From Matthew 5-6
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
In a previous post we learnt that in the Gospel Jesus is shown to fulfill Old Testament prophecies. Today the Gospel exhorts us to live as Jesus instructs us to. Jesus said;
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:17–20)
Augustine observed the ceremonial commands in the law were fulfilled by Jesus himself because they served to predict the Christ. For example, the levitical sacrifices pointed towards Christ’s sacrifice. The Hebrew passover commemorating the exodus from Egypt anticipated the passover of the new covenant sealed in Jesus’ blood. Therefore since Christ has come, these are no longer needed. What we recognise as the moral commands are fulfilled by Christ in that he gives his Spirit to his people. Through the Spirit God’s people to fulfill the righteous requirements of the law. Paul said Jesus died for us ‘in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit’. (Rom 8:4)
But Jesus’ point in this passage is that we are not to relax the moral commands of God. Jesus goes on and instructs his people in what he values is important.
21 “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. (Mt 5:21–26)
Jesus seems to take two positions into consideration. The angry person and their brother who has something against them. Jesus says ‘angry with his brother’. He has family relationships in mind. We can assume Jesus has the idea of ‘spiritual’ family in mind as well. Jesus warns, ‘everyone who is angry with his brother and insults his brother is liable to judgment and the council’.
What is the context of this anger?
1) The angry person is offering a gift at the altar,
To this person Jesus instructs;
2) that the angry person remember their brother has something against them,
3) that the angry person quickly go and be reconciled to their brother, and
4) because the brother who has something against them (their accuser) will take them to court and to judgment.
What does this anger look like?
I feel myself it is difficult not to be angry when some injustice has been done to myself or I perceive injustice happening to another. But on closer inspection I realise this may not the the angry person Jesus is targeting here.
Jesus is targeting a person who has sinned against their brother in thought and or in word (by having murderous thoughts or publicly insulting them) and in anger is refusing to reconcile with their brother, repenting, apologising, etc. He does not give the reason why this person is angry with their brother in the first place. Perhaps, it does not really matter. Its is wrong to murder. We may all agree on that. Jesus goes further, the intent and the insults leading to murder are wrong as well. Avoid these things.
One aspect about Jesus and the Gospel is that neither shy away from teaching, instructing and warning the people who want to learn. In this way the Gospel builds up and instructs those who are disciplined by it.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.