THE LIFE OF CHRIST
series on the Life of Christ, we have been examining the Sermon on the Mount.
We have looked at the first 20 verses on Mathew 5. We ended our last lesson
looking at how Jesus said He came to fulfill the Law of Moses not destroy it.
Before we get to some new verses, I want to emphasize verse 20 once again
because it sets the stage for the verses that follow it.
Matthew 5:20 "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the
righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the
kingdom of heaven.
The Scribes and the Pharisees knew the Law of Moses and
they even kept it to a degree, but as we read in many places in the New
Testament, they just went through the motions and did a lot of things just for
show. We also know they had a lot of problems with making their traditions
equal with God’s Word and even sometime would make their tradition even more
important than God’s Word.
As I have been teaching, Jesus is saying that the
mentality of the Scribes and Pharisees is not good enough. It is not about
treating the Law of Moses as a checklist, it's about loving God with your whole
heart, mind, and soul and allowing that to motivate you to keep the law. This
is why we Jesus keeps setting the spiritual bar higher in His sermon. He will
continue to emphasize how we must have our very thoughts focused on God and His
way and not just be people who keep the
I think Paul gives a great commentary of this in:
1 Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not
love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of
prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have
all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am
nothing. 3 And though I
bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be
burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
verses we are about to look at starting in verse 21, we are going to see Jesus
talking about how the people had heard what the Law had said. In other words,
this is what they people had been taught by such men as the Pharisees and
Scribes because many of the common people did not read the Scriptures like you
and I can today. They had limited access to them and many times they got a lot
of their teaching from hearing men like the Scribes and Pharisees.
Jesus is going to appeal to His authority to teach the people a deeper more
accurate meaning about some of these various laws. Moses predicted that Jesus
would do this very thing in:
Deuteronomy 18:15 " The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your
midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear,
16 "according to all you desired of the LORD your God in
Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, 'Let me not hear again the voice of
the LORD my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.' 17 "And the LORD said to me:
'What they have spoken is good. 18
'I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and
will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command
Him. 19 'And it shall be that
whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it
of him. See also Acts 3:22ff.
this thought in mind, let’s now look at verses:
Matthew 5:21 " You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not
murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.'
The command to not to murder is found in Exodus 20:13,
which is part of the 10 commandments. Being in danger of the judgment is
referring to those who were responsible for making judgments of such matters.
This is associated with:
Deuteronomy 16:18 " You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the
LORD your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the
people with just judgment.
Those guilty of murder would be put to death (Ex. 21:12).
The interpretation was that only the physical act of murder mattered, but Jesus
takes it a step further to deal with the source of murder as we read in:
ASV Matthew 5:22 but I say unto you, that every one who is angry with his brother shall be
in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be
in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in
danger of the hell of fire.
There are three different stages that Jesus gives about
the sin of anger. The first stage is simply being angry with your brother. This
is a silent type of anger because you are keeping it to yourself, but Jesus
still says that this will put you in danger of the judgment. Anger is one of
those emotions that can build inside you like an active volcano that is moments
away from erupting. This idea of keeping your anger in check is not a new one
because we read in:
Proverbs 24:17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad
when he stumbles; 18 Lest the
LORD see it, and it displease Him, And He turn away His wrath from him.
Proverbs 25:20 Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather, And like vinegar
on soda, Is one who sings songs to a heavy heart. 21 If your enemy is hungry, give
him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
Now think about this. We are
talking about our enemies here. If there is anything that can stir up anger in
a person it is an enemy who does despicable things to you or people you love.
In fact, it seems very natural to hate your enemy and be full of anger against
him, but even here in Proverbs, we see that we are to keep our anger and our
hate in its place because even if something bad happens to the wicked that they
deserve if we rejoice in their torture and downfall then it will displease God
and can cause Him to unload His wrath on us. We will talk more about our
enemies later when Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for them. These
are certainly hard things to do, but we are to keep our anger under control
because it is the source of murder. Even John says:
1 John 3:15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has
eternal life abiding in him.
The second stage of anger is
whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council;
The word Raca means this:
empty, i.e. a senseless, empty headed man 2) a term of reproach used among the
Jews in the time of Christ
Many times when our anger increases, we can no longer
remain silent and we feel like we have to say something. So, we begin to lose
control of our tongues and we start striking that match that can burn down an
entire forest. Those who begin to spew out words like these in anger, will be
in danger of the council, which would refer to the Sanhedrin council.
The third stage of anger is this:
whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of the hell of fire.
