Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Gospel Text for Sunday, February 13, 2011

Matthew 5:21-37

Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, `You shall not murder'; and `whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, `You fool,' you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

"You have heard that it was said, `You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.

"It was also said, `Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

"Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, `You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.' But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be `Yes, Yes' or `No, No'; anything more than this comes from the evil one.


  1. Jesus fulfills the law, in fact, he moves beyond and transcends the law. He demands more than submission to the letter of the law, he calls for transformation – all the way in and all the way out. Jesus deepens the laws that are essential to a life of righteousness – murder and lust - and he dismisses those laws that are not essential – elaborate rituals for swearing oaths, purification. Essentially Jesus is saying, it is what’s inside you that really matters – not external shows of religiosity. No wonder Jesus was not very popular among the religious officials who were exceedingly concerned with appearances.

    And so Jesus boldly challenged the law – “You have heard it said you shall not murder,….but I say to you…if you are angry with a brother or sister, insult them…. even call them a fool…you will be liable.” Long before the murderer murders there are insults and thoughts of condemnation in her mind and anger and unsatisfied desires in her heart. Jesus is saying, “Get to the root of evil. Change your mind. Change your heart, then change your behavior.” Anyone who has ever pulled weeds knows, you must remove the root to eliminate the weed.

    It is not sufficient to come to church on Sunday morning, confess your sins and ask for God’s forgiveness. Stop. Examine your self. Ask, what has gone on in my mind and my heart that led me to murder, adultery, swearing false oaths? How have I tried to satisfy my basic needs for safety and security, for affection and esteem, and for power and control by exerting power over others? Admit your offense, amend your ways and pray for the strength to be sustained in a new and transformed life. Please visit
    for more about getting to the root!

  2. I love Matthew. Of all the Gospels, I think Matthew has the most in depth renditions of Christ's story. It's like the Garden of Life. Murder (and other sins) can plant so many bad seeds in our Garden. It's only when we realize that only Christ can take care of the weed removal.