About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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ch. 5:1-12  ch. 5:13-16  ch. 5:17-20   ch. 5:21-26   ch. 5:27-30

ch. 5:30-32   ch. 5:33-37  ch. 5:38-48

The Beatitudes (ch. 5:1 - 12)            


In 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.


The 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 Kingdom of Heaven is yours”.  Yet I’d prefer to view these Beatitudes as the characteristics of a real Christian.  This means that if you are a real Christian you will be like Jesus says here.  You will be poor in spirit.


Another 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.


The 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. 


The first Beatitude is found in verse 3.  It says, “blessed is the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven ”. 


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. 


The 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”. 


As the Christian realizes his total depravity he then understand that all of the Kingdom of Heaven is his.  His depravity is replaced with all that can be found in the Kingdom of God . Since the word “poor” is in reference to the word “spirit”, we need to carry this same thinking over to the last part of the sentence.  That which we find in the Kingdom of God is spiritual as well, not material.  You cannot use this verse to suggest that Jesus is saying that we will be rich materially if we are poor in spirit. 


We 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 Kingdom of God .  Many wonder why they aren’t more spiritually healthy.  One reason is that they don’t recognize their spiritual poverty. Our thinking that we are better than what we really are hinders the work of the Lord in our lives. 


Verse 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 Jerusalem just before His crucifixion. Of course, soon after that He anguished so much in the garden that He shed drops of blood.


The 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.


Yet 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.


Verse 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. 


Jesus 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.


Meekness 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.


Verse 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. 


Beyond 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 Jesus.     


Another 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 Africa who hasn’t eaten in days.  His whole being is taken up with the desire to eat.  This is what Jesus is saying here.  Our whole being is taking up with doing what is right in the eyes of our Lord.


If 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.


Verse 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 them.


You 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.


Verse 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 heart. 


If 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.


Verse 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.


The 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.


Verse 10 says, “blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven ”.  The righteousness spoken of here is God’s righteousness.  It’s not our own human righteousness.  It’s not human effort.  When we do things God’s way, we are being righteous and not everyone will appreciate this.  Christians to one degree or other will be persecuted, depending on how righteous they are, depending on how much of what they do is from the Lord. 


Yet for those who are being persecuted, the whole of the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. They have the authority of God behind them whether others recognize it or not.  Jesus Himself vindicates the persecuted Christian, not man. We suffer for Jesus and we should be glad that we have that opportunity 


In 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.


He 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. 


In 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.


In 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.


Salt And Light (ch. 5:13 - 17)


The 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.


In 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. 


The 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. 


Christians 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 the consequences.

Salt 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.


Jesus 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. 


If 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.


We’re 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. 


In 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. 


In 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.


The Fulfillment Of The Law (ch. 5:17-20)


In 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.


First 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.


If 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. 


Once 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”. 


If 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. 


This 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.


The 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”. 


In 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.


All 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. 


In 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 Kingdom of Heaven .  Jesus had to say this at this time.  He could not say anything else or else He’d be breaking the Law.  Jesus had to obey the Law in every last detail or else He wouldn’t be obeying it for us or fulfilling it.   It’s thus clear then that Jesus couldn’t teach others to disobey the Law of Moses.  Besides, at that particular point in history, the Law was still in effect.  These were Old Testament days, although they were very transitional.


By 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 Moses.


Also in verse 19 is the reverse.  If one obeys the Law and teaches others to do the same, they’d be great in the Kingdom of Heaven . Very few Jewish leaders in fact did this.


Verse 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 Kingdom of Heaven ”.  The righteousness of the Pharisees  and the teachers of the Law were prideful outward righteousness, which in fact is not righteousness at all.  Doing right things for the sake of being seen isn’t righteous.  Making up new laws to get around obeying God’s Law wasn’t being righteous either. 


There 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.


The 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.


Murder (ch. 5:21-26) 


Jesus 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.  


Jesus 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. 


But 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. 


I 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. 


Then 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 member.


Jesus 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.


So 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.


We 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.


In 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. 


But 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 Lake of Fire as seen in the Book of Revelation.  The word fool is a stronger word than raca in the sense that it is not merely speaking to one’s intellectual capabilities. It’s referring to the person as a whole, not just one part of the person.  The whole person is stupid.  The whole person is a fool.   Or in modern terms, you might say it this way.  “You’re a jerk”.  Such languages gets you in danger of eternal fire.


Do 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.


Verses 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. 


God 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.   


In 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.


Jesus 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.


In 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. 


Adultery (ch. 5:27 - 32)    


Jesus 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’. 


As 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. 


The 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.      


Once 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.


In 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.


Among 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.


Oregin, 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.    


I 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.


Verse 30 is the same as verse 29, except Jesus is speaking about a hand and not an eye.


The 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.

One 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. 


Divorce (ch. 5:31 - 32)


Verse 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. 


There are only two verses dealing with divorce here, but later in Matthew 19 Jesus will talk at length about this subject. 


Verse 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. 


Yet 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.   


The 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.  


Oaths (ch. 5:33 - 37)


Verse 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 Israel the Law.


One 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 this hill. 


The 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. 


In 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.


Is Jesus telling us not to make  oaths here.  No.  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 promise.  


I 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 Israel through the prophet Malachi.  Israel had divorced their God.  They broke covenant.  They through away their trust.


In 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.


Jesus 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.


Many 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.


An Eye For An Eye (ch. 5:38 - 48)


In 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)        


The 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.


But 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. 


In 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 


There’s 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. 


One 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  being just.     


Love For Enemies (ch. 5:43-49)  


In 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.


So what Jesus is doing here is actually commenting partly on the Law of Moses and the Rabbinical traditions, bring both into New Testament clarity.


In 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. 


In 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. 


Also 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 this respect.


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.


There 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.


In 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.

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