St Bride's: A Point Of View

The offering of life

Matthew 5:21-26

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21 Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.

26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

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Today we are still in the section of Matthew known as 'The sermon on the Mount'.

The earlier section known as the Beatitudes or Blessed sayings are about The Kingdom and all form part of Jesus' teaching his followers. The section last week was the teaching Jesus gave specifically to his disciples. It was designed to encourage and to challenge them.  

As we continue the reading from Matthew chapter 5 today, one of the Choir suggested I entitle today's address 'Sermon on the Mount part 2.'

Today is the collection of sayings which start 'You have heard it said - but I say to you' these sayings all about 'treating others as brothers and sisters'.

In the way that Jesus often took the sayings of the Old Testament and made them new and relevant for his followers. So we too, must take the words of Jesus and make them relevant for us today, and in our lives.

For Example, in the second half of verse 22, we heard in the reading 'whoever calls his brother a fool shall be in danger of hellfire'. We might hear this as Hell. In fact Jesus was referring to a place called "Gehenna". The valley was used as a place where rubbish was burnt.

So Jesus is referring to this place in terms of relationships. For us to be of worth, to be valuable and not to be discarded like refuse, we need to regard others, our community, as valuable as well. To have regard and a healthy respect of and for othersand that we should not even think of others as 'fools'.

So throughout this section the theme is 'respect' - to respect others and to see that all people have worth.Possibly something for the Church of England synodical debate  on sexuality!

This is what in fact God is saying to us and how He regards us His example. That example being  the offering of his own Son.  

Jesus was offered for us because God reckoned that we were, and are 'of worth', and worth it. 'While we were yet sinners' writes St Paul in his Letter to The Romans, 'Christ died for us' (Chapter 5 vs 8).

The second aspect of the reading today  is instruction of how we ought to live and work with others.

If there are breakdowns, if there is dissension and argument with resentment, then there is always an urgency for these things to be attended to.
 

It was God who initiated and enabled us to get back to him through Jesus, so not only are all Christians called to take the initiative in getting things together, but it should be done immediately, without delay.

Again, it is St Paul who reminds us, this time in his letter to the Ephesians when he writes, 'Do not let the sun go down on your wrath.  For who knows what tomorrow might bring?

We often joke and make light about putting things off.  After all 'why do today what I can put off until tomorrow' or 'tomorrow, I must stop procrastinating'.

In my experience I have found this to be especially true when it comes to patching up difficulties in relationships.

So here we have Jesus teaching about relationships and, within that context, getting right with God. It is enabling and restoring,  renewing and refreshing.

Throughout this chapter and the verses that follow Jesus continues to say 'you have heard it said - But I say to you'.

He urges his hearers, The Gospel urges the readers and hearers today, to look to these lessons and to seek always to restore, to change our attitudes, and to think on all aspects of our relationships to and with others.

And if this sounds like a call to renewal - then that is what it probably is. And it needs our constant attention - over and over again.                      

AMEN

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