And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, [Matthew 5:1-2 KJV]
What follows in Jesus’ sermon on this mountain are some of the most basic truths of Christianity. Children are taught at a very early age the “Be Attitudes”, Matthew 5:3-13, which tell us how to be happy in our lives. Then we’re told that we are as salt, a city, a candle – essential things, if used correctly, but useless if not. We’re then told about the everlasting commandments of God.
Then begins an interesting segment of contrasts – Ye have heard versus But I say unto you.
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: [Matthew 5:21 KJV]
Christ begins to discuss traditions versus reality. Most of the world has heard of the Ten Commandments and are familiar with Thou shalt not kill. In nations then and today there were rules about this, listing punishments for murder.
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. [Matthew 5:22 KJV]
The words of God have deeper meaning than the superficial glances we give them.
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: [Matthew 5:27 KJV]
Good advice. Great harm comes from breaking one’s marriage vows. Families are torn asunder and lives are impacted in succeeding generations. But it is done so very quickly without thought. I’m thinking of two celebrities this year whose infidelities not only have made national headlines in mainstream media, but have cost them millions of dollars in their divorces. They are but a couple among millions. Yet, Christ tells us there is much more than a physical infidelity.
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. [Matthew 5:28 KJV]
Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: [Matthew 5:33 KJV]
This one is so simple to understand. How can we swear to accomplish anything when our lives depend on so many variables outside our control? Christ not only confirms this, but gives examples of why our answers should be ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’
But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. [Matthew 5:34-37 KJV]
There is more. Much more, but I’ve reached my self-imposed size limitation. Take a bit of time and continue in this sermon. Truly, the words of God have meaning in our lives today.