestined to be like Christ so that Christ would be the firstborn of many brothers and sisters.”
May God bless us as children of God.