Sermon on the Mount
“Jesus’ teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of His day.” Tim Keller
Matthew 5:21-26 – “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at 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, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
This study today is in reality a continuation of last week’s message on the righteousness of the Pharisees’. In fact, the rest of this chapter deals with issues of righteousness and the new economy of Christ’s law.
Jesus begins by pointing out that the law of the Old Testament said that there was to be no murder. That is there was to be no taking of life out of malice or contempt for the other person. While the Pharisees had kept the letter of the law they failed to keep the spirit of the law. So here, Jesus was dealing with the spirit of the law when he spoke to them and said that even to be angry with a brother was a sin. That is why He states that murder takes place in the heart long before it becomes a physical act.
Then he says that to call someone a fool places one under judgment. The word used in the KJV is the word Racca! It is thought to be the sound for spitting in one’s face. In the New Testament times one of the worse things that could be done for anyone was to spit in their face. It was a sign of total contempt and rejection. In fact in most states it is a crime to spit in another’s face. One could be arrested for assault for spitting in another’s face.
The reason that Jesus dealt with the issue of anger here is that He knew that unless anger is dealt with it would give room for the enemy to work. If we do not deal with our anger we begin to retain it and then we cultivate it so that it begins to control our lives. This is why Paul says to “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”
Therefore if we do not deal with our anger it leads to sin and can lead to murdering another if not in the physical at least in the emotional and relational sense.
Dallas Willard in his book Divine Conspiracy stated that “there is nothing that can be done with anger that cannot be done better without it.” It is however a natural process that when we see things undone that anger builds naturally and finally will break into action.
The answer to the issues of life though is to handle things with love and not harbor anger which leads to bitterness. In Hebrews 12:15 the writer says “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled…”
We must first understand that anger is a God created emotion. Anger is what gets the adrenaline flowing so that we are called into action to do what we did not think we can do. But our anger needs to be submitted to God so that we do not step outside the bounds of God’s purposes and His will for us.
In most cases we deal with anger in one of two ways. These tend to be the extremes:
- We internalize it. The internalization of anger or clamming up – To clam up we repress the anger and we hold onto it. This leads to stress, bitterness, ulcers and other sicknesses. The Minerth Meir clinic found that when we allow things to go with dealing with them that Serotonin in the brain is actually depleted and results in anxiety, depression and mental failures.
- We ventilate it. The ventilation of anger or blowing up – when one blows up, their emotional energies are most often aimed and fired at someone else. This is when we say and do things that we would not do otherwise.
The key is to direct our anger toward the problem and not the person.
It is for this reason that Jesus says that if you come into worship and you realize that your brother has something against you that you are to leave your offering there and go to be reconciled with your brother or sister.
Notice the steps:
- Realize there is an offense. There is some recognition of a wrong that has been done. Notice the person themselves has not done anything but they remember that the other person has a problem.
- Leave your offering.
- Go – Jesus calls us to go to that person and don’t let it go on.
- Be reconciled
- Then return and offer your gift.
Other scriptures on reconciliation:
Mark 11:25 “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
In the final analysis we must value others and remember that every person is a creation of God.