“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgement. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement.” Matthew [5:21]-22
We all know murder is wrong, right? That’s a given. But is being angry with someone wrong? In this segment of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is speaking out against legalistic religion which the Pharisees and scribes taught regularly. These religious elites took a very literal approach to living out God’s commandments.
Now, some feel like Jesus was raising the bar that was set by the Law when he taught on anger, adultery, oaths, etc. But the bar was already there. He was simply teaching it the way God originally intended it to be understood and practiced. Jesus wants us to know that it’s not just our actions that matter—our motives are important, too.
Jesus was also making sure that everyone, including the Pharisees, understood that their works fell short of God’s requirement for righteous living. Even the religious superiors were in need of a Savior.
Jesus communicated that the Gospel was for all people and accessible to all people. Living a righteous life is not about the keeping of rules for the rules’ sake, but about honoring God’s ways out of love for Him. These aren’t just rules for living right, but rules for loving right.
Father, help me to recognize that I fall short of your righteousness, and I need Jesus as much as anyone else. Help me to honor your Word out of love and reverence for your glory. Amen.
For Further Reading