Summary: Jesus aims at our hearts as he exposes sins of anger, lust, and misusing God's name. Only his righteousness can cover us. And with the new heart his righteousness brings, we cherish genuine righteousness wanting our hearts and lives to match his.
Text: Matthew 5:21-37
Theme: Our New Heart Cherishes Genuine Righteousness
A. A righteousness pure from sinful anger
B. A righteousness pure from sinful lust
C. A righteousness pure from misusing God's name
Season: Epiphany 6a
Date: February 13, 2011
Web page: http://hancocklutheran.org/sermons/Our-New-Heart-Cherishes-Genuine-Righteousness-Matthew5_21-37.html
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The Word from God through which Jesus speaks to us is Matthew 5.
"You have heard it said to the people long ago: "You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be accountable to the court." But I tell you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be accountable to the court. And whoever says to his brother, "Raka" will be accountable to the Sanhedrin. And whoever says, "You, fool," will be accountable [to go] to the fire of hell.
"Therefore, if you are bringing your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go, first be reconciled to your brother. Then come and offer your gift. Come to agreement with your adversary quickly while you are still on the way, so that your adversary does not hand you over to the court and the court to the officer and he throws you into prison. Truly I say to you, you will never escape from there until you hand over the last penny.
"You have heard it said, "Do not commit adultery." But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye traps you [in sin], pluck it out and throw it away from you. For it's better for you that one of your members perishes rather than your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand traps you [in sin], cut it off and throw it away from you. For it is better for you that one of your members perishes rather than your hold body going away into hell.
"It's been said, "Let whoever divorces his wife give her a divorce certificate." But I tell you that everyone who divorces his wife except due to fornication has made her stigmatized as an adulteress. And whoever marries anyone so divorced is stigmatized as an adulterer.
"Again you have heard that it was said to the people long ago: "Do not swear falsely, but repay to the Lord what you have sworn." But I tell you not to swear at all, neither by heaven (because that's God's throne), nor by the earth (because that's the footstool for his feet), nor by Jerusalem (because that's the city of the great King). And don't swear by your head, because you can't make one hair white or black. But Let your word be, "Yes, yes. No, no." Anything more than this is from the evil One."" (Matthew 5:21-37)
Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:
Tomorrow is St. Valentine's Day. If you've been in the stores, you've seen a lot of hearts. Heart-shaped boxes. Heart-shaped candies. Teddy bears holding hearts. Maybe you've even seen Cupid aiming his arrow at a heart.
In the word of God before us today, Jesus aims at our hearts, but not to make us fall in love with our sweetheart. In Baptism Jesus gave you a new heart. But what was wrong with the old? What is the new like? Let's think about that as we continue this series on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. May the Holy Spirit open our minds to ponder Jesus' words here, as we focus on the theme: Our new heart cherishes genuine righteousness.
A. A righteousness pure from sinful anger
1. How does the Fifth Commandment expose our unrighteousness?
"Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:20 NIV1984), Jesus has just said, as we heard last week. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were considered the best people of their day. And they had a kind of righteousness. You see, righteousness means to measure up to what the law says, meeting it's requirements. In short, it's to be right in the sight of the law. And the Pharisees were righteous according to their own interpretation of the law.
How well do you think that would fly in traffic court if a speeder argued, "Yes, I saw the 55 mph sign, but I interpreted it to mean I couldn't go 55 mph faster that the other traffic. That's why I kept it under 110." He might be righteous in his own eyes, but not in the judge's. And that's whose opinion matters.