Matthew 5:21-37. But
I tell you!!!! 12/2/17
21 “You have heard that it was said to the
people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject
to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a
brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a
brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says,
‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at
the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against
you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go
and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary
who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or
your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over
to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I
tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall
not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks
at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If
your right eye causes you to stumble, 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 right hand causes you to
stumble, 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 go into hell.
31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his
wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you
that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the
victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to
the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfil to the Lord the vows
you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all:
either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth,
for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.
36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one
hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or
‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Don’t tell me what I have to do! I’ll do it my way! So what if I bend
the rules or ignore them altogether? Yes, we don’t like being told what to do.
We don’t like following orders. At the very least we don’t want those rules to
be too stringent. Keep it all very ‘low key’ please.
So here today Jesus is addressing an issue that we don’t want to hear.
As he continues his Sermon on the Mount he lays it on the line for us all. There
is no ‘beating around the bush’ here. There is no going soft so as not to
offend anyone; especially the self-righteous religious people. Strong stuff;
that we must listen to and heed, or we are in big trouble.
Here again remember this is not me saying this. This is Jesus Christ
himself speaking. So if it is God speaking, then we had best sit up and listen.
Here he gives us no room to sit back, like the people of Jesus day, and say; I
have not murdered anyone so I am okay. Or I have not slept with another person;
or any of these other commandments. So all is well.
says: But I tell you ….. and he pushes each of those commands to the extreme. With him there
is no ‘wriggle room’ so we can bend these rules to suit ourselves; so that we
can lessen our guilt; so that we cannot take Jesus very seriously. He is making
it very clear as to what God has in mind for you and me.
So at a time when so much of what we do as Christians has been watered
down, ignored and changed to suit our current whims, we have a message that
must not be ignored. It is time for us to take God and what he says seriously
once more. His continual, But I tell you..
surely means that if we are not careful we facing God’s disapproval and
Sure God loves us, deeply, and has done everything necessary for us to be
made acceptable to God once more. But that love does not mean that we are free
to turn our backs on him and what he has to say, so that we can live and do as
Instead he has given us these commands because he loves us. He knows
what is best for us, and because he has our welfare and good in mind, he gives
us these commands. He tells us, all
these things, quite strongly, because he wants all to be well for us. He
doesn’t want us to hurt or harm ourselves and others.
We might think that abortion, or anger, or calling someone a fool, or
sex outside of marriage, or divorce, or homosexuality, or women pastors, and
more, are okay, or even a good thing. God however tells us what he knows is
good and right. Here he calls for total obedience to his Word.
You would have noted and perhaps even been shocked at the fact that
Jesus calls anger towards our fellow
human being equal to murder; and
looking lustfully at another person equal to adultery. To call someone a fool
is to be in danger of going to hell.
Now if you haven’t got the picture yet; left to our own devices we are
in serious trouble. Every one of us has fallen way short of what God expects of
us. Every one of us. We all deserve God’s anger and judgement of hell.
Interestingly this judgement is not just there in the future, but also
here and now. Just think of the serious troubles and hardship we have brought
on ourselves here in this life by ignoring these commands of God. Adultery,
divorce, and abortion alone has brought untold misery on our society. In every
other area where God’s commands are ignored we can see the same results over
and over again. And the further we go down the track of doing as we please, we
can see it getting worse and worse.
This brings us to Jesus’ whole point in this Sermon on the Mount. There
is no hope and no future for us if we try to do life on our own apart from God.
We will continually struggle and be frustrated if we think that we can ignore what
he has to say, or to twist it to make life easier for ourselves. Or if we
self-righteously think we can do a pretty good at keeping them and thereby be
acceptable to God. When we look to ourselves and what we think we are in big
So we need to take Jesus Christ and both his Law and Gospel seriously if
we are to receive and be a part of the kingdom of God. He and what he says is
to be of first importance in our lives. Interestingly, the other day, I heard
the statistic from America, that only 15% of the population believed that the
Christian faith was their highest priority. Only 15%! Now in Australia I would
think they we would not even be close to that. Is it then any wonder that life
is fast falling apart for us in the western world.
Surely we here would want Jesus and what he says to be of first
importance for us. After all he is Lord God Almighty himself. He alone is our,
Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. He alone is where we can find true life,
instead of the rubbish that we are trying to convince ourselves is life.
In this regard, remember that inbuilt into every one of us, there is
this knowledge that God is for real and that we are ultimately answerable to
him. We all know, even if so many are trying their damnest to deny and reject
this realty. He is for real and he is to be taken seriously; very seriously. To
do otherwise is to put our salvation and eternal life in jeopardy.
At the same time remember that this God loves us dearly, despite our
waywardness. He wants what is best for us and that which will enable us to live
at peace with himself and one another for all eternity. In fact, he has done
everything necessary for us to be forgiven and accepted back into God’s family.
But at the same time he is a holy and
just God; and if we choose to reject him and what he says to us, then he also
tells us that he will have to reject us. So judgement
and hell are also realities when it
comes to God dealing with his wayward creation.
Since we can’t live up to God’s
expectations, and the reality of judgement is there, we surely will now take
him and his love and forgiveness seriously. Because he has freely and fully
forgiven us we will turn to him and seek everything that he has made possible
for us. Since we are unable to do what is necessary for us to be acceptable,
and even to believe as we should, we will turn to him in repentance; seeking
his forgiveness and help.
Knowing he loves us and has salvation
for us, we surely now will want him to do what is necessary for us to be his
people once more. We will look to him alone and hold him up as that which is
all important for us. We will want to be where he wants us to be and do what he
wants us to do.
We will hold his Word up as the
divinely inspired, written and inerrant Word that it is. His commands we will
want to take seriously and not want to change, ignore or reject what he sees as
important. We will take him seriously when he says: But I tell you …..
We surely then will not reject his
Spirits attempts to lead us and guide us in all matters. We will recognize our
weakness and failures, and so let him and the Word, the Bible, which he works
with, to be our source for all things good and worthwhile.
To conclude, let us then in light of
what Jesus says here when he says: But I
tell you …..; seek to go from here seeking with his help to take him seriously. As
we are living in a godless, self-centred, society, and a church culture that
has moved away from taking God seriously, let us be ever careful.
Remember always, that he is all important and what he says needs to be
taken seriously. To him then be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.
Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish