The Sermon on the Mount: pt 5, Christ's Law on Anger

by Steve Reynolds  /  Matthew 5:21-26  /  February 14, 2016

When I was around 5 years old, I would constantly attempt to prove that I was bigger than I looked. Two of my neighbors were high school students; one day, they were playing basketball, and I thought it was a good idea to go over and pester them. In the course of this encounter, however, the tables were turned, and I became the butt of the joke. At this point, I had a choice of whether to back away or to fire back with some sort of insult; of course, I chose to insult. I knew that my parents had forbid me to ever say a curse word, so I decided to spell out a curse word at my neighbors instead of out-right saying it. So I let them have it, spelling out dirty words of insult. And later that night, by some unexpected outcome, I found myself in the kitchen of my house with a bar of soap between my teeth. I couldn’t understand it; I hadn’t said the curse word, but was still being punished as if I had. Something I didn’t realize: there is such thing as breaking the meaning or the heart of a rule which is just as bad as breaking the literal nature of the rule. The people of God had been given over 600 laws in the Old Testament, and there were groups walking around saying, “I got this! I never break the Law!” But they have missed something. Namely, that the Law was never simply about outward action but was about an inward reality. In Psalm 51:6, it is said of God, “Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart”; and God had told his people in Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Obedience to God is an inward thing. Jesus will focus on this for the rest of chapter 5; we will see him say, “You have heard it said” (in the Law), “but I tell you” several times. Today is the first of these. Today, we will see that Jesus applies this to the Law against murder. And from this text we will learn that followers of Jesus must reject a murderous, angry heart.