The word fool means:
foolish, stupid always a term of
reproach; (1) of persons considered to be intellectually weak, irrational, or
lacking in foresight
this may seem similar to the previous insult, this statement expresses even
more hatred. The idea here is not to point out specific words such as Raca or
fool, but to show how anger will continue to grow inside of you and cause you
to increase the actions that you will take when your anger is not brought under
control. Jesus says once you enter this level of anger, you put soul in
jeopardy of hell fire.
few things we can learn from the verses we have looked at so far. First, sin
begins in the heart. Jesus said to the Scribes and Pharisees:
Matthew 12:34 "Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out
of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
35 "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart
brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth
Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues
Though Jesus is talking about the Law of Moses in the
Sermon of the Mount, the principle of controlling your anger applies to
Christians as well, because the overall message of the New Testament is for us
to Love God and keep His commandments and it also emphasizes how we are to keep
ourselves pure from the inside out. As the verses we just read teach, if we
want to be able to control sin in our lives, it must begin with the heart. As
2 Corinthians 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for
pulling down strongholds, 5
casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the
knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of
We might think we are doing a
great job of biting our tongues and not saying what we are thinking or we might
keep from putting a knot on someone’s head, but God’s Word is teaching us that
we need to control our very thoughts and not allow them to control us. This is
a difficult task to achieve, but it's what we are to strive to do, by bringing
every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
Is hating your brother or being
angry with him the same as murdering him physically? No, it is not the same,
but it can yield the same results because both are sin, both acts can cause you
to lose your soul. If one continues hating or being angry with his brother, it
may very well lead the physical act of murder. Jesus continues this thought in:
Matthew 5:23 "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember
that your brother has something against you,
24 "leave your gift there before the altar, and go your
way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Bringing your gift before the altar
was a public form of worship in the temple. I can just imagine in my mind how
the Pharisees and Scribes would have some sort of ritual in the way they did
this so that it looked the best. Jesus is saying that taking care of a problem
between you and your brother has a higher priority than worshipping God with
your sacrificially gift. Notice, He said leave your gift behind and go be
reconciled with your brother, then come and offer your gift.
This goes hand and hand with
what John taught in:
1 John 4:19 We love Him because He first loved us.
20 If someone says, "I love God," and hates his
brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen,
how can he love God whom he has not seen?
21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves
God must love his brother also.
We cannot offer up acceptable
worship to God if we hate our brother because we cannot be in fellowship with
God if we hate him, which is why Jesus emphasizes taking care of this problem
This does not mean that we will
always be able to reconcile with our brother because they have to be willing,
but we must make every effort to do so and to never harbor hatred in our hearts
for that person. Then Jesus says:
Matthew 5:25 "Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with
him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to
the officer, and you be thrown into prison.
26 "Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get
out of there till you have paid the last penny.
Under Roman law, you could
resolve a disagreement before you stood before the judge, but if you did not,
then you would be subject to the judge’s decision. So, the idea here is to try
and be reconciled with your adversary quickly so you do not have to stand
before the judge in your offensive state because once you get before the judge,
there is going to be no getting out of the punishment.
Here is what I think of when I
see this. If you and I do something wrong to someone and we do not resolve it
we are sinning. If we do not take care of that sin before we stand before the
judge, who is Jesus, then it will be too late for us. We will not be able to
fix the problem and we will receive the punishment due, which is eternal
punishment in hell. Since there is no way for us to pay for our wrong after the
fact, then that means we will be there forever.
So, let’s take what Jesus has
challenged us with to heart. If we do someone wrong, try to reconcile the
situation. If someone does you wrong and wants to reconcile, you must be
willing to forgive and move on as Jesus said:
Matthew 6:14 "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will
also forgive you. 15
"But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father
forgive your trespasses.
I know this can be challenging, but if our brother
repents, let us forgive him and be reconciled otherwise our Father in heaven
will not forgive us of our wrongs and our worship will not be acceptable to
Him. This particular teaching goes hand and hand with the Beatitude of being a
Let’s take a look at what Jesus says next:
Matthew 5:27 " You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit
This is the 7th commandment in the 10
commandments (Exod. 20:14). The Jews only considered it a sin if there a
physical act of adultery done, which is sex outside of the marriage, and it was
punishable by death as:
Leviticus 20:10 'The man who commits adultery with another man's wife, he who
commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress,
shall surely be put to death.
Notice what Jesus says next:
Matthew 5:28 "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has
already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Once again Jesus goes directly to the source of adultery,
which is the heart. Now God has given both men and women the desire to look at the
opposite sex, otherwise we would have no desire to procreate or marry another.
While there is nothing wrong with looking at the opposite sex per se, it can
become wrong if we look at the opposite sex in a lustful way. Just like anger,
lust can build up in a person and cause them to commit sexual sin, which is why
Jesus says that the man who looks at a woman to lust after her has committed
adultery in his heart.
David is the perfect example of this, as we read in:
2 Samuel 11:2 Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on
the roof of the king's house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the
woman was very beautiful to behold.
3 So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said,
"Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah
the Hittite?" 4 Then
David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her,
for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house. 5 And the woman conceived; so she
sent and told David, and said, "I am with child."
