About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Section - Chapter 5
verse 1 and 2 we see that crowds of people came to see Jesus.
Notice the word is “crowds” not just a crowd.
Jesus departed from this crowd and went up onto a mountain side to
teach His disciples. Here we
see the distinction between the “crowds” and “the disciples”.
We should also note that “the disciples” means more than the
Twelve. Jesus had a
great number of disciples or followers at this point.
things that Jesus teaches here have been called the Beatitudes, meaning,
these are the attitudes that are seen in the followers of Jesus.
Some view these statements as “if you are like this, then you
will receive that”. For
example, “if you are poor in spirit, then the
thing to note here is the word “blessed”.
Many modern translators use the word “happy” instead of
“blessed” which gives a wrong impression to Jesus’ words.
Our word “happy” actually evolved from “hap” and
“chance”, meaning “good luck”.
Therefore our modern thinking on being happy is based on chance,
luck or our circumstances, but this is not even close to what Jesus was
thinking of or what the Greek word “makarioi” means.
word “blessed” means more of an inward settledness and peace from
doing what is right, whether the circumstance you find yourself in is
positive or negative.
first Beatitude is found in verse 3. It
says, “blessed is the poor in spirit, for theirs is the
Greek word that is translated “poor” here means totally destitute.
The same word is used concerning beggars elsewhere in the New
Testament. The picture this
word portrays is a destitute beggar crawling on the ground searching for
any scrap of food, much like a dog.
word “poor” is connected to the word “spirit” so it is clear that
Jesus is not thinking in terms of poor in material wealth here.
The poorness that He is thinking of is spiritual poverty.
This should be one mark of a true Christian.
The Bible teaches that without Jesus we are totally destitute of
any goodness. This is the
foundation to Paul’s teaching on salvation that he sets forth in his
book to the Romans. In
theological terms, this is called “Total Depravity”.
the Christian realizes his total depravity he then understand that all of
all fail to one degree or other to really recognize how spiritually poor
we really are. Some don’t recognize this at all. To the degree in which
we understand our poverty will be the degree in which we can tap into our
spiritual wealth that is found in the
4 says, “blessed are they that mourn for they will be comforted”.
The Greek word translated as “mourn” here should be understood
in terms of people “mourning with anguish over the death of a loved
one”. The mourning
talked about here is not being sad over a disappointment.
It’s a much more intense word.
Jesus Himself had great times of mourning.
One such example is when He wept over
true Christian will have times of mourning.
They will have anguish over lost loved-ones and situations that
need divine intervention. Something
that is missing in many Evangelical circles today is the corporate times
of prayer where people anguish over these situations.
This used to be common place years ago.
We’ve substituted it with praise and worship, and there’s
nothing wrong with praise and worship, but we shouldn’t have forsaken
“praying through” as it was once called.
in our times of mourning, there is comfort. We are not left in this
misery, and misery it is, as seen in the Greek.
Jesus meets with us in our mourning and brings comfort.
Comfort is merely the sense that we’re not going through the
misery alone. Comfort is not a
matter of removing of the anguish or mourning.
It’s meeting with Jesus in these times.
5 says, “blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth”.
Meek doesn’t mean weak. Meek
means “a refusal to seek revenge”.
One who is meek can take being mistreated without having to get
back. Yet when saying this,
there is a place to seek justice, but the justice we seek for a
wrong-doing done against us is not done out of revenge.
Meekness is not always having to be right.
Meekness is not always having to be in control and making sure
others are under our control.
was meek but also spoke authoritatively.
Really, if you want people to hear what you say, they’ll hear it
easier from a meek person rather than
an arrogant person.
is a Christian virtue, and we know from the book of Revelation that the
“meek will indeed inherit the earth” in the end.
The New Earth as seen in the book of Revelation is where we will
some day live and rule with our Lord.
6 says, “blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for
they will be filled”. First
of all we should address what righteousness means.
