Murder, He Wrote

Murder, He Wrote

          The purpose statement of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, “Jesus says he did not come to abolish but to fulfill it” v. 17. From v.21 to the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus corrects some of the misunderstanding of the Law. He begins here with the 6th commandment v.21 (Exodus 20:13, Deut.5:17 ) but adds their exposition (civil law). The idea of murder occurs in the Bible long before the 6th commandment was given (Gen. 9:6-God speaks to Noah). Numbers and Deut. Both show the judgment of people who kill accidentally or intentionally (cities of refuge).

1. The Tradition or the Religion v. 21

How did the Scribes and Pharisees understand the 6th commandment? They combined the moral and civil law. The Scripture is fine. The problem is their understanding of it. They had the civil rule explain the moral law.

a. The civil rule focused on ways not to get caught or lesser punishment rather than focusing on God’s judgment.

b. The civil rule dealt with the legal issues where the moral law teaches that life is precious to God and should be sacred.

2. The Translation or Jesus’ Interpretation v. 22-24 Jesus surpasses their interpretation of the Law because it reaches deeper than the Law.

a. The Law of Christ deals with the heart issue not just with the actual deed.

b. The Law of Christ deals with our words. Note: “raca”(idiot, literally empty head) and “fool”(moron or useless). Name calling in whatever form it takes according to Jesus is a serious sin.

c. The Law of Christ deals with our response to a known offense. By the time of Christ, the tradition felt it was more of a municipal/political issue than a moral issue on the sanctity of life. The killing of Abel by Cain started with anger toward his brother and really toward God-Gen. 4:6. Other verses to ponder: 1 Tim 2:8, James 1:20, Gal. 5:19-20-various stages of anger are listed. Note: degrees of verbal punishment-“anger” is subject to judgment. Rash anger is really murder from the heart. “Roca” was answerable to the Sanhedrin,“You fool” was in danger of hell, “fool” was used by Jesus, Paul and James but in a different context-denotes the error of thinking and acting. Jesus Luke 11:40-“You foolish people,” James 2:20, “You foolish man”; and Paul, “O foolish Galatians”. But when it proceeds from anger and malice within, it is sin. Can you see how people could misuse these words?

ILLUSTRATION: If you have ever driven in a crowded city, the driving habits of people can make you quite upset. Why are our words important? Because it tells God what we think of His creation. (Man is made in God’s image.)

3. The Treatment or Test “Therefore” Finale, v. 25-26

1. v. 23 “If you … God is not just concerned just with your offerings, but also your relationships. There is no value in worship if we have resentment with someone. Has your angry rose to the level of name calling? Probably yes. Here Jesus raises his level higher than the Law.

2. v. 25 “Settle things quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court.” The assumption here is that you know you are guilty and are trying a legal maneuver to escape it. Why?

A. Maybe he will show you mercy.

B. Anger doesn’t have a chance to surface.

C. Maybe your adversary could become your friend.

D. According to v. 23, your worship is meaningless unless you settle it.

Lessons for Life

1. Sinful words are just as serious to God as the sinful act.

2. The sinful heart is just as serious to God as the sinful act.

3. When our words and our heart are sinful, our worship is useless.



Leave a Reply