Lent 2022 Day 16

Lent 2022 Day 16

Sat 19 Mar

Matt 5:21-22, 27-30 Jesus and the Law

21 ‘You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, “Raca,” is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, “You fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell.

27 ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

We slip into the New Testament to see how Jesus treats the Law. You’d hope that he might put on it a softer spin, a more human face; perhaps he could ease it up a little, and re-interpret the Law for his time. After all, this is what the world and the worldly church has been trying to do for centuries, no less so than in our time.

Teachers and lawyers of Jesus’ time, it seems, may have actually pared down the Law to the letter only, and in so doing discarded the spirit of the Law. When God talks of murder, Jesus tells us that we should look, too, at the things that could lead to murder – jealousy, covetousness, broken relationships, “honour”, revenge, anger. Jesus tells his listeners that judgment is not only reserved for murderers, but for all those who are on the pathway that might lead that way.

Jesus does not let up on the Law. He tells his listeners that using derogatory language against someone is wrong. “Raca” is a term of abuse, signifying another’s worthlessness. You can’t even get away with put-downs where Jesus is concerned.

Adultery under Jesus’ view would be more likely to implicate the male gender that, up to this point, seems largely to have got away with it, leaving the female to take a disproportionate share of the blame. Men, be careful how you look at a woman.

And as for the remedy Jesus proposes, it’s nothing if not effective. Removing the offending part may seem medieval, but anyone who sins and does not repent will carry that sin like a millstone, and its consequences around in perpetuity.

Jesus offers us a way to be free from sin, so we don’t have to be so drastic – repent.

Do you think that Jesus’ view on the commandments still holds true in our time?

Is your relationship with every member of your fellowship one of love and respect? Who needs to be asked for their forgiveness?

Do you hold resentments, hurts, or a desire to place your righteousness on the head of another?

Does your church fellowship need to repent of anything?

Father God, Jesus has made it tougher than I first realised. I ask you to forgive my self-righteousness, and am amazed that you will do this because of Jesus, because you so loved the world, because you so love me. Amen.

Just repent!