Summary: Jesus teaches us that the way to keep from murder is to deal with our anger before it gets out of control.

A Messiah Who Teaches Part 1: If Looks Could Kill

Text: Matt. 5:21-26


1. Illustration: A young girl who was writing a paper for school came to her father and asked, "Dad, what is the difference between anger and exasperation?" The father replied, "It is mostly a matter of degree. Let me show you what I mean." With that the father went to the telephone and dialed a number at random. To the man who answered the phone, he said, "Hello, is Melvin there?" The man answered, "There is no one living here named Melvin. Why don’t you learn to look up numbers before you dial" "See," said the father to his daughter. "That man was not a bit happy with our call. He was probably very busy with something and we annoyed him. Now watch...." The father dialed the number again. "Hello, is Melvin there?" asked the father. "Now look here!" came the heated reply. "You just called this number and I told you that there is no Melvin here! You’ve got lot of guts calling again!" The receiver slammed down hard. The father turned to his daughter and said, "You see, that was anger. Now I’ll show you what exasperation means. "He dialed the same number, and when a violent voice roared, "Hello!" The father calmly said, "Hello, this is Melvin. Have there been any calls for me?"

2. Jesus teaches his disciples that we are to live by the spirit of the law and not merely the letter. Most people can say they have never committed a murder, but is that enough?

a. We can murder people with our thoughts.

b. We can murder people with our words.

c. We can murder people with our actions.

3. Jesus gets to the root problem with murder - anger.

a. He tells us how to define it.

b. He tells us how to deal with it within the church.

c. He tells us how to deal with it outside the church.

4. Read Matt. 5:21-26

Proposition: Jesus teaches us that the way to keep from murder is to deal with our anger before it gets out of control.

Transition: First, Jesus...

I. Defines It (21-22)

A. But I Say to You

1. Six times in verses Matthew 5:21-43 Jesus cites Scripture and then, like a good rabbi, explains it.

a. The sort of wording he uses was used by other Jewish teachers to establish the fuller meaning of a text, although Jesus speaks with greater authority than Jewish teachers normally claimed (Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament).

b. Jesus is contrasting his interpretation of the Old Testament with faulty interpretations and/or applications (Wilkins, NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: Matthew, 240).

c. Above all, Jesus is going beyond the surface of what the law says to the heart of what it means.

2. Jesus begins this teaching with the sixth commandment when he says, “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’"

a. Here Jesus is quoting Ex. 20:13 “You must not murder."

b. Although Hebrew possesses seven words for killing, the verb used in Exodus 20:13 makes "murder" (rasah) a more accurate rendering than "kill." It denotes premeditation and deliberateness (Wilkins, 241).

c. This goes beyond the accidental killing of a person and shows intentionality.

3. However, we need to pay close attention to what Jesus says next, "But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment!"

a. Jesus here gets at the source of murder, which is anger.

b. 1 John 3:15 (NLT)

Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.

c. Jesus presses beyond behavior specifically punished by law to the kind of heart that generates such behavior.

d. Anger that would generate murder if unimpeded is the spiritual equivalent of murder.

e. God never really wanted people to obey the rules; he wants them to be holy as he is, to value what he values (Keener, IVP New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 114).

f. Anger alone is a violation of the law and was the original intent of the murder prohibition in the Old Testament.

g. The actual committing of murder is only the outward manifestation of an inward attitude, which is itself worthy of blame, whether or not it actually leads to the act of murder (France, 199).

4. Jesus also shows us that we can murder with out words when he says, "If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court."

a. The word translated "idiot" by the NLT is the Aramaic word "Racca," which means, "empty headed one."

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