28/09/2023

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Judgement and Grace (A Sermon on Matthew 5:21-37)

Judgement and Grace (A Sermon on Matthew 5:21-37)

“You have heard that it was claimed, ‘You shall not dedicate adultery. ‘but I tell you that any individual who seems to be at a woman lustfully has already dedicated adultery with her in his coronary heart. If your correct eye triggers you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to drop one component of your human body than for your total overall body to be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-29)

Of course, we have reached the pointy conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, and in lots of ways it really is hard to think that this is the similar sermon that started with these kinds of an effusive outpouring of blessings:

· Blessed are the lousy in spirit

· Blessed are the pure in coronary heart

· Blessed are the peacemakers

We started out on these types of a optimistic note with Jesus, and then the blessings seem to give way to curses or kinds, and it will get worse – especially if you have been divorced:

“It has been reported, ‘Anyone who divorces his spouse must give her a certification of divorce.’ But I inform you that any one who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the target of adultery, and everyone who marries a divorced female commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31-32)

What do you do with that? Properly, we know what the church has historically carried out with that. It has reviled and excluded divorced individuals – forcing them out of the church or, at the really least, treating them like next class citizens. I should not say ‘them’, or system. They handle persons like me as second-class Christians. Mene, mene, tekel and upharsin – we have been weighed in the balance and observed missing.

Of training course, it all relies upon on which facet of the ledger you stand. If you’re a single of the a lot of church-goers who have a excellent relationship (or seem to), this is 1 of those people items of Scripture which presents you a little bit of a platform from which you can search down on the excellent unwashed, and the elegance of it is that it is really incredibly clear on which aspect of the ledger you stand in this occasion. Are you divorced or not? If so, fail. If not, perfectly done!

I don’t forget hearing somebody say how his grandmother’s marriage had been “saved by her demise”. My grandparents had hated just about every other for years, he stated, and she was always speaking about leaving him, but she under no circumstances did. At the funeral every person spoke about how the two experienced stuck it out through thick and thin and stayed in their for the extensive phrase – a digital archetype of marital fidelity, while if she had got up the guts to go away their relationship would have been considered an epic are unsuccessful! That’s how our culture continue to will work in several occasions. I just failed to consider it was how Jesus worked.

Brain you, when it will come to the warnings about lust and the connected sin of anger, I’m starting off to sense a ton more smug myself about which facet of that ledger I’m on.

“I explain to you that any person who looks at a woman lustfully has previously fully commited adultery with her in his coronary heart.” (Matthew 5:27)

Of course. There are a whole lot of individuals out there like that – consumed by lust and the affiliated sins of the flesh! I never include things like myself any longer in that sorry league of the excellent unwashed, and there’s a excellent cause for that. I am 58 (tomorrow). I’m old!

For these who have go through Plato’s Republic, you could well don’t forget that it starts with Socrates on his way to the temple, conversing about the rewards of aged age – the main of which is that you obtain you significantly unveiled from the temptations of the flesh!

Oh… I remember when I was all of 18 several years of age and the pastor of a person of the church buildings I was attending then sat me down to counsel me more than what was blocking the spiritual items from correctly rising in me (the reward of tongues in unique). He appeared at me with searing eyes and requested me whether or not I struggled with the temptation to lust, and he even questioned me about the ‘m’ word (masturbation).

I would like I could go back again now and seem straight again at him with the confidence of another person who is his moral equal! Truly, I’m happy I can’t go back again, since right before he died, he confessed to a sequence of crimes of sexual abuse from kids. I was hardly ever one particular of his victims, but most likely I really should really feel morally excellent to him now?

And it truly is the same of system with anger.

“You have listened to that it was reported to the folks lengthy ago, ‘You shall not murder, and any one who murders will be topic to judgment.’ But I explain to you that any individual who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment… And everyone who states, ‘You idiot!’ will be in risk of the fire of hell.” (Matthew 5:21,22)

I have been doing the job my way by way of a alternatively prolonged book of late by Professor Angela Duckworth, entitled “Grit”, in which the author attempts to evaluate the contribution personal ‘grittiness’ will make to lengthy term achievement. ‘Grit’ is a really American phrase, of class. We may favor ‘determination’ or ‘stubbornness’, but you get the notion. At any level, 1 of the scientific tests she discusses attempts to evaluate whether or not people today get extra gritty as they acquired more mature, and there is apparently no evidence that they do. What the proof does counsel however is that as we get older, we get calmer.

So… sure, regardless of the truth that I almost obtained into a fist battle with a team I uncovered in the old rectory this week who have been there without the need of permission, I do locate that I am having calmer as I get older (on most times, in any case) and I suspect most of us do.

