Summary: A look at raising the bar as described in the Sermon on the Mount.
-for the last few weeks here at Fishers UMC we have been taking a look at Jesus’ famous Sermon On The Mount found at the beginning of Matthew. It’s really one of the few times where we have an actual “sermon” from Jesus. Most other teaching came in the form of Him talking with people here and there, looking for teaching opportunities.
-but we’re going to continue where we left off last week in Matthew 5.
**Matt. 5:38-48 -> 38“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. 40If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. 41If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. 42Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow. 43You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (NLT)
-there’s a lot in there. I wonder what it was like to have heard the Sermon On The Mount live, just listening to Jesus rattling these things off, one after another. People must have been so overwhelmed by the end.
-and I think for us to see that, we have to look at what it meant to them, how they think and compare that with how we think.
-like the first phrase:
1. AN EYE FOR AN EYE
-this is one of the oldest ideas there is. Fairness. But it’s even more than that.
-there’s a reason this is such an old idea. This was one of the first ever recorded laws. The first ever set of written law for a body of people, this is in there.
-here it is. [SHOW PICTURE OF HAMMURABI’S STELE]. This statue here was discovered a little over a hundred years ago. It’s a picture of a king (which is more like a mayor, this is long ago there weren’t really countries but rather city states), but it’s a king, King Hammurabi. The picture tells the story of the Babylonian god Shamesh commissioning Hammurabi to be king. The bottom, that big black part, contains the first ever written set of laws, 282 in all. And in those laws is the most famous one, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”.
-and a little side note, to give you an idea when this is, Hammurabi is the Babylonian name for this king, Hebrew people remembered him as Amraphel. He was one of the five mayor-kings that captured Abram’s nephew Lot in Genesis 14 [SHOW GEN.14:1, 12 NLT].
-so this is a law that’s been around a long time. A few hundred years later when Moses is given the set of rules that the people Jesus was talking to knew as The Law, this one was in there, handed down from God. You can find it in there three times, Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20 and Deuteronomy 19:21 [SHOW LIST OF VERSES].
-so the people listening to Jesus, they knew this law. They knew it by heart. It’s in their Law given to them by God three times. This would be something they readily lived by.
-now for us, we think it’s barbaric. If someone knocks out your tooth in a fight, you don’t get the police, come back, and get a pair of pliers and take out one of their teeth. [PULL OUT PLIERS]. I mean, really, who’s ready for a trade?
-no! Of course not! That’s crazy, we would never do that. We’re more civilized.
-what we do is sue. No, we don’t ask for an eye or a tooth. Instead we take that person to court and get what we call “Fair Compensation.” Because we want everything to be fair. So fair that half of all the world’s lawyers are right here in the U.S. of A. Because as much as we say we’re not like this, we still want fairness. We don't want to rip out someone else’s tooth, but we want to be paid for being put out.