There are two aspects to righteousness in the New Testament.
One is Positional Righteousness.
This means that once we’ve given our lives to Jesus God views us
as being totally righteous in all we do, even as He Himself is righteous.
Jesus paid for this free gift that has been given to the believer. We
stand before God as one who always does right, always has done right, and
always will do right. “Doing
right” is what righteousness means.
This is a pretty significant truth we all need to know.
Positional Righteousness there is “Practical Righteousness”.
God views us as always doing right, but in reality we don’t
always do what is right. Practical
Righteousness means that we begin to do right in the things we do.
If we have really given our lives to Jesus, we will begin to do
things right, that is, right by Jesus’ standards of rightness.
If there is no progress in doing things right, then as James says,
you might not have true faith - you might not have given your life to
attribute of being a Christian is “hungering and thirsting” after
doing things the right way. It’s
not a mild desire to do right, it’s a real hungering and thirsting.
It’s like a starving child in
this truly is our heart’s desire then Jesus says that we will be filled.
Obviously He’s not talking about food here.
He’s still talking about doing right.
If that is our heart’s desire, then He will help do right and it
will surely be seen in our lives.
7 says, “blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy”.
The world needs a lot more people to show mercy.
We tend to show other things instead of mercy.
Mercy simply means that we give to others even though they don’t
deserve it, and that’s hard to do at times. Our tendency is to react
when people aren’t so merciful to us in such a way that we treat them
poorly. But Jesus tells us
here that the mark of a true Christian is one who shows mercy.
You certainly see that in the life of Jesus in relation to His
close followers. Yes, He did
get frustrated with them many times, yet He showed great mercy towards
might say that this beatitude is a natural law.
If you show mercy to others, there’s a good chance they will show
mercy to you, and this is what Jesus says here.
It’s not always the case, but there’s a better chance of others
being kind to you if you are kind to them. Yet even if they aren’t kind
in return, you are still to be kind to them.
8 says, “blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God”.
We often ask, “why don’t we see God move”?
Or, “why don’t we hear from God”?
This verse states part of the answer.
We need to be pure in our hearts.
Notice where this purity is to be.
It’s not in our outward actions but in our hearts.
We can be pure in our outwards actions, but being pure in our
hearts is a different matter altogether.
Other’s can’t see inside our hearts, but Jesus can.
This is the intent of the New Testament, that is, Jesus wants to
get to your heart. He wants to get to the heart of the matter.
Outwards activity is important, but inward activity is even more
important. When we change from
within our outward actions will change and we’ll do good from a pure
we are pure in heart, we will see God. We’ll see Him right now. Yes,
we’ll see Him in the future, but we’ll see Him now if our hearts are
pure. This is vital for our
daily walk with Jesus.
9 says, “blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the sons of
God”. Jesus is the ultimate peacemaker.
Paul says that Jesus has broken down the wall of partition between
the Jew and the Gentile. Jesus’
death on the cross brought us peace with God. Jesus brings peace into our
hearts when we give our lives to Him.
Yet, this being said, He
also brings some separation. That
is, we often enter into conflict because of our relationship with Him.
Even Jesus told us that family members would forsake us because of
our association with Him. Yet
in the midst of this trouble, we can find peace in Jesus.
peace that Jesus paid the price for on the cross makes us sons of God.
The theological term for this peace is “reconciliation”.
We have been reconciled to God.
We are now on His side. We
are God’s friends. We are no
longer enemies of God. We are
at peace with Him and we are His sons.
10 says, “blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the
for those who are being persecuted, the whole of the
the last few verses we’ve read eight Beatitudes.
Some people think there are actually nine Beatitudes because of
verse 11. This verse starts
off with the word “blessed” as well, but there is a difference between
verse 11 and the prior verses. Notice
the other “blessed verses” read, “blessed are they…”.
