Week of September 8 - Day 3

Day 3 Read: 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.’ 22 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. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 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. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. 

Reflect: How did Jesus’ reinterpretation differ from the teaching of the Pharisees? How did this raise expectations for His followers?

Consider: The command, Do not murder, comes straight from the Ten Commandments (Exod. 20:13). But from Jesus’ contrasting clarification, we can surmise that the scribes and Pharisees limited their interpretation of murder to its most literal meaning—wrongly taking a human life. Jesus broadened their understanding of murder to include wrongful anger that might, in some cases, lead to literal murder. He included cutting, harmful words that can kill a person’s spirit. To call a brother Raca (“empty-headed”) was to cross the boundary. Essentially, Jesus instructed his kingdom servants to value every aspect of another person’s well-being, and to treat each person in keeping with this valuation.[1]

Respond: Do you equate murder with anger as Jesus does, or do you think He is being extreme? Explain your thoughts. What does anger do to our relationship with those we are angry with? What does it do to our relationship with God?

[1]  Stuart K. Weber, Matthew, vol. 1, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 66–67.