Online Sunday School. The Gospel of Matthew, God With Us, Chapters 5-7.The Sermon on the Mount, You have heard it was said, but I say to you. Kerygma materials Chapter 5

Jesus says ““Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” Jesus continues with a series of examples, saying ““You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times ,  . . . But I say to you. . . ” In doing this Jesus again calls his followers to a higher level of righteousness. Matthew 5, 21.

 

““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 Gehenna (the trash dump in Jerusalem where bodies were burned, often translated “hell”.) 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.”

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with desire [often translated “lust”] has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40 and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; 41 and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 

  1. Jesus’ call to higher righteousness concerns not just the “big stuff”, such as murder, adultery, not following through on oaths, excessive revenge, hating the wrong people, but underlying “small stuff”, anger and insult, desire, oaths that intrude on God’s sovereignty, any revenge, any hatred. A recently popularized term is “micro-aggressions,” small stuff that is part of big stuff; often subtle, perhaps unrecognized verbal or conduct attacks particularly against people in less powerful social groups. Jesus challenges our tolerance of small wrongs that are inherently similar to big wrongs.

 

  1. Anger, insult and retaliation are seen by many as how best to get along, avoid being taken advantage of by others, and advance yourself. Kennedy famously said “Don’t get mad, get even.” Others have said, “don’t go to bed angry.” Jesus calls on us to reconcile with those we have disputes with. Do you agree? Is this true all of the time or just some of the time, i.e. in abuse situations where people have unequal power to reach fair reconciliations? To many “turning the other cheek” means inviting, perhaps enabling abuse to continue. What are your thoughts?

 

  1. Jesus’ thoughts on divorce are particularly challenging to today’s Christians. Our churches, Bible studies and pulpits are full of divorced people, including “conservative” churches and churches whose leadership condemns divorce. Consider these.

 

  1. Read Leviticus 24, 1-4, thought to be the Old Testament passage Jesus refers to, as well as the practice of his time interpreting this passage. What are your thoughts about this? Read also surrounding material for context.
  2. Review the various marriage, sexual and courtship norms found in the various societies of the Old Testament. These societies were patriarchal to the extent that women were tied to the economy through their husbands and male relatives, and without them widows and their children could be destitute. Recall the Book of Ruth for example. In the Old Testament adultery meant an act a man with the wife of another man (see Leviticus 20).
  3. Consider the marriage, sexual and courtship norms found in our society, and in various parts of it. Society’s laws about this have changed considerably in our time, as has much accumulated wisdom on the subject of marriage. While women today remain paid less than men, they have more power and independence than they did in Biblical times. Sexual assault and domestic violence are less accepted but remain serious issues. Something like half of all marriages end in divorce, a number of people avoid marriage altogether or delay it for various reasons. Same sex relationships and marriages are challenging for churches and others.  How many of us know people for whom a second or later marriage is the one that meets our expectations?  How do economic and social situations work for or against having marriages work?
  4. Read Mark 10: 1-10, dealing with the same subject. “Jesus said to [the Pharisees], “Because of your hardness of heart [Moses] wrote this commandment for you. 6But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.’ 7 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
  5. How do you think God wants people to live concerning marriage? Does Mark convince you? Is the patriarchy of Biblical society what God wants for us? Is it compatible with higher righteousness? How is “hardness of heart” a factor in marriage? What is “higher righteousness” in this context?

 

  1. What are your thoughts about resisting evildoers and loving your enemies? Can you really love your enemies? Nazis, ISIS and al Qaeda, oppressive police or abusive partners or coworkers or employers? How do you love them? When do you “enable” them by not resisting them? Are there powerful evildoers like Hitler and others against whom violent resistance is necessary? Gandhi and MLK have suggested ways to resist evil but which also resist hatred, dehumanization and becoming that which you fight against. These have had some limited success but and even more limited popularity. Are violence and hatred more successful, more satisfying or both? Do war and violence do more harm than good? Are any wars really just, and if so, why? To what extent are all people, including you, capable of good and evil? Pogo said “we have met the enemy and he is us.” What gets between you and higher righteousness?

 

  1. Jesus concludes this section of the Sermon on the Mount with “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The term perfect suggests something that seems impossible for humans, so why bother thinking about it? Can seeking perfection only lead to an emotional state of failure? The Greek term in question also translates “complete” or “mature,” suggesting a difficult but achievable state. How can you achieve completeness as a Christian?

One Response to “Online Sunday School. The Gospel of Matthew, God With Us, Chapters 5-7.The Sermon on the Mount, You have heard it was said, but I say to you. Kerygma materials Chapter 5”

  1. Junior says:

    Nice choice of verses and context to use in our day, so truthful, we do have a lot of people suffered and are suffering bad marriages. Some divorce is not the Christians fault at all, good Christian people; Ministers, Decans, Pastors, Bishops, congregants have suffered from it.

    I know personally of several Ministers that no longer minister because they taught 2 Timothy for years and now, they are a victim of what they taught all them years. Sad that these men will not see that letter for what it really is and get up and move on.

    Can seeking perfection only lead to an emotional state of failure?

    If we take this as a Pentecostal Denominational statement as stated in many of their podiums — You know it does. I lived as a Charismatic for 5 years, it is a big trap, you can never live it good enough. As soon as you commit the first sin, you are hell bound and going to burn unless you get back into Church and quit sinning or (sin).

    Seeking perfection as growing up and becoming an adult could mean; get ready to go beyond elementary teachings, get ready to handle it (things outside of your circle of understanding).

    How can you achieve completeness as a Christian?

    It is clearly not works oriented as a lot take it to be, but would mean to me; Obtain better understanding, get Logic, develop critical thinking and use it.

Leave a Reply