Verse 11 reads “blessed are you…”
The prior eight Beatitudes apply to all Christians, but in verse 11
Jesus is directing these words to the specific disciples who were
listening to Him right then.
tells those sitting in front of Him that they are blessed when men insult,
persecute and speak falsely against them because of me.
This is just as prophetic as it is a teaching.
For all these things came true in these peoples lives.
verse 12 Jesus told His followers that when they get persecute they should
“rejoice and be glad”. Amazingly
enough that is what they did. Peter, when he was killed for Jesus thought
it was a real privilege to die for His Lord, and that’s how all the
early Christians felt.
the last half of verse 12 Jesus says that they persecuted the prophets of
old in the same way as His followers will be persecuted.
By saying this, Jesus was elevating these disciples to the same
level as the Jewish prophets of the Old Testament, men who these people
would have highly esteemed. To
be placed on the same level of respect as the prophets must have been an
amazing things for those people to hear.
And it’s important to us as well.
We know that what is written in the New Testament, by the New
Testament writers are just as important and inspired as the things that
were written in the Old Testament.
last section concerned the great blessings we would have if we do the
things Jesus wants us to do. In
this section we turn to our responsibility
to live righteously as a Jesus’ disciple.
verse 13 Jesus says that “you are the salt of the earth”.
The word “you” refers to Jesus’ disciples.
The Greek wording here means, “you and only you are the salt of
the earth”. This means
that only Christians are the salt of the earth.
Non Christians are not salt.
question is, “what does Jesus mean when He uses the word salt”?
Thee are two major applications of salt. One is to preserve and the
other to flavour.
when living rightly are salt. We
preserve the world from total destruction of sin.
We hold back sin. The
problem today is that we are losing our saltiness in some respects and
Christian influence is not as strong as it once was and we’re reaping
adds flavour. We have what it
takes to add flavour to people’s lives, to make their lives more
meaningful. We and only we are
the seasoning for our society.
continues to say that if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it get
salty again? If you take this
analogy seriously, you have to say that once salt is no longer salty, it
can’t be salty again. Jesus says three things about salt that is no
longer salty. They are, the salt is good for nothing, will be thrown out,
and will be trampled on by men.
Christians are the salt of the earth and if we lose our saltiness then we
are good for nothing. God will
throw us out because we are no longer effective.
I’m not sure this means we lose our salvation but simply lose our
place and responsibility in His Kingdom.
After that we will be trampled on by men.
How many times have you seen Christians, or churches who have lost
their saltiness. The world
tramples on them. They make
fun of them and criticize them. This
has been seen when TV evangelists fall and the world gets a big laugh over
it. The Catholic church’s
sex scandals have caused scoffing among skeptics of the world.
not only the salt of the earth, but the light of the world.
Jesus continues to say that a city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Christians who are living rightly are like a city on a hill.
The city and the Christian can’t be hidden.
It’s not possible. If
the world cannot see your Christian
light, it means you’re light went out, or maybe you didn’t have the
light in the first place.
verse 15 Jesus says that people don’t light a candle and put it under a
bowl. In modern terms, we
don’t turn on a light then throw a blanket over the lamp.
You turn a light on to lighten up a room.
We have the light of the Holy Spirit within us.
The Holy Spirit was not given to us to hide Him.
He has been given to us to shine out to the world.
We have a responsibility to witness for Jesus, to live the life of
righteousness before the world.
verse 16 Jesus says that in the same way that a lamp lights a room so our
lives should shine by the good things we do so that people will glorify
God. It’s our job to do good works.
We simply need to understand that these good works must come from
and be helped by the Holy Spirit. Paul
calls these things the “fruit of the Spirit”.
When we exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, people will see Jesus in
us and glorify God. Yet if we exhibit fruits of the flesh as the Pharisees
did, they won’t see Jesus. They
will see us and glorify us. We
can do good works apart from Jesus. We
do them in our own human effort. These
are not the kind of good works that Jesus is talking about here.
verse 17 Jesus says that He “has not come to abolish the Law and the
Prophets”. This is a
very important statement to understand.
