Sunday, July 12, 2015

Jesus said, "You have Heard the Law that Says... But I Say..."

Jesus told passage below to his disciples
You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.’ But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been faithful, causes her to commit adultery. You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the LORD.’ But I say, do not make any vows!... Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.
You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also… You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbour’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.
(Matthew 5:31-34, 37-39, 43-45,

Three times in passage above I read of Jesus stating, “You have heard the law that says.” In each case, Jesus repeated the common understanding of one of God’s laws and then showed how it had been distorted by widespread misinterpretation. The laws for divorce had gradually been reshaped into a freewheeling policy in which men could obtain divorce on a whim. In other settings (see Matthew 19:1-9), Jesus referred to the origin of marriage in the Garden and the designed lifelong nature of the relationship. Marriage, like everything else in creation, was marred by the fall of humanity. While stating what the law allowed due to the sins of people, Jesus still maintained the value of commitment in marriage. Although unfaithfulness might be a reason for a divorce, the damage of adultery also could be repaired with genuine repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

A person’s plainspoken “yes” or “no” ought to be as dependable as any elaborate vow. If someone can’t depend on our word, a vow does not increase our integrity. Jesus also rejected the idea that offenses of any kind must be retaliated. He showed his followers a radical alternative: going the second mile, turning the other cheek, loving one’s enemies. The idea of loving enemies goes against common sense. Jesus knew that common sense may cause us to respond contrary to God’s heart in a matter.

Think about this: Jesus must have had a twinkle in his eye when he pointed out that God “sends rain on the just and the unjust alike,” thereby sparing a lot of us from a good deal of embarrassment. Few of us can escape the reality of today’s passage (passage above). Jesus exposes the raw edge of many lives. His words uncover what we might try to keep hidden. Do this – Before the Lord, examine yourself to see if you have applying the law to the lives of others while exempting yourself from God’s call to deep personal integrity.

Thank Lord Jesus for his continual mercy,
and ask for his power to heal your own attitudes and actions.

Reference: Life Application Study Bible Devotional: Daily Wisdom from the Life of Jesus (Tynadale House Publishers, Inc., 2011).

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