Matthew 5:21-26 - (Jesus said) "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny."
Jesus really keeps us on our toes in Matthew 5. After His wilderness temptation, He hit the road, calling His first disciples and announcing the Good News. Along the way, He was healing the sick, casting out demons, and fast earning a reputation as the One to watch. "And great crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan" (Matthew 4:25).
In Matthew 5, Jesus heads up the side of a mountain and has what appears to be a "cabinet meeting" with His disciples. "Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when He sat down, His disciples came to Him" (Matthew 5:1), to listen to Him. After pronouncing the Beatitudes, those familiar "Blessed-are" one-liners, He moves on to other matters: salt and light, His coming to fulfill the Law, and then some of the more weighty matters of living in a sin-fallen world.
And wouldn't you know it—anger is at the top of the list.
After referring to God's Old Testament Law (the Fifth Commandment) and how it's unlawful to murder, He destroys any notion we might have of harboring anger or thinking it is somehow less potent than the real act of killing someone. It's one and the same, and Jesus has come to dispense with all of it. He shows us He is the end of the Law. "You have heard that it was said," He told the crowd, pointing to God's Commandment as given to Moses, "But I say to you" He then said, declaring His authority over all things (see Matthew 28:18).
To this, the writer of the book of Hebrews gives a hearty "Amen!": "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the Name He has inherited is more excellent than theirs" (Hebrews 1:1-4).
This then is Jesus—the One who fulfilled the Law for us and paid the price for our sins, and calls us to the mountain to listen to Him.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, we bow before Your Son, our Lord and Savior. In His Name we pray. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Paul Schreiber.
1. Have you ever reconciled with someone after a significant difference or argument? Was that a difficult process?
2. How is it that Jesus can actually equate anger with the act of murder?
3. Have you ever held a grudge or refused forgiveness to someone for a long period of time? Has that issue been resolved or just swept under the carpet?
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