It will effect how you view all of the Old Testament, and will have
a drastic outcome on how you live your life as a New Testament Christian.
So we need to understand Jesus’ words properly.
of all we need to note that Jesus mentions both “the Law and the
Prophets”. He’s not just
talking about the Law of Moses. I
can quite well imagine that the Jewish leaders were thinking that Jesus
was trashing, or throwing out all that had been written in the Old
Testament, but this wasn’t so, and Jesus tells them so.
Jesus wasn’t abolishing the Law and Prophets, then what was He doing
when some things that He said seem to imply that He was?
The answer if simple. He
fulfilled the Law and the Prophets. All
that was written in both the Law and the Prophets spoke about Jesus.
One thing to note here is that the Law was more than a book of
rules. It was just as
prophetic as the books of prophecy. The
Law of Moses prophesied every aspect of who Jesus was, what He did on
earth, and what He does in Heaven.
the Law was fulfilled, then the purpose of the Law changes.
Jesus fulfilled most of the Law while on earth and while on the
cross. There’s still a
little yet to be fulfilled in His return to earth. This means that any
part of the Law that deals with sin, with atonement for sin and with
salvation has now been fulfilled and is no longer in effect.
This is what Paul says in Rom. 10:4 when he says that “Christ is
the end of the Law”.
Christ is the end of the Law, the Law has no more purpose for salvation.
It has a purpose. Paul
calls it a school master, something that points out our sin.
But that’s all it does. It
doesn’t save us from our sin.
simple fact is that Jesus did not destroy the Law.
He fulfilled it, and He lived it for us.
Yes, I do believe that He obeyed the Law on our behalf before God.
result of all this is that we as New Testament Christians are not under
the demands of any part of the Law of Moses.
As a matter of fact, Gentiles were never under the Law in the first
place. So why would Gentile Christians be under the Law?
This was the early churches main problem.
The Judaizers taught that one had to become a Jew and obey the Law
in order to be a real Christian. Paul
called this “another gospel”.
verse 18 Jesus re-affirms that not one small letter from the Law will pass
away until Heaven and earth passes away, and we know that Heaven and earth
will pass away to be re-created into the new Heaven and earth.
At that time the Law will completely disappear and have absolutely
no meaning. The reason for
this is because there are still some prophetic aspects to the Law that
won’t be fulfilled until that day comes.
that I’ve said about the Law also applies to the Prophets.
They were prophetic. They
won’t pass away either until that day comes when every last detail of
prophecy is fulfilled.
verse 19 Jesus says that anyone who breaks even one of the smallest and
least important laws or teaches others to do so will be the least in the
implication, Jesus was saying the Jews who claimed to be someone were just
the opposite because they did not obey the Law and taught others to follow
them in their disobedience. Many
of the Rabbinical laws were only put in place to avoid obeying the Law of
in verse 19 is the reverse. If
one obeys the Law and teaches others to do the same, they’d be great in
20 is important. Jesus says
that “unless your righteousness surpasses the righteousness of the
Pharisees and teachers of the Law you will not enter the
are two aspects to righteousness that is found in the New Testament.
One aspects is that for the truly born again Christian, God sees
him as righteous. Because
Jesus fulfilled the Law for us, because He lived the righteous life for
us, because He died on the cross for us, God views us as being totally
righteous, even as He is righteous. This
is the free gift of salvation.
other aspect to righteousness found in the New Testament is that God
through His Holy Spirit will work in us to act righteously.
How God views us should begin to be worked out in reality as we
allow the Holy Spirit to work righteousness from our hearts into our
outward activity. This is true
righteousness and this righteousness will surpass that of the Pharisees
and teachers of the Law.
has just spoken about the Law and the Prophets and His association with
them. He Himself was the
fulfillment of the whole of the Old Testament.
