Judgement and Grace (A Sermon on Matthew 5:21-37)

“You have read that it was claimed, ‘You shall not commit adultery. ‘but I convey to you that everyone who looks at a girl lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your proper eye triggers you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it absent. It is better for you to eliminate 1 element of your entire body than for your complete entire body to be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-29)

Of course, we’ve reached the pointy conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, and in several means it is really hard to believe that this is the similar sermon that began with these an effusive outpouring of blessings:

· Blessed are the bad in spirit

· Blessed are the pure in coronary heart

· Blessed are the peacemakers

We begun on such a good be aware with Jesus, and then the blessings appear to give way to curses or types, and it receives worse – notably if you have been divorced:

“It has been explained, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife ought to give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that everyone who divorces his wife, besides for sexual immorality, tends to make her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced female commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31-32)

What do you do with that? Perfectly, we know what the church has traditionally performed with that. It has reviled and excluded divorced folks – forcing them out of the church or, at the pretty minimum, dealing with them like second class citizens. I should not say ‘them’, or study course. They deal with people like me as second-class Christians. Mene, mene, tekel and upharsin – we have been weighed in the equilibrium and found missing.

Of course, it all is dependent on which side of the ledger you stand. If you are one particular of the many church-goers who have a best relationship (or look to), this is a single of people pieces of Scripture which offers you a bit of a system from which you can glance down on the terrific unwashed, and the attractiveness of it is that it can be incredibly very clear on which facet of the ledger you stand in this occasion. Are you divorced or not? If so, fail. If not, nicely finished!

I bear in mind listening to a person say how his grandmother’s relationship had been “saved by her dying”. My grandparents had hated just about every other for several years, he stated, and she was constantly chatting about leaving him, but she in no way did. At the funeral everybody spoke about how the two experienced trapped it out through thick and slim and stayed in their for the prolonged term – a digital archetype of marital fidelity, while if she experienced bought up the guts to leave their relationship would have been regarded as an epic fall short! Which is how our culture continue to will work in several circumstances. I just failed to think it was how Jesus labored.

Thoughts you, when it will come to the warnings about lust and the connected sin of anger, I am starting up to sense a lot a lot more smug myself about which facet of that ledger I am on.

“I tell you that anybody who appears to be at a female lustfully has previously committed adultery with her in his coronary heart.” (Matthew 5:27)

Of course. There are a whole lot of persons out there like that – eaten by lust and the linked sins of the flesh! I you should not contain myself any more in that sorry league of the wonderful unwashed, and there is certainly a excellent motive for that. I am 58 (tomorrow). I’m aged!

For those people who have read through Plato’s Republic, you may well well don’t forget that it begins with Socrates on his way to the temple, speaking about the added benefits of old age – the chief of which is that you obtain on your own significantly introduced from the temptations of the flesh!

Oh… I remember when I was all of 18 yrs of age and the pastor of 1 of the church buildings I was attending then sat me down to counsel me above what was blocking the religious gifts from appropriately rising in me (the gift of tongues in unique). He seemed at me with searing eyes and requested me no matter whether I struggled with the temptation to lust, and he even questioned me about the ‘m’ word (masturbation).

I would like I could go back again now and glance straight back at him with the self esteem of another person who is his moral equivalent! In fact, I’m glad I can not go back, for the reason that in advance of he died, he confessed to a sequence of crimes of sexual abuse in opposition to little ones. I was never a person of his victims, but potentially I should really sense morally remarkable to him now?

And it’s the identical of class with anger.

“You have heard that it was reported to the people extended ago, ‘You shall not murder, and everyone who murders will be topic to judgment.’ But I convey to you that any individual who is offended with a brother or sister will be issue to judgment… And anybody who suggests, ‘You fool!’ will be in hazard of the fireplace of hell.” (Matthew 5:21,22)

I’ve been doing work my way by a relatively lengthy ebook of late by Professor Angela Duckworth, entitled “Grit”, in which the author attempts to evaluate the contribution individual ‘grittiness’ helps make to extensive phrase good results. ‘Grit’ is a incredibly American term, of course. We could like ‘determination’ or ‘stubbornness’, but you get the notion. At any charge, a person of the experiments she discusses tries to assess whether or not people get extra gritty as they got more mature, and there is evidently no evidence that they do. What the proof does suggest although is that as we get older, we get calmer.

So… yes, in spite of the reality that I nearly got into a fist battle with a team I observed in the outdated rectory this 7 days who were being there without having permission, I do discover that I am obtaining calmer as I get older (on most times, anyway) and I suspect most of us do.

