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The first week is done!✅




How is your reading going?  I hope you have settled into a routine and are enjoying Matthew. 

 

Before I get into the parables today, in my own reading of chapter 13, I wanted to share something I learned this past week that is found in the sermon on the mount (Ch. 5). It never ceases to amaze me that I can keep learning new things each time I read the New Testament!

 

This is about a 5-minute read.

 

I was listening to a Bible teacher who pointed out that in chapter five Jesus is clarifying Old Testament law, not creating new standards.  To see how he clarifies, you need to keep Matthew 23:23 in mind.  He is telling the Pharisees that they lost focus on what truly matters in the law. “For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.”

 

Now keeping those three matters in mind, Jesus picked a few Old Testament commands to clarify the weightier matters.  In regards to justice, he uses the commands about murder and adultery.  In regards to faithful (being a man of integrity), he uses the points on marriage and oaths. As far as mercy, he uses the example of going above what is required and loving your enemy.  I highly recommend you hear the lecture, I found it very insightful!

 

One point in particular stood out to me, because of the pro-life stance that I hold, was the clarification to justice when Jesus starts with, “You have heard it said to those of old, “You shall not murder…But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matt.5:21-22).

 

What is objectionable to murder?  Some would say that it is taking a human life and human life is sacred because it was made in the image of God. In fact, the pro-life movement uses “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday” in January to highlight their cause and fight for life.

 

Well, this is the new thing I learned this week….. 

 

While it is true that we are made in the image of God, that is not why killing is wrong!  God condones killing (capital punishment) in around 30 situations in the Old Testament and it is condoned in the New Testament (Romans 1 & 13:1-4 and Acts 25:10-11) as well. So, it can’t be simply stated that “taking a human life is wrong”.

 

Have you ever heard pro-choice people say that pro-life people are inconsistent?  “You say you are pro-life because you don’t want to see the fetus destroyed but you are in favor of capital punishment- which is killing people, so you are inconsistent”.

 

There is a difference between capital punishment and murder. This week I got clarity on how to articulate the difference.

 

The teacher I was listening to gave this suggestion.  Perhaps Christians should use the term “Pro-justice” verses “Pro-life”.   Oooooh, I like that!!!  There is no justice in killing innocent lives in the womb, but there is justice in punishing a criminal.

 

The guiding principle Jesus was illustrating was that of justice. Now, keep that in mind when you read the next part when Jesus says, “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of the judgement” (Matt. 5:22). It is not justice to be angry without a cause. 

Do you see how Jesus is not changing the law at all,….just bringing it back to what it originally was, an issue of justice?  Use justice as the filter when reading about saying someone has an empty head. Clearly, everyone has something in their head.  To say they don’t is unjust. As you are on the way to court, when you have done something unjust, you better fix it or, you will be thrown into prison.  (Notice in the example given, you are the one in the wrong when taking your adversary to court. vs. 25).

 

I loved the teacher's insight for Matt. 5:21-30, reading it through the lens of justice.  I also love that I am now equipped to articulate an answer to anyone who accuses me of being inconsistent in my convictions between murder and capital punishment.  I am not necessarily pro-life as much as I am pro-justice. That’s what Jesus taught and I am sticking with him!!




 

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