Now in this section Jesus is going to talk about one part of the
Law, and that is the Ten Commandments.
But He’s not talking about all of the commands, just one, and
that concerns murder. What
Jesus will in fact do in this section is redefine the Ten Commandments
into New Testament terms. Another
way to put this might be to say that Jesus is giving the new version of
the Commandments as seen in the New Covenant.
points out the command that said, “do not murder”, and if you do you
will be “subject to judgment”. This
command was simple. If you
murder someone, you’ll suffer due judgment.
look at verse 22. Jesus
continues by saying that if anyone is angry with his brother he will be
subject to judgment. What Jesus says here is very important in our
understanding of how He viewed the Ten Commandments, and how we should
subsequently view them as well.
propose that what Jesus is really doing here
is He is “redefining the Ten Commandments into New Testament
terms”. By this I mean that
Jesus said the Old Testament Law said one thing, but I’m saying another
thing, and since I’m replacing them, you should listen to me.
what was Jesus saying about murder here?
The Old Testament Law said, “don’t murder”.
Jesus said, “don’t get angry”.
Do you see the difference here?
Murder is an outward or external action. Anger is internal.
It’s a matter of the heart. The
intent of the whole of the New Testament is to get to the core of every
issue, and the core of any human issue are “matters of the heart”.
Of course Jesus wasn’t throwing away this command.
He certainly wasn’t suggesting that murder was now okay.
But what He was doing was redefining this command into New
Testament terms. It’s still
wrong to murder, but now it’s wrong to be angry at your brother, and I
see the word brother referring to any other human being, not just a family
was speaking to the heart of the matter when it comes to murder, and
that’s anger. If you can
control your anger, that is a matter of the heart, you won’t murder
anyone. Yet even though you may not murder anyone, you can still be angry
at someone, which is a sin in itself.
Jesus wants to address the inner problem of anger, something the
Old Testament did not really address.
if anyone boasts over the fact that they keep the commandments, murder as
one example, they shouldn’t boast, because they’ve probably been
angry. This anger is really
breaking the intent of the command not to murder.
need to comment on the word “angry” at this point.
There is such a thing as righteous anger.
Being angry at sin is not wrong.
God Himself is very angry at sin and at the end of this age
everyone will see a great demonstration of His anger.
verse 22 Jesus said that if anyone says “raca” to his brother is
answerable to the Sanhedrin. The
Sanhedrin is the ruling Jewish authorities consisting of priests,
Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers and teachers of the Law.
The word “raca” is probably an Aramaic word meaning to
criticize one’s thinking process. It’s
putting someone’s ideas down. It’s
a derogatory term. Well, if
someone did this to another, and if they were caught, it was an offense
answerable to the Jewish authorities.
Jesus goes on to say that if you call someone “a fool”, you’re in
danger of the fire of hell. The
fire of hell refers to the
you see what Jesus is saying here? He’s
going way beyond the language of the Law.
Murder isn’t the only issue here.
Being angry without cause is the issue.
Calling people nasty names is the issue, but this is something that
many Christians don’t take as serious as Jesus does.
How many times have you heard a Christian call someone a “jerk”
for cutting them off while driving down a road.
This is a serious sin in the mind of Jesus.
This is major redefining of the command not to murder.
23 and 24 speak of offering gifts at the altar when a brother has
something against you. Jesus
says, leave your gift, that is, don’t worry about giving me the gift.
Worry about getting right with your brother.
He says go and get reconciled to your brother.
is more interested in our relationship with Him and to our fellow brother
in Christ than He is with our things and what we have to give Him.
This is really what the book of Malachi is all about.
We often stress tithing for example from Mal. 3:8.
We say we are robbing God because we don’t tithe. Yet in context,
the book of Malachi is more about robbing God of ourselves than robbing
Him of money. The book of
Malachi is more about His people divorcing Him than it is about getting
sacrifices from His people. It’s
the same here. Jesus cares
less about the gift and more about the relationships with others.
