Harvest Family Fellowship Sermons 2020 January & February
Life According to Jesus pt 6
Today we are in the sixth message of a series called Life According to Jesus
In this message series we are taking a look at what Jesus says about how to live our lives
We are doing this by taking a look at the fundamental teaching of Jesus found in what we know as the Sermon on the Mount
We find the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew in chapters 5, 6, & 7
At the end of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said if we put His words into practice, when we get hit by the storms of life we will stand firm like a house built on the rock
However, if we do not put His words into practice, then when the storms of life came along we would crash like a house built on sand
Since Jesus was pretty clear on this fact we are going take a look at the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount
Today we are continuing in Matthew chapter 5 verse 21
Matthew 5:21-26 "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. 23 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. 25 "Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
There are some great things being said here, however before we get into the core of our message I want to take a brief side journey into something we need to know if we want to study the Scriptures
You’ve heard me mention many times that the Bible was not written in English
Most people know this, yet we still tend to read it as if it were a modern document written in our native language
The New Testament was written primarily in Greek
A few things we need to remember about Koine, or ancient Greek
1 - There were no punctuation marks
2 - There were no spaces between the words
3 - There were no chapter numbers, verse numbers, or section headings
Ok, so big deal - what does that mean for us?
Imagine how difficult it would be to read a document where there were no punctuation marks or spaces between words
There would be times when you wouldn’t know where one word ended and another began
You wouldn't always know where a sentence was supposed to end and another was supposed to begin
The absence of punctuation marks would also make understanding the message difficult at times
Let’s eat Bob
Let’s eat, Bob
Since we rely heavily on punctuation and spaces between words this means that when a Bible translator is going from Greek to English they sometimes have to make their best guess as to what is being said
Something else that we often rely on today when reading the Bible are the chapter, verse, and section divisions
These divisions were not part of the original writings, they were added centuries later
The Bible is inspired, but chapter, verse, and section divisions are not
I am dividing this sermon series up largely by section divisions
Today's passage is in my NIV Bible under the section of “Murder”
It would be very easy to look at this section of Scripture as a stand alone passage, but that would be a big mistake
This section of Scripture flows naturally with what comes before it, and it is in that light that we need to look at it
I preached on the section of Scripture just before this passage last week
If you missed that message you can find it on our website as well as our youtube channel
Anyway, last week we talked about how Jesus said He didn’t come to abolish, or do away with the law, He came to fulfill it
Right after that Jesus reminded His listeners that their righteousness needed to be greater than that of the religious leaders who followed the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law
Jesus then goes right into our passage for today with these words:
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago …”
Here’s what Jesus is referring to
Most people in the first century couldn’t read, and even those that could didn’t have books
In fact, books did not exist at that point in history, most everything was written on scrolls
Bound books as we know them didn’t appear for a few hundred more years
We also need to remember that the printing press was not invented until around 1440, so any book or scroll produced or copied before then was done by hand
This made scrolls and books incredibly valuable
No one but the most wealthy people would be able to afford to have a copy of the Hebrew Scriptures
So, how did people learn about the Scriptures?
They went to the local synagogue, which would have had anything from a few scrolls to the entire law and prophets
The scroll for the day was taken out of its container and carried around the congregation where the people would often dance and worship
Then a chosen person would read a portion of Scripture out loud, after which the men present would discuss the meaning
So, virtually all Scripture learning came from hearing the Scriptures read aloud in the synagogue, and then having public discussion where anyone could participate
So, when Jesus says “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago …” - they literally had heard it!
So, what did they hear?
"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.'
This is one of the 10 Commandments - literally every Jewish person listening to Jesus would have known this
22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.
What does “Raca” mean?
It was a derogatory expression meaning “empty-headed,” meaning a person is stupid or inferior.
It was an offensive name used to show utter contempt for another person.
So, what’s going on here? This sounds a little extreme!
In the previous verse Jesus said “you have heard it was said” and then quoted the Law
Now Jesus is saying “but I tell you …” meaning that Jesus is putting His teaching above that of the Law
He is not abolishing the law, He’s taking it a step further
Remember that Jesus just got finished telling His listeners that their righteousness needed to exceed that of the religious leaders
As I said before, the religious leaders would follow the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law
The letter of the law said “don’t murder” so they wouldn’t murder
But that didn’t stop them from hating or showing utter contempt for another person
Jesus is saying that you shouldn’t just stop short of murdering someone, you should never get near even the thought of wishing that someone was dead
Yes, we all get angry, sometimes rightfully so
However what we do with our anger is where the problems come in
I don’t have to like everyone, but I do need to love them like I love myself
Side note - Jesus even took it one step further in John 13:34 where He says “As I have loved you, so you should love one another”
I can’t love someone like Jesus loves us and act in anger towards them
Hating anyone is not an option
I don’t have to like them, I don’t have to agree with them, I don’t have to spend time with them, but I should never act in any way that shows anything close to hate
No name calling, no reputation bashing, nothing of the sort
Jesus then goes on to give 2 examples of how we should live this out
The first is in verse 23:
"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
Jesus is saying that even if you were in the synagogue or the temple getting ready to make an offering - something that they would have considered a very important religious obligation - and while you are doing that remember that someone has something against you, leave you gift and go make it right with them
Notice Jesus says “your brother has something against you” - you may not have an issue with them, but they have an issue with you
You have not attempted to make things right
Maybe you think you have good reasons for it
Maybe you don’t think you did anything wrong or that they are overreacting
Whatever the reason, Jesus is saying that before you participate in this very important religious obligation, go make things right with your brother, then come back and fulfill your religious obligation
The second example is found in verse 25:
Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
Why would someone take you to court?
Because there is an issue that the two of you are unable to resolve
There are valid reasons to go to court, but how many times do people end up in court because they are too stubborn or angry to compromise?
I see this all the time with divorces or custody agreements
“They hurt me, so I am going to hurt them!” - Yeah, real Christlike!
Jesus is saying that we should love the other person enough to be willing to work things out before it gets bad enough that a lawsuit is filed
I’m not saying we need to be a doormat and concede everything, but at least be willing to make reasonable compromise
Bathe the situation in prayer and ask God what He wants you to do, then do it!
Here is what I think the gist of this passage is:
Don’t hate, or hold utter contempt for anyone
Hate and contempt have no place in the life of a Christian
This is not always easy, and there will be times that we will fail
But our goal should be to not allow hate or contempt of any form to enter our life
This should be especially remembered as we are in an election year!