It appears to be to be a very divisive passage – this piece from the sermon on the mount. There would seem to be a stark division becoming drawn concerning the about-sexed and the under-sexed, involving those people who are rowdy and violent and those who are calm and serene, involving the pillars of marital fidelity and the wreckages of family members breakdown, involving the righteous and the unrighteous. If you are old and serene and serene, the Church of Jesus Christ is waiting around for you! If, on the other hand, you are young and about-sexed and whole of enthusiasm, give it a handful of decades. We aren’t likely anywhere. Is that the information from present-day Gospel looking at? I never assume so.

As I say, how you come to feel about these teachings from Jesus will count quite considerably on which aspect of the ledger you see on your own on, but I want to recommend to you that maybe, just possibly, the total stage of some of these teachings is that no person is on the correct facet of the ledger.

“You have heard that it was explained… ‘You shall not murder… But I explain to you that any one who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment… And everyone who claims, ‘You fool!’ will be in threat of the fireplace of hell.” (Matthew 5:21,22)

Does that type of exhortation from Jesus seriously let us to level the finger at anyone else? As I read one commentator say, “I hold truly properly to that commandment right up until I get in the car and push to work”… “Fool!”

Most likely element of the place Jesus is building listed here is that absolutely everyone is guilty. We are not all responsible of murder, practically, but we may perhaps well have been angry enough at some position in our lives to have murdered someone. Probably the actual change in between the individual who murders and the man or woman who is murderously indignant is just option?

And also, when it will come to lust. If you think you happen to be morally superior to other men and women since you have hardly ever dedicated adultery, have you at any time really wanted to? Have you thought about it? Has it taken spot in your coronary heart a great deal of times? Is the only difference in between you and all those adulterers who you despise chance?

I am not suggesting that Jesus isn’t declaring that getting offended and lustful is a lousy issue. Anger and lust can be horribly destructive human thoughts, but they are emotions that, at 1 time or a further, we all practical experience. Possibly it can be time we recognised that we are definitely in no way morally superior to people for whom anger and lust turn out to be their undoing. It’s possible, but for the Grace of God, there go we all!

Maybe it is really time we stopped experience superior to the lustful and the rambunctious just simply because we’re previous. Possibly it’s time I stopped hunting down on that pastor who was a pedophile? Possibly it’s time we realised that no a single is righteous – no, not a person!

And what about the prohibition in opposition to divorce? That seems obvious, isn’t really it?

It is curious, I consider, when you study via modern Gospel in Matthew chapter 5 as a total, there are lots of disturbing traces in it:

· “Anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in risk of the fire of hell” (vs. 22)

· If your appropriate eye brings about you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is superior for you to lose one particular part of your body than for your complete body to be thrown into hell.” (vs.29)

· And if your right hand brings about you to stumble, slash it off and throw it away. It is much better for you to reduce a single component of your physique than for your total body to go into hell. (vs.30)

I will not believe at any position in the last 2000 yrs has the church at any time taken any of these statements from Jesus pretty much. For some explanation though, the snippet about divorce and remarriage has repeatedly been taken completely basically as an eternal command from Jesus, forbidding divorce below any conditions and forbidding individuals who are divorced from at any time re-partnering. That is not the Lord Jesus I know.

I you should not imagine you have to be much too fantastic a scholar to operate out what is likely on in this article:

“It has been stated, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce’, but I notify you that any individual who divorces his wife, apart from for sexual immorality, will make her the target of adultery, and any individual who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31-32)

Indeed, it appears to be that a legislation that was originally built to help people make a changeover in cases of marital breakdown had develop into a device of oppression utilized by gentlemen (especially) to retire companions who no more time suited them for the sake of an update. Jesus is only contacting a spade a spade – saying that adultery is adultery, no matter of no matter whether you can develop a certificate to authentic it.

I really don’t feel I will need to say much more on that, but what I believe that we definitely need to see is the broad way in which Jesus, who ‘did not occur to abolish the law but to fulfill it’ (Matthew 5:17), reinterprets these historical rules of God to make them related to the men and women He is working with. His aim, I feel, is not to divide people today into the righteous and the unrighteous, any additional than it is to penalize all those who fail in their marriages. The intention, I would suggest is basically to obvious the route for love.

If you’ve go through the Gospel tales, you know that there ended up seriously only two teams of men and women that Jesus at any time took situation with, and it wasn’t the weak and the sinful. It was – the very loaded and the pretty religious. His problem in this article is with the pretty religious, and the way the legislation of God can be utilised and abused to block the path to love. When it arrives to how we are to handle the weak and the sinful, Jesus’ command is obvious:

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be demonstrated mercy” (Matthew 5:7)

Initially preached by Father Dave Smith, at Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill, on Sunday the 16th of February, 2020.