Monday, January 19, 2009

Matthew 5:21-48

Here Jesus begins a formula that redefines righteousness. The formula is a variation on this theme, "You have heard from old, but I say to you." Jesus drills deeper on righteousness. None of us can say that we've done the law, even the ten commandments, if we've just kept them on the outside.

Some unrelated observations:
  • It is more important to be reconciled to your brother than it is to go to worship. (Matthew 5:23-24).
  • The heart-level standard for adultery is desire. If I desire someone I am not married to, so that they meet a need, real or imagined, in my heart I am crossing the line. If I am looking or thinking in such a way that it will be about me, then I am committing adultery. God made marriage for the satisfaction of my needs and desires. My contemplation of someone else in connection with those desires is sin.
  • It is hard to believe the rabbis taught that it was fine to hate your enemies (Matthew 8:43-44), but Jesus elevated that teaching by requiring love even for those we consider enemies. We are to love those we don't like.
  • If the law was not a high enough standard, Jesus wants us to be perfect, like our Father in heaven is perfect.
  • God's perfection is seen here in the context of loving enemies!


Diane said...

I have to admit, these verses were difficult for me. When I use them as a measuring tool to see how wide the differences are between me and my savior and God, it's easy to be discouraged. While I don't often outwardly act out, inwardly is a different story! How often have I gotten angry at someone for a real or percveived slight, and wanted them to make the matter right. These verses show, by God's measuring stick, that I have a long way to go. I have plenty of other examples, but you get the idea. Does anyone else struggle with this?

So seriously does Jesus consider the matter that He tells us "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell." The problem isn't so much my eyes but my heart. I just hope Jesus can continue to soften it.

Just an aside observation: I noticed that Jesus talks an awful lot about hell, more so than I remember anyone else in the NT.

RevReav said...

Thanks for your honesty. You're right it isn't a hand or an eye, at least not for me either.