Summary: Part 4 of a 13 week series Hearing Jesus Again. This message looks at the contrasts between the old rightness and the rightness of the kingdom heart.
Jesus On Anger and Contempt
Part 4 in series Hearing Jesus Again
Wildwind Community Church
May 24, 2008
When is the last time you were doing something fun and thought to yourself, “I haven’t had a good chewing out in a while – I really miss that.” Or when is the last time you intentionally made someone angry because it’s fun to be on the receiving end of someone’s temper tantrum? Or when is the last time somebody called you some terrible name and you went, “Ahhh – it’s like a breath of fresh air.”
Those are three things that don’t happen, aren’t they? Why is that? The answer is found in last week’s message. People live from their hearts. And from the depth of our hearts, we do not like being chewed out, bawled out, and cussed out. I have never met a single person who is an exception to this. Nobody enjoys this. It’s universal. You will never meet a single soul who truly likes being the victim of someone else’s anger and/or contempt.
Today we’re into part 4 of our series Hearing Jesus Again, walking through the Sermon on the Mount step by step and trying to hear and understand what Jesus really meant. In week one we looked at how the Sermon on the Mount is commonly misunderstood and talked about how it fits perfectly into the framework of the single message Jesus preached most often – the Kingdom of Heaven is here! In week 2 we looked closely at the Beatitudes, again considering how the Beatitudes have commonly been misinterpreted and then reexamining them in light of the single message Jesus preached most often – the Kingdom of Heaven is here! Last week we spent a while talking about the human heart – how people live from their hearts and how that poses a huge problem for human beings because our hearts often do not lead us to do good things we actually want to do. We find that our desire to be righteous doesn’t lead to right actions in many cases and so we’re flying upside down – not knowing right from wrong or how to really live rightly. Jesus said that in order to enter God’s kingdom, our righteousness (dikaiosune) must go way beyond rule-keeping and the letter of the law.
Today we will look at the first of five (maybe six, depending on how the messages divide up as they get written) contrasts between the old rightness and the rightness of the kingdom heart. Let’s dig into our text:
Matthew 5:21-22 (NIV)
21 "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ’Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’
22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ’Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ’You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
“You’ve heard it was said do not murder…” Where would people have heard this? The 10 Commandments! It was said in the 10 Commandments “Thou shalt not kill.” The 10 Commandments are part of the old dikaiosune – the old standard of righteousness. The people had somehow gotten the impression that this commandment meant it was okay to WANT to kill somebody, as long as you didn’t actually do it. And what Jesus says here is, “Look, murder isn’t the only issue here – what about the anger and contempt that give rise to murder before it ever happens, and even if it never happens?” The old rightness (dikaiosune) stopped at the action of killing a person. If you killed somebody, you had gone too far. Jesus says lays out a new standard – “anybody who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” Jesus got way past the behavior right to the “heart of the matter.” The kingdom heart does not entertain anger and contempt, does not allow them to find a home. Let’s look at anger and contempt for a moment and see why they are at odds with the kingdom heart.
If you trace wrongdoing back to its roots in the human heart, you will find that in most cases it involves some kind of anger and/or contempt. Adultery often involves anger and contempt toward the spouse on whom one is cheating. Robbery involves contempt for the rights of others and maybe even anger at them for having what you do not have. Greed often drives people to do things that could not be done if they did not stand in contempt of their boss, or the company they work for. Certainly crimes like rape and assault involve anger and contempt. You can go on and on and find roots of anger and contempt in most of the wrongdoing in the world. And so it is here that Jesus begins.