“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell. “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. “Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one. (Matthew 5:21-37, NRSV)
Really Jesus, if my eye offends me pluck it out or if my hand offends me cut it off…
I guess none of us actually believe He meant this, or we don’t really follow it, or we are not honest. Becuase if we believed it and were honest there would be a lot of us without body parts, but I see no one walking around with one eye or missing hands.
So what does all of this mean? What is Jesus saying to us here?
Remember where this teaching falls, in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus tells us who is blessed, those who have been held down because of things out of their control, and those who look after them. Then He continued with telling the disciples you are the salt of the earth and the light to the world. You shine light on the darkness and bring to light things of God and you flavor the earth with the grace of God. And you do this by looking out for those who are held down in the blessings.
And here Jesus continues the look at who we as disciples should be.
We should not be angry with anyone because that draws away from the love that God has for all of us. [And a side note here, this is a scriptural reference for the passing of the peace in the ordo of service before we come to communion. “So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” Now, this talks about offering a gift but it is also good for when we come and get the Holy Supper. If you have an issue with a brother or sister go and make peace about it before you come to the Lord’s Table.] Anger also keeps us from seeing God’s love for ourselves.
Adultery is us focusing on our own needs instead of the needs of others, and what God is leading us to do.
All of these you have heard it was said help us to focus on God and others and not ourselves. Where is your focus, because the law is fulfilled in us loving God and our neighbor.
So how can we fulfill love?