Over the next several days we will see how Jesus challenges the Pharisaic interpretations of the Old Testament with his own. Whose would you want to follow? The Pharisees interpretation or Jesus’?
They focused on external behaviour but he focused on an inner interpretation.
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. (Matthew 5 v 21-22)
Let me give an interpretation of some of the words:
Murder – is the premeditated and deliberate attack.
Anger – What Jesus challenges is the hypocrisy of feeling proud that you haven’t committed physical murder but you have ruined the reputation of someone by stabbing them in their back.
Raca – meaning empty-headed. Stripping away a fellow disciple’s identity through defamation.
Fool – a word meaning contempt, viewing a fellow disciple as less than they really are.
Fire of hell – Gehenna, west and south-west of Jerusalem where the rubbish was continually burning, a place where its history was shameful (known for child sacrifice and judgment)
The children’s song isn’t true is it?
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”
They do hurt. They can injure for a long time. It ruins our self-confidence. It can destroy an individual. But those who condemn will be condemned.
Here is a prayer for anyone battling with anger today. I hope it helps.
This life has heartache, betrayals and failures, grief and loss so deep so hurtful that it feels like an illness than an emotion. All around me are deceitfulness and lies, abuse and mistrust, stories of the wounding of people and riding roughshod over the weak so that the powerful become more powerful.
In their trails lay broken hearts and a pain never known unless you experience it.
This has the potential to destroy me. To make me no more. To remove me. I feel its power. It wants to change my vocabulary. It feeds me words that I have never used. It taunts me, laughs at me, sneers and all the time tempts me to explode with new wicked words that will only backfire to cause more destruction.
How do I get rid of the raging war in my soul? How do I get rid of the anger of the injustice done to me and to others?
Do I hope it isn’t there in the morning? Do I think you will take it from me?
I make that commitment today to choose to bless others. Even those who don’t know what they are doing to me.
I bless them. I want them to be happy. I pray for their well-being. I think of them not as my enemies but as my friends. I don’t have to hold their hands but I hold my hands up for them. Bless them my Father. As I see your goodness and grace fall on them and as I see heaven open over their lives I commit to smiling at them. I smile through the tears. Bless them Father, Bless them Jesus, Bless them Holy Spirit.
I choose to bless until peace arrives again. Quietness will come after the pain. I bless to get to the stillness of the soul.