Summary: Week seven of 24 focuses on Jesus teaching about Murder, Hatred and Loving our enemies.
Matthew 5:21 Jesus Said “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’” This particular law comes from Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17. And we would think this one is a no brainer, after all one of the basic tenets of human society has to be the specialness of human life. And when we as a society lose respect for the sanctity of life then our society is on a slippery path downwards. Now sometimes we differ on what life is or isn’t. A Rabbi, Priest and a Minister got together one day to discuss the theology of when life began and the Priest said “In our tradition life begins at conception.” “Well” replied the minister “In our tradition life begins when you can hear the baby’s heart beat.” To which the Rabbi commented “In our tradition we believe life begins when the kids move out and the dog dies.” I’m probably closer to the priest in life starting at conception, but it really has been great since the kids moved out and the dog died.
And so we have a broad spectrum that we call life, but sometimes it easier to refer to the very young, as embryos and the very aged that we put into that broad definition of geriatric, therefore removing both ends of the spectrum from the term “people.”
In society we have an obligation to protect human life from the point of conception to the point of natural death, and when we take any one portion of the human life at any point on the time line and deem it to be less valuable then at any other point on the time line then we are opening doors that are better left closed.
What I’m saying is that the commitment to life is not a purely Christian concern, it has to be a concern for our society or we will destroy ourselves. It’s not a big step from parents destroying their unborn children because they’re inconvenient, to children returning the favour when their parents get old for the same reason.
But listen up folks just because the sanctity of life isn’t just a Christian concern doesn’t mean we have a right to ignore it. The law says If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.
I wonder if that could also mean that whoever condones murder by their silence is in danger of judgement. Remember the words of Edmund Burke “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” Let’s not try to determine how the other fellow should do the job while making excuses for why we’re not doing the job. He will be held accountable for what he did or didn’t do, you won’t. But in the same way you and you alone will be accountable for your actions, or lack of actions. And so Christ tells us the first is a law for society, You shall not murder.
And the Christian is not only to keep that law he is to fulfil it. Christ explains in Matthew 5:22 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.
In other words, listen up people this is one of those profound Guptill thoughts, “It’s not enough to not poison your boss’s strawberries, you can’t even think about poisoning your boss’s strawberries. The Jewish law dealt with murder but it didn’t deal with anger and hatred which are the seeds that murder springs from.
Christ is telling us that he expects society, the unredeemed to refrain from killing each other from conception to natural death. But he expects those who follow him, the redeemed members of society not only to refrain from physical homicide but also to refrain from emotional homicide, that is hatred, and verbal homicide, saying “You Idiot.”
Now you can’t expect a man not to hate when he has yet to experience the love of God, but once he has tasted that love hatred needs to become a thing of the past. And so Christ gives us three additional illustrations.
1) Love Destroys Hatred Like light destroys darkness and salt destroys blandness the very addition of love to a relationship dispels hatred.
Matthew 5:22 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.
1) If a Jew cursed a fellow Jewish man then he had to stand before the council, but it didn’t matter what he said about a woman or a Gentile. But Christ says if we say to anyone, anyone, man, woman, Jew, gentile, Christian, non-Christian, Wesleyan, Baptist, Pentecostal, Anglican, Catholic, Moslem, Hindu or as my mother calls herself, nothingterian, something as mild as “You idiot” that we are in danger of hell fire. You say “Pastor that isn’t what he meant.” Oh no? That’s what he said. In other words you can’t kill a man or his reputation.