Relationships are matters
of the heart.
verse 25 Jesus speaks to the issue of having problems with your brother,
yet He doesn’t use the word brother but “adversary” instead.
So if the adversary is a brother or not Jesus has something to say
about him. He tells those
listening to try to solve the problem between you and your adversary
before he takes you to court. Jesus
knows that court is an adversarial situation.
Court proceedings are all about destroying the other person in
order for you to win the case. It’s
better for all of us to settle things out of court.
This is what Jesus is saying here.
This is especially true in divorce hearings today.
goes on to say that if you don’t settle the dispute between you and your
adversary before you get to court, you may end up in jail.
This might well suggest that your adversary has real grounds for
taking you to court, and if this is the case, you need to make things
right. This might well be why
Jesus said to leave your gift at the altar and get this problem cleared
up. Offering something to God
while at the same time wronging another person isn’t right in the eyes
of God. At this point your
gift to God is meaningless to Him because He is more interested in human
relationships than material gifts from us.
verse 26 Jesus states that you won’t get out of jail until you have paid
the whole price. Once again this suggests to me that the one offering the
gift to God is in the wrong.
now continues His re-defining of the Ten Commandments.
In the last section He was talking about murder.
In this section He is talking about adultery.
So in verse 27 Jesus says, “you have heard that it was said,
‘do not commit adultery’.
with murder and anger in the last section, Jesus repeats the matter of the
heart in verse 28. He says
that if a man lusts after a woman, he has committed adultery with her in
his heart. Although Jesus
doesn’t say this, I’m sure this would apply also to women who lust
after a man.
Greek tense for the word “lust” means “to continue to lust”,
suggesting an ongoing lusting. This
lusting is with “a woman”. Some
suggest because Jesus says, “a woman”, and not “women” (plural)
He’s talking about a particular woman a man may have his eyes on.
again Jesus is getting to the heart of the matter.
Every outward sin has an inward sin.
This is how He is re-defining the Ten Commandments for New
Testament Christians. He has
raised the bar so to speak. It’s
no longer a matter of outward
sins, but a matter of inwards sins.
verse 29 Jesus is using strong language.
He says that if your right eye offend you, then cut it out, because
it’s better to be saved with one eye than to burn in hell with two eyes.
I don’t think anyone thinks that Jesus wants us to cut an eye out
if we’re looking at things we shouldn’t be looking at.
The point is that Jesus is very serious here about these inner
sins. We should be
serious as well.
Jewish people in these days this technique of speech that Jesus uses here,
that is exaggeration, was common. When
someone wanted to make a point really clear, they’d often exaggerate the
point. Many wonder if Jesus
really was encouraging men to cut out their eyes or cut off there hands,
but He wasn’t.
one of the church Father’s cut off his penis to solve his lusting
problem. He took Jesus’
words literally, but discovered afterwards that he still lusted.
His penis was not the problem.
don’t believe that any particular sin will cause you to burn in hell.
I won’t get into this now, but there are sufficient Scriptures
that tell us the only reason why one ends up burning in hell is because He
has failed to give his life to Jesus. The problem with any sin is that if
you keep going down that path of sin, it may someday lead you into
unbelief. It is the unbelief
that puts you in hell’s fire, not the particular sin.
30 is the same as verse 29, except Jesus is speaking about a hand and not
things that Jesus is speaking to here are examples.
There’s many other examples of inner sins that He could have
addressed. He could have went through each of the Ten Commandments and
commented on them.
point to be made is that we all have inner sin.
Jesus points out the serious nature of this sin.
If we have no struggle with inner sin, it is because we aren’t
sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s convicting words within
us. The only other
possibility concerning not feeling the conflict is that we have no sin,
and that isn’t the case.
31 is a quote from Duet. 24:1 where the Law allows divorce.
When a man divorces his wife he must give her a certificate of
divorce. This is not one of
the Ten Commandments, but it is a law within the Law of Moses.
