The Weekend Word
33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’
Wow, you would think that taking an oath and standing by the oath would be a good thing.
34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,
- But Jesus said; do not take an oath in the first place.
- Heaven or earth or Jerusalem is all the same as invoking God’s name.
- This is not to a specific commandment, but could be tied to the 2nd “not taking the Lord’s name in vain.”
- The understanding here is that in this culture, there had developed a grand system of elaborate ranking of oaths by their Validity and Binding.
- What was the highest you swore on as a kid?
35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
- All of these include “I swear on my grandmother’s grave.”
- What are you going to swear by that matters or that you have control of?
36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.
- You can’t even swear by yourself as you have no control over yourself.
37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.
- Have the reputation where your YES or NO are believed.
- As disciples of Jesus, we are not to use words lightly.
** Jesus continues his authoritative exposition of the divine intent of the Torah ***
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
- This is not punitive, but is the proper limitation of punishment.
- If you do something the proper action should be equal – not “you poked out an eye, I am going to cut your head off.”
- It was meant to be the Biblical admonition = just penalties and recompense.
- What was happening was everything was turning into keeping score – tit for tat – Do unto others before they can do it to you
- LXX Exodus 21:24 = eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
- Lev 24:20 = “bruise for bruise, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as any one may inflict a blemish on a man, so shall it be rendered to him.
- ”Deut 19:21 = “And the rest shall hear and fear, and do no more according to this evil thing in the midst of you. Thine eye shall not spare him: thou shalt exact life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”
- Retaliation = Revenge
39 But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
- This is personal to the person and not in the civil realm.
- Societies & Governments need to live by the law or they invite chaos.
- This goes to the doctrine of the 2 kingdoms.
40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.
41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
- These 23 verses contain one thought.
- Instead of a spirit of grudging recompense and quick revenge – Jesus calls us to lives of reckless generosity and naiveté.
- If we are to err, it should be on the side of not retaliating, But yielding – of giving or being taken advantage of.
- But Luther also warned – “Christ is not telling me to give what I have to any scoundrel that comes along and to deprive my family of its or others who may need it and whom I am obliged to help, and then to suffer want myself and become a burden to others.”
- He is not saying that we should give and lend to everyone, but “to him who begs from us.”, that is the one who really needs it.”
What about your attitude towards your Enemies?
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
- So why be good? It looks like God hands out his goodies to all equally.
- Now understand that my objection comes as a true baby boomer, who expects things to be fair.
46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
- A great statement of the law – left by itself.
- How does it sound if I send you out of here with just that message?
- But in reality, this is gospel in that the only way we can get this perfection, is that Jesus gives us His perfection in the Great Exchange.