January 17, 2011
Matthew 5: 17-48 NLT
I am working on my sermon for Sunday morning and I was drawn to this text in Matthew, wow Jesus is a Radical with a capital R.
17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. 19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
20 “But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!
Jesus is addressing a group of people and trying to get across to them the GRACE of God. As a matter of fact Jesus spends the better part of the Gospels trying to get across the message of GRACE. But still in this world there are those who will not accept forgiveness. They choose to wallow in their GUILT. They say something like this, “I am just a bad person, God would never forgive and use a person like me.” Nothing could be farther from the truth, Jesus offers forgiveness, so buck it up and accept the forgiveness Jesus offers and start walking as the Light that He has made you. Stop making excuses!
Then there are those who have accepted the forgiveness but they want to hold everyone else captive and Jesus says, no siree buddy, you have to pass on what you have received because if you don’t forgive others, God will not forgive you! SO there…
In verse 20, Jesus says unless your righteousness surpasses that of the teachers and Pharisees, He is saying they do pretty good, you could pattern your life after what they teach and often follow but Jesus point is, you can’t be good enough to get to Heaven on your own. How do we know this? I am glad you asked, keep reading.
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.
Yes Jesus said it, if you are angry with someone, you are guilty of murder. Listen, I know, if I had written the Bible, I would have written it different but I didn’t write it and I don’t even get to edit it, duh…
I know you, I know you are saying, “Jesus can say what He wants to, just because I am angry at Bob, doesn’t mean I am guilty of murder.
Hey now, I have called a few people an idiot and cursed them (damned them) but I’m not going to hell because of that.
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.
I think I would drop the facade and go make it right.
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.
Hey, I don’t care what Jesus says, I’ve never committed adultery. Just because I look at porn doesn’t mean I am guilty as if I had actually had sex with that person. Just because I day-dream about someone other than my husband or my wife, that is not the same as actually having sex.
Hey, remember if I had written this it would be different. But you know the rap, I didn’t get to write it, God didn’t even ask my opinion. What is up with that???
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.
Now, I know what some of you are saying, I’m not guilty of divorce, I’m still married to the same person I married 30 years ago. Problem is, many people think divorce is a piece of paper. A divorce means to cancel the legal duties and responsibilities of a marriage. A lot of people and some reading this have been divorced for years and they just never got the piece of paper. They are just wearing a mask so that people won’t judge them as BAD people. Who do you think you are kidding, God knows your heart and God knows your marriage. By the way, you’re not fooling anybody else either.
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.
Be careful making vows!
Teaching about Revenge
38 “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. 40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. 41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. 42 Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.
I love this, in 2011 it means something like this. If he made you mad, go get his firewood in for him and tell him that you love him. If she said something ugly about you, buy her lunch and share the love of Christ with her. If the boss never sees the good you do but only the bad, keep doing the good and try harder. He just took you last $20 and didn’t repay you, get over it, go see if he is in trouble and needs more.
Teaching about Love for Enemies
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
I believe this is the most RADICAL piece of all. Jesus says, if I treated you the way you treat me, you would all die and go to hell. If I judged you the way you just judged your neighbor, you would be in so much trouble. If I loved you exactly the same way that you love me, you would be really cold tonight. If I judged you based on what you deserve, there would only be three in heaven. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
You see, the truth is, God loves you and He never treats us as we deserve. No, not even when we have been good. God doesn’t reward and condemn based on the balance of the scales. God rewards and condemns based on Jesus finished work on the Cross.
Do you know Jesus? I do and He wanted you to know that what ever you have done, it can be forgiven. You just have to ask. It really is that simple. We are all guilty, no one has the right to judge, point the finger, condemn, except God.
You think about that. Come Sunday morning and let’s put our past behind us and move forward in these last days. Time is too short for anything else.