Jesus: “I tell you!”
Scripture reading for January 7th: Matthew 5
Many focus on the Beatitudes as a wonderful statement of kingdom life and blessings. But Jesus spoke at length about many other common beliefs held among the people. He reminded the people with “you have heard it said:” and then countered the common sayings with God’s perspective. These truths ran counter to the current religious teaching of the day. They also challenge us today in that the religious world still holds some of the same perspectives.
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” (Matthew 5:21-22a) Jesus took one of the Ten Commandments and showed that under kingdom rules, anger with another also was capable of bringing judgment. Murder starts in the heart with feelings of anger and disparaging comments like “You fool!”! God looks at the heart, not just the actions!
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body that for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-29) Jesus took another of the commandments and showed that adultery also started in the heart. God doesn’t just look at the acts in the kingdom He rules, he looks at the heart. Breaking this command is serious business! Better to lose an eye than to go to hell! Maybe it’s time to listen to Jesus!