by Tony Nester

Leaving Anger Behind Us
Tony Nester
Matthew 5:21-26

(Matthew 5:21-26 NRSV) ""You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, 'You shall not murder'; and 'whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.' {22} 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. {23} So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, {24} leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. {25} 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. {26} Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny."

"But I say" — with these three words Jesus announces his intention to revolutionize the way we think about morality.

Last week we looked at Jesus' demand that we go beyond the limits of other people's righteousness. Now we begin to see what this kind of righteousness looks like in detail.

We start with human anger and Jesus' demand that we leave it behind us.

Jesus quotes from the Ten Commandments: "You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13). The commandment doesn't say, "You shall not kill"; but it does forbid the taking of life without a justifiable cause. The penalty for murder was death (Exodus 21:12).

With his "But I say to you" Jesus and extends the law beyond the limits of normal righteousness. "If you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment."

Jesus isn't condemning us for having angry feelings. The Bible isn't much concerned with our feelings; the Bible is very concerned with what we do with our feelings. It's normal to ...

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