Summary: The whole point of the commandment to not commit murder is that human life is absolutely precious because we were made in the image and likeness of Almighty God.
HAVE YOU MURDERED ANYONE LATELY?
1. One of the major challenges of preaching through a book of the Bible or extended sections of a book is that you are forced to deal with some of the tougher and more uncomfortable passages of scripture.
• It would be so much easier and more enjoyable for me and, I assume, all of us to just skip over passages and topics like murder, hatred, sexual immorality, cursing, and retaliation and stick to those that speak of God’s love and goodness, His faithfulness, mercy and forgiveness.
• Besides, we read and see way more than we can stomach of murder, rape, immorality, and violence in the media and movies – why should we still have to deal with that stuff when we come to church? Isn’t church supposed to provide us some kind of a safe haven from all that horror?
2. Well, the answer is YES and NO.
• YES, the church community needs to most assuredly be a safe haven from those kinds of behaviors. The church, and I am not just referring to sanctuaries like this or gathering places where the church meets, but to the entire community of God’s people – should never be the place where any immoral, vicious, violent, or hateful behavior is practiced. Sadly, though, it happens all the time, among the clergy and lay folk. The tragic reports of priests and pedophilia, of Mary Winkler’s brutal murder of her pastor husband in March of this year, of adulterous relationships that make the headlines when a pastor runs off with the church secretary or music director, but that never make even the local news when it happens between church members, of bitter feuds and animosities that simmer and boil without any thought of resolution between members - ought to be enough evidence for us.
• NO, in the sense that the church is intended to be God’s Emergency Department and General Hospital for all the various wounds, ailments and diseases that plague our planet and God’s people – that’s us – are the ones staffing the facility. And since helping to heal human brokenness is our business, talking about human brokenness is an absolute requirement.
3. And so here in this next segment of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He deals with some of the major causes of our human conflict and confusion. Today’s focus is on the root cause of murder.
• Now maybe we’re all thinking to ourselves, “Well I’ve never murdered anyone, so this doesn’t really apply to me”. Hold on a second before you turn your mind elsewhere!
• Notice how Jesus sharpens and clarifies our understanding of murder to include much more than just the physical act of taking another human life.
o If all that the sixth commandment referred to was only what we commonly understand as murder – the deliberate taking of a human life, it would be bad enough – and without taking into account the over 47 million aborted babies since 1973, there are over 25,000 such crimes in the US every single year. Seattle reported 25 murders in 2005, Washington DC had 195, Phoenix had 220, Philadelphia (the city of brotherly love) had 377, Los Angeles came in with 489, and New York City took the record with 539.
o Just as a malignant tumor may not be visible until it is too late to treat it, so Jesus is saying that the physical act of taking another human life is the final and end stage outworking of a vengeful and hateful process that began in the mind and heart. The final outward act resulted from exactly the same destructive inner seed.
o And God is concerned about the entire process – not just the end result.
o We might like to excuse and justify the preliminary attitudes and behaviors of anger and insults as “not being that bad” and believing that “we would never allow those emotions to get out of hand – we know exactly where the brakes are”
I guess that might have been the very same thing that King David might have said – a godly and upright man who had written in Psalm 5: “For thou, Oh Lord, art not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not sojourn with thee…Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness…” – that he would never let his emotions get the better of him, until…until late one Spring afternoon when his soldiers were off on the battlefield and he was relaxing out on his balcony and his eye just happened to catch the naked Bathsheba down in her courtyard taking a bath. And soon one thing let to another and another and another and she was pregnant and her husband Uriah had to be eliminated.