Summary: Sermon on the Mount - dealing with murder and reconciling relationships.

The Art of Reconciliation

Matthew 5:21-26

October 12, 2004


We are knee-deep in the Sermon on the Mount as we work our way through the gospel according to Matthew.

The section we look at today begins a number of individual teachings that Jesus gives regarding a number of different issues.

And it’s in these teachings that Jesus gets to the heart of a lot of things people either took for granted or just plain misunderstood.

And it’s one of these misunderstandings that Jesus addresses here in verses 21-26 of Matthew chapter 5.

Jesus talks here about murder and fractured relationships, and how they are connected. You may not have thought they were connected, but stay with me and I think you’ll catch it okay?

Let’s start off by reading verses 21-22, which are printed in your bulletin, as we look at the fact that…

Murder starts in the heart.

"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.

Jesus’ words, “You have heard it was said…” is not a criticism of the OT, but of their understanding and the traditional teachings of these things.

Another way to say it would be, “You have understood.”

Jesus was addressing the brand of teaching that said as long as you didn’t actually do the deed, in this case, killing someone, then you were okay.

Be as angry as you wanted to be, just don’t kill them. But Jesus says it goes much deeper than that.

Murder starts in the heart, just as every sin does. Later, Jesus talks about another sin that starts in the heart, adultery.

The point here is that murder is not necessarily the physical action that brings judgment, but the underlying attitudes and desires.

Jesus is saying that if when you look at a person and your heart causes you to look with insult and malice toward them, as the terms, “raca” and “fool” denote, then you are really no better than a murderer.

Maybe you’re more like Clarence Darrow, probably the most famous criminal lawyer of his generation. He once said, “I have not killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction out of obituary notices.” ( – Contributed by Matthew Rogers)

How’s that for a loving attitude? If this is you, then you need to ask God to take that away from you!

Folks, harboring malice toward someone is just wrong, and Jesus says that when we do, we are as bad as the person who physically takes the life of another person. Don’t take this lightly, folks. Jesus doesn’t.

So what do you do if you have had that kind of anger toward someone and the thoughts that Jesus describes as being as bad as murder?

First, you ask for the forgiveness of God, then you move on to what I want us to look at the rest of our time today, and that is to reconcile with that someone.

Starting in verse 23, we see these words:

23 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

25 "Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

Someone once said that when you come across the word, “therefore” in the Bible, look back and see what it’s “there for.”

In this case, Jesus says that an angry and murderous attitude toward someone is bad. Therefore, do something to repair that relationship before it gets to that point. Put down your offering and go make it right.

Jesus seems to think that it’s to our benefit if we get things right between us and someone we have a conflict with.

Reconciliation is one of the great themes of the Bible. God reconciled us to Himself through Jesus, and we are to be reconciled to others because of our love for Christ.

So if you call yourself a follower of Jesus, it’s important that you model the forgiveness and reconciliation He offered us. How do we do that? Let’s look at…

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