It would seem to be a pretty divisive passage – this piece from the sermon on the mount. There would seem to be a stark division getting drawn involving the above-sexed and the underneath-sexed, concerning those who are rowdy and violent and these who are serene and serene, concerning the pillars of marital fidelity and the wreckages of family breakdown, amongst the righteous and the unrighteous. If you are outdated and calm and serene, the Church of Jesus Christ is waiting for you! If, on the other hand, you are youthful and in excess of-sexed and full of enthusiasm, give it a handful of a long time. We aren’t heading any where. Is that the information from today’s Gospel looking through? I don’t consider so.

As I say, how you come to feel about these teachings from Jesus will rely extremely a great deal on which side of the ledger you see you on, but I want to suggest to you that maybe, just perhaps, the full level of some of these teachings is that no person is on the right facet of the ledger.

“You have read that it was mentioned… ‘You shall not murder… But I tell you that anybody who is offended with a brother or sister will be topic to judgment… And any person who states, ‘You fool!’ will be in hazard of the hearth of hell.” (Matthew 5:21,22)

Does that kind of exhortation from Jesus really allow for us to stage the finger at an individual else? As I read 1 commentator say, “I preserve seriously very well to that commandment right until I get in the motor vehicle and generate to do the job”… “Idiot!”

Perhaps part of the place Jesus is building listed here is that anyone is guilty. We’re not all guilty of murder, actually, but we may well effectively have been offended enough at some point in our lives to have murdered someone. Potentially the real big difference involving the human being who murders and the human being who is murderously offended is just option?

And likewise, when it comes to lust. If you consider you are morally exceptional to other individuals due to the fact you’ve in no way committed adultery, have you ever really preferred to? Have you believed about it? Has it taken area in your coronary heart loads of times? Is the only difference among you and those people adulterers who you despise possibility?

I am not suggesting that Jesus is just not expressing that getting indignant and lustful is a lousy point. Anger and lust can be horribly destructive human feelings, but they are emotions that, at a single time or an additional, we all knowledge. Probably it really is time we recognised that we are actually in no way morally remarkable to all those for whom anger and lust become their undoing. Possibly, but for the Grace of God, there go we all!

It’s possible it truly is time we stopped emotion top-quality to the lustful and the rambunctious just mainly because we’re old. Possibly it really is time I stopped looking down on that pastor who was a pedophile? It’s possible it truly is time we realised that no a single is righteous – no, not a person!

And what about the prohibition in opposition to divorce? That looks obvious, is not it?

It is curious, I think, when you go through by present day Gospel in Matthew chapter 5 as a full, there are heaps of disturbing traces in it:

· “Any person who says, ‘You idiot!’ will be in risk of the hearth of hell” (vs. 22)

· If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it absent. It is better for you to lose one component of your physique than for your whole entire body to be thrown into hell.” (vs.29)

· And if your suitable hand triggers you to stumble, lower it off and throw it absent. It is better for you to drop a person aspect of your human body than for your whole overall body to go into hell. (vs.30)

I will not imagine at any place in the very last 2000 a long time has the church ever taken any of these statements from Jesus literally. For some reason even though, the snippet about divorce and remarriage has repeatedly been taken totally pretty much as an everlasting command from Jesus, forbidding divorce below any instances and forbidding those people who are divorced from at any time re-partnering. That is not the Lord Jesus I know.

I do not consider you have to be as well outstanding a scholar to operate out what is likely on listed here:

“It has been explained, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife should give her a certification of divorce’, but I notify you that any one who divorces his wife, apart from for sexual immorality, would make her the sufferer of adultery, and any person who marries a divorced lady commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31-32)

Yes, it would seem that a regulation that was at first built to enable people make a changeover in scenarios of marital breakdown had become a tool of oppression utilized by gentlemen (precisely) to retire companions who no for a longer period suited them for the sake of an improve. Jesus is only contacting a spade a spade – declaring that adultery is adultery, no matter of regardless of whether you can produce a certificate to reputable it.

I really don’t assume I will need to say much more on that, but what I think we really require to see is the broad way in which Jesus, who ‘did not arrive to abolish the legislation but to fulfill it’ (Matthew 5:17), reinterprets these ancient legal guidelines of God to make them applicable to the people He is working with. His aim, I imagine, is not to divide people into the righteous and the unrighteous, any much more than it is to penalize people who fall short in their marriages. The intention, I would counsel is merely to very clear the route for like.

If you’ve go through the Gospel tales, you know that there were being definitely only two teams of folks that Jesus at any time took challenge with, and it was not the weak and the sinful. It was – the quite loaded and the incredibly religious. His problem right here is with the quite religious, and the way the regulation of God can be utilized and abused to block the route to like. When it will come to how we are to treat the weak and the sinful, Jesus’ command is obvious:

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7)

Initially preached by Father Dave Smith, at Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill, on Sunday the 16th of February, 2020.

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