David saw Bathsheba bathing and because of her beauty he
lusted after her. It did not take long for lust to move from his heart to
committing adultery. As Christians, we must learn to have self-control
especially when it comes to lusting after the opposite sex. As Job said:
Job 31:1 "I
have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman?
In our time and age it so easy to for us to get trapped
in lusting after the opposite sex because there has never been a time before
now where there is so many naked pictures and videos available for people to
watch and lust after. Much of this can be done in the privacy of the home. We
must let Jesus’ words sink into our hearts because if we continue to allow
ourselves to look lust after the opposite sex not only are we sinning in our
hearts, we are just a step away from committing physical adultery or some other
Like Job, we should make a covenant with our eyes not to
look at such things. We must keep our minds off such things by filling our
hearts with good things as Paul said in:
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble,
whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever
things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there
is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on
these things. 9 The things
which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God
of peace will be with you.
This would be a good time to deal with a question that
someone might ask regarding Jesus’ statement. If a man is found lusting after
another woman, can his wife divorce him for adultery?
The simple answer is no. If one could divorce his or her
wife for a lustful heart, then just about everybody could do it because most
men and women alike have probably lusted after another in one way or another at
some point in their lives. This would make about much sense as putting everyone
in prison for murder who was angry at their brother. Besides this, Jesus did
not say that lust is physical adultery, but it is adultery in the heart. Both
things are sinful, but lusting and actually physically adultery are two
different things. Physical adultery requires two people as can be seen in:
1 Corinthians 6:16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with
her? For "the two," He says, "shall become one flesh."
John 8:4 they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman
was caught in adultery, in the very act.
Though lusting after another is sinful and can certainly
lead to physical adultery, one cannot divorce another for the lust of the flesh
because actually adultery must take place as we will see in just a minute.
Next, Jesus expresses the importance of keeping sin out
of your lives, which include the heart.
Matthew 5:28 "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from
you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than
for your whole body to be cast into hell.
30 "And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off
and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your
members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
This is not meant to be taken literally, but some in the
time’s past have. All Jesus is saying in this is that whatever seems precious
to you in your life that is a sin, cut it out. Get rid of it because is not
worth losing your soul over. If you struggle with anger or with lust as we have
been looking at, then get rid of it by filling yourself full of God’s Word and
good things. Don’t put yourself into situations that will cause you to be
tempted to do these things or any sinful thing. This points right back to the
beatitude of having a pure heart. There is no sinful pleasure on the earth that
is worth losing your soul over.
This next topic is one that many struggle with because it
many are affected by it.
Matthew 5:31 " Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him
give her a certificate of divorce.'
There were three schools of thought based on the Mishnah
from a section called “Gittin.” Notice what we learn from what WVBS says about
Shammai school of thought - taught that a man could not divorce his wife
he found her to be unchaste.
Hillel school - taught even if she burned the food a man could divorce his
(see Deut 24:1).
Akiba school - taught if a man found one fairer than his wife (“no favor in his
he could divorce her.
school of Shammai agrees with Jesus’ teaching. Mark chapter 10 approaches
from the woman’s viewpoint. Divorce was allowed in Judaism, and it involved a
process in which the person being divorced from would receive a certificate
get ). There was no thought about the sanctity of the marriage relationship, or
of this action. This certificate, which was placed into the woman’s hands,
“Go, thou art free to marry any man” (Gittin 9:3). The certificate protected
being charged as an adulteress if
she should remarry. (WVBS)
see more information about this starting in:
Matthew 19:3 The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, "Is
it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?" 4 And He answered and said to
them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning
'made them male and female,' 5
"and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be
joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? 6 "So then, they are no
longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man
separate." 7 They said
to Him, "Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and
to put her away?" 8 He
said to them, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted
you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
Jesus makes it clear that one cannot just simply divorce
his wife for any reason. Though a divorce paper was granted under the Law of
Moses, it was not that way from the beginning. Marriage was supposed to be
forever. Next, Jesus teaches us the only lawful way for one to divorce and be
Matthew 5:32 "But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife
for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and
whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.
Matthew 19:9 "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual
immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who
is divorced commits adultery."
This is not a hard saying to understand, but it is hard
saying to follow especially when you consider our high divorce rate in this
country. Jesus, is clearly teaching that the only way that two people can
divorce and then the innocent party can remarry another eligible person is if
fornication was involved. However, the guilt party must remain unmarried. If
someone marries the guilty party, they commit adultery or as the Greek grammar
shows, they continue to commit adultery. If the marriage ends in divorce for
any other reason than fornication, then neither party can remarry, or they will
be living in adultery. We will talk more about this in a later lesson once we
get to Matthew 19.
As I said, the Sermon of the mount will challenge us, and
I think we have certainly seen just how challenging Jesus’ sermon can be, but
there is so much more He has to say. So, I hope you will be able to join us
next time as we continue to see how Jesus will continue to challenge us to grow
in our faith and our commitment to God.