Summary: Matthew 5:21-26 Thoughtcrime – murder and anger
Thoughtcrime – murder and anger
Last week we looked at the Old Testament Law in relation to the Law of Christ, and I know that many of you were away for that sermon, but that sermon really serves as the foundation for understanding the rest of the Sermon on the Mount, so I’d encourage you to grab a copy of from the sound-desk if you missed that sermon (either the print version or recorded version), or grab it off the church’s website at www.gympie-baptist-church.com. And last week we noted that the Old Testament laws were given as a national law for a specific nation – Israel. And they were designed to be policed by other people - that meant that they concerned themselves only with actions – not the heart or our thoughts, because other people can’t see our thoughts, they can only see our actions. And we noticed that the Law of Christ. That is – how Christ comes not to do away with the Old Testament Law, but He came to complete it, to fulfil it, to perfect it. We noticed that Jesus is not just concerned with what we do, but also with how we think and say, what is in our hearts. And we learnt that when we become a Christian He writes His Law on our hearts. Our thoughts are just as important as our actions. My thoughts reveal who is the real me, your thoughts reveal who is the real you.
And today we are going to look at one commandments in the Old Testament Law that Jesus came to complete. Murder, which Jesus completed by including anger in with that. And next week we will look at adultery, which Jesus completed by including lust and flirting with that. And they are both big big issues. In both cases, Jesus is concerned not just with the act of murdering or committing adultery, but with with the thoughts of doing so.
So let’s jump into the first commandment here, the one we will look at today – murder, which is in Matthew 5: 21-26 (pg 810). Jesus starts by quoting the 6th commandment:
Matthew 521 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’
Now most of us think we are fine because we haven’t done any murders lately, or maybe never at all. We think we are off the hook. And when you ask the average person on the street, “are you a sinner?” or “do you think you are good enough to go to heaven?” The response is often, “Well I think I’m okay, I haven’t murdered anyone or anything like that”. And sometimes as Christians we can have the same attitude. We reckon we are pretty okay because we haven’t done anyhing really bad like murdering someone. And that’s probably what the people listening to Jesus 2000 years ago also thought. Yep, 6th commandment, I’ve kept that. I’m okay. But Jesus is about to shock them – and us. Jesus says in verse 22:
Matthew 522 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
Now when I reed this passage I squirm. Why? 2 things. First – although I know I’ve never actually murdered someone in reality, I have been angry with people. And then the big thing that makes me squirm is the last bit of the sentence - that bit about hell fire. So let’s unpack this verse
Jesus starts by saying, “But I say to you.” This is interesting. What it means is that in verse 21 He’s quoted an Old Testament Law, in this case, the 6th commandment, and then He says, “But I say to you.” The “I” is emphasised. Remember last week we looked at verse 17 where Jesus says:
Matthew 517 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
Remember, Jesus didn’t come to abolish the Old Testament Law. Sometimes as Christians we think that He did and we don’t have to follow any laws. No Jesus didn’t come to abolish the Old Testament Law, but to fulfil it, to complete it. And now here in verse 21, when Jesus quotes an Old Testament Law and then says, “But I say to you,” it means that Jesus is about to explain how he fuffills, or completes, one particlarly law - in this case, the law of murder. And He says the same thing in verses 27-28 when He completes the law on adultery. Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah, has the authority to complete the Law.