By stating this law along side two of the Ten Commandments I think
Jesus is saying that the Law as a whole is just as important as the Ten
Commandments on there own, something most Christians don’t really
believe. They separate the Ten
Commandments into a different category altogether, but in reality they
were just one aspect of the Law. They
are actually found in more than one place in the Law and are not exactly
the same in each case.
are only two verses dealing with divorce here, but later in Matthew 19
Jesus will talk at length about this subject.
32 is the popular “exception clause”.
Jesus allows divorce on the grounds of
marital unfaithfulness. If
your spouse commits adultery, then you are allowed to divorce him or her
without committing adultery when you remarry.
if you divorce your spouse for any other reason, then you cause him or her
to commit adultery when he or she remarries, and the one who remarries the
divorced party commits adultery too.
point to be made here concerning continuing adultery is that the wife who
is divorce because she has committed adultery, when she remarries, she
continues to commit adultery with her new partner.
Also the new partner is committing adultery in the sense that he is
participating in her adultery. If
the original partner whose spouse committed adultery remarries, he or she
does not commit adultery when he or she remarries.
33 begins with “again you have heard that it was said to the people long
ago..”. The word “again”
means that Jesus is continuing to speak in the same
train of thought as He has been in the last couple of sections.
The “people long ago” refers to the Children of Israel in
Moses’ day when God gave
might well say that Jesus is putting the Law of Moses, the Old Covenant in
its New Testament context here. This
appears to me to be the whole purpose of Jesus’ teaching on the side of
Law that Jesus is referring to here states, “Do not break your oath, but
keep the oaths you have made to the Lord”.
Breaking oaths or braking a promise is not good in the eyes of God.
It shows a lack seriousness in trusting God.
verse 34 Jesus tells His followers to
not “swear at all”. We
need to realize that Jesus isn’t speaking of bad words here.
The context is all about swearing when making an oath. When people
make an oath, especially in those days, they made an oath and swore
according to a power greater than them.
This is why we swear on the Bible today in court. The Bible
represents a higher authority than us, and if we don’t tell the truth,
or if we fail to live according to the oath, then we’ll be subject to
that higher power.
Jesus telling us not to make oaths
He’s telling us not to use anything that is associated with Him
in the swearing process of an oath. In
verse 37 He says, just let your yes be yes and your no be no.
Let your words stand on their own merit, and live up to what you
believe the reason why Jesus says this is that he knows men and women
break their oaths, their promises, the contracts, and He does not want
anything associated with God to be a part of broken promises.
This is the message He spoke to
verse 36 Jesus says not to swear by your head because you can’t change
the colour of your hair. Well, that might have been the case back then,
but today we know we can change the colour of our hair.
Jesus wasn’t saying something wrong here.
He was saying something right according to the society in which He
was speaking in.
is telling His disciples not even to swear using one’s self as a bases
of the oath. As you can’t
change the colour of your hair, there’s a good chance you can’t live
up to your oath.
Evangelical Christians from a generation or two back took these words very
seriously If they were called
to court to testify, they would not swear on the Bible because of Jesus’
words here, and they make a good point.
verse 38 we see another “as you have heard” statements.
Jesus gives 6 examples how people in New Testament times should
understand the Old Testament Law. This
new understanding is all about the matters of the heart. God wants to get
to the core of things, and all things of importance come from our hearts.
Also sin originates in our heart, and that is why the Old Testament
teaches that the heart is so deceitful and desperately wicked. (Jer. 17:9)
law that Jesus speaks to here is found in Ex. 21:24, Lev. 24:20, and Deut.
19:21. It says, “an eye for
an eye, and a tooth for a tooth”. The
thinking here is that if you punch someone causing them to lose a tooth,
then you should be punished with the same severity as you caused damage to
the other person. Therefore
you should lose your tooth as well. Our
whole judicial system is based on this principle in that the penalty one
receives for a crime should be equal to the damage done in the crime.
