A Study of Matthew | Chapter 5
In Chapter 5 we begin to hear the authority of Christ.
Verses 1-12 Jesus was on a hillside near Capernaum and this sermon probably lasted a few days. The focus was formed around righteousness and the Kingdom of Heaven. In Christ we are made righteous and are representatives of the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus is showing us what that looks like here on earth. This is more than a code of ethics, but proof that the Kingdom is real and