Week 43 | Section 54e
God is love, God accepts us as we are, God’s grace is sufficient to blot out all our sins, and yet in the third section of the “sermon on the mount” Jesus raises the bar on righteousness and gets to the heart of the matter – our attitude and intention. The roots of sin are of equal concern as the actions which they produce and of greater importance still is the signs of grace and truth at work in and through us.
21 “You have heard that it was said1¯2 to the ancient ones, ‘You shall not murder;’3 and ‘Whoever shall murder shall be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I tell you, that everyone who is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment; and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca!’4 shall be in danger of the council; and whoever shall say, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of the fire of Gehenna.5¯6 23 “If therefore you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly,7 while you are with him in the way; lest perhaps the prosecutor deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be cast into prison. 26 Most certainly I tell you, you shall by no means get out of there, until you have paid the last penny. 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery;’8 28 but I tell you that everyone who gazes at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.9 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna. 30 If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off, and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna.10 31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorce,’ 32 but I tell you that whoever puts away his wife, except for the cause of sexual immorality, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries her when she is put away commits adultery. 33 “Again you have heard that it was said to them of old time, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall perform to the Lord your vows,’11 34 but I tell you, don’t swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God; 35 nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Neither shall you swear by your head, for you can’t make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No.’ Whatever is more than these is of the evil one. 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’12 39 But I tell you, don’t resist him who is evil; but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 If anyone sues you to take away your coat, let him have your cloak also. 41 Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and don’t turn away him who desires to borrow from you.
48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
27 “But I tell you who hear: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you. 29 To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer also the other; and from him who takes away your cloak, don’t withhold your coat also. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and don’t ask him who takes away your goods to give them back again.
32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive back as much. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back; and your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind toward the unthankful and evil.13 36 “Therefore be merciful, even as your Father is also merciful.
- Why does Jesus demand a righteousness exceeding that of the scribes and the Pharisees. What is the difference he desires?
- Which of the themes is most challenging for you?
- Why do people camouflage their sinfulness? How might acceptance of grace change this pattern in a person? (Acts 10:43) Why should grace change how we treat one another?
- What virtues does your culture value most? What perception undermines its birth, growth, and fortitude?
- Are faithfulness, forgiveness, purity, integrity, and love evident in your life?
- What is your motivation for how you live? How does the Gospel and the finished work of Christ affect your thoughts, attitudes, behaviors, and relationships?
Learning Objectives: cleave to the righteousness of Christ and His finished work on the cross, be renewing your mind, abandon all forms of sin, hell, justification, integrity, holiness, forgiveness, sanctification, character. mercy, love.
Image: The bleeding heart (dicentra spectabilis), they are a lovely flower. Here are a few gardening tips. Its a perfect image conveying the importance of the attitude and condition of our heart, not just the appearance of our outward actions and words from our lips.
- Make no mistake about it Jesus is asserting his authority as greater than Moses in this teaching through which he instructs the newly appointed apostles some of the standards and the fulfillment of the mosaic law to which he calls them and us. Lego (I tell you) and ego (I am) are strong emphatic authoritative words in the Greek. Matthew presents Jesus’ teaching that our righteousness should exceed that of the pharisees (Matthew 23:25-28) and be evident in our… attitudes (5:21-48); desires (6:1-18); ambitions (6:19-34); and relationships (7:1-12). Paul echos this when he says take every thought captive (2Cor 10:1-6)… and put on the righteousness of Christ (Rom 10:4; Rom 13:14; Gal 3:24,27; Rom 3:22).
- While there are by the count of most 613 laws in the Old Testament to govern Jewish behavior, there was a rabbinical teaching that emerged by the disciples of Hillel – The Golden Rule. One such presentation of the lesson goes like this: “It happened again that a certain student came before Shammai and said to him: ‘I will become a proselyte providing you teach me the whole Torah while I’m standing on one foot.’ At that moment Shammai knocked him down with the builder’s rule in his hand. The young man then came before Hillel, who made him a proselyte. He told him: –‘What is hateful to you do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary. Go, learn it!'” – Babylonian Talmud, Shabbath 31a
- Deut 5:17; Num 35:30-34
- The tongue is fierce and reckless weapon (Jms 3:6) often revealing the thoughts (1Jn 2:9; 1Jn 4:20-21; Eph 4:26-27) that lie within as much as it is capable of throwing stones.
- Hebrew teachers taught that there was “the place of spiritual perfection” (Gan Eden) for the righteous; “a place of purification” (Gehinnom, Gehenna) for the unrighteous; and “a place for punishment” (She’ol) for the “utterly wicked”. Read more in Study note #1 in Week 56.
- A model for Restorative Justice is active throughout New Zealand and South Africa. It offers disciples a framework by which we can reshape our mindsets concerning healthy relationships, justice, forgiveness, restoration, and world peace. Read also 1Pt 2:23; 1Pt 3:9; Eph 4:31-32; Rom 12:10.
- Read: Jms 3:13-18; Jms 5:15; 1Cor 6:7-8; 1Cor 11:28.
- Ref Dt 5:18; Ex 20:14; Dt 22:22-24
- Read also: Jms 1:14-15
- Read also: Rom 6:6; Rom 8:13; Col 3:5; Gal 5:24; 1Cor 9:27
- Jesus is referring to the practice of confirming the truthfulness of a statement (Lev. 19:12; Num. 30:2; Ex. 20:7). In Jesus time, it had become a way to give an appearance of sincerity and truthfulness. In fact, if one would swear “by heaven” or “by Jerusalem” it was not binding. God confirmed His promise to Abraham (Gen. 22:16-17, Heb. 6:13-18), David swore to Jonathan and to God (1 Sam. 20:10, Ps. 132:2), and Paul swore to the Romans (Rom. 1:9, 9:1), yet honored is the man or woman who need not swear because their integrity and past patterns of human interaction insures the other that they are telling the truth.
- The code of Hammurabi (c. 1780 B.C.). was established to keep two parties from escalating offenses to intractable conflicts and war. Romans 2:13-16 says that the ancient law has been written upon the hearts of all men as the way of wisdom.
- Though we are plagued by problems, hang-ups, and deep-seated habits, we can be set free. The finished work of Jesus breaks every bond of Satan and God’s grace gives us unmerited access to this delight. Many confess sins and such but fall right back into bondage because they did not bring captive every thought under the Lordship of Jesus Christ in accord with his teaching and will for our lives. Let us learn to take Jesus at His Word, live free from these things that oppress us, hinder us, and destroy our relationships.