Jesus redefines this rule. In
the past if someone robbed you, you could take him to the ruling council
and have him punished accordingly. But
Jesus is saying something different here.
He says, “do not resist and evil person”.
In verses 39 to 41 Jesus gives some examples of what He is saying.
verse 40 Jesus says that if someone wants to sue you
for your tunic, give him your cloak also.
Then in verse 41 He says that if someone forces you to go one mile,
go an extra mile with him. Then
He says not to turn someone down who wants to borrow from you
always been discussion over these words.
Is Jesus really meaning what He is saying, or is He using
exaggeration here to help us understand something as He did earlier.
The answer may be somewhat debatable.
thing I believe is important here is that we should balance justice with
grace. In this passage Jesus
is speaking of exhibiting grace to those who offend you.
Yet we know that God is just and He will punish those who are
unjust. We must stand on the
side of God. This means we
stand on the side of justice. There
is nothing wrong with bringing one who offends you to proper justice as
long as you are not motivated out of revenge.
God will do the revenging at the end of this age.
We don’t But until
then, we extend grace in the process of
verse 39 we have the last of the six “you have heard it said” phrases.
This time the people have heard it said that “you should love
your enemy and hate your enemy”. Most
people believe Jesus is quoting from Lev. 19:18 here.
But this reference says nothing about “hating” your enemy.
What does speak about hating your enemy is the Rabbinical Law that
the Jews added to the Law of Moses.
what Jesus is doing here is actually commenting partly on the Law of Moses
and the Rabbinical traditions, bring both into New Testament clarity.
verse 44 Jesus tells us to “love our enemies and pray for those who
persecute” us. This is what
the first generation Christians did, even when they were killed by their
enemies. Such a serious witness led many to Jesus.
verse 45 says, “so that you will be sons of your Father in Heaven”.
What I believe Jesus is saying here is that if we demonstrate the
love God has for us to others, including our enemies, then we will
properly represent Him as His sons. If
we don’t we are not being the sons of God as He wants us to be.
in verse 45 Jesus explains why we should love our enemies.
It’s because God allows the sun to shine and the rain to fall on
both good people and bad people. God’s
goodness is seen in His creation. And
this goodness is extended to all mankind, with no partiality.
His salvation is a different story.
But the goodness of creation is for all. We should imitate God in
verse 46 Jesus says that it’s no big deal to only love those who love
us. The tax collectors do
that. The tax collectors were
men who were despised because they extorted people by collecting more
taxes than what they needed. They kept back the extra for themselves.
Even these men knew how to love people who treated them well.
will be no reward in heaven for us if we only love those who love us.
This is what Jesus says here. Yet
by implication, if we love the unlovable, then there will be a reward for
us in heaven some day.
verse 47 Jesus says that if “you greet only your brothers then what are
you doing more than others”? The
point here is that we are to go out of our way to be friendly to everyone,
not just those in our family or our spiritual family.
This is in fact what God through Jesus did when extending salvation
to the Gentiles. Like the tax collectors in the last verse, pagans greet
one another. There’s nothing
too hard in that. Christians
are to go the second mile. They
are to think of others more than themselves.
Verse 48 says, “be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect”. These words present us with a natural break in the discussion here. It brings everything to an abrupt stop in the sense that everyone now has the question, “how can we possibly be perfect as God is perfect”?
Well, part of the point to the whole sermon on the mount is as follows. If you thought the Law of Moses was hard to keep, what Jesus says is harder to keep, if not impossible. That is why we need Jesus That is why we needed Him to die in our place. That is why righteousness is a free gift from God. We can’t always be perfect. We never will be. Yes, yes strive towards that end, and with Jesus help we can certainly do better than we’re now doing, but we won’t be perfect. Yet once saying that, God views us as perfect when we rely on what Jesus has done for us. In that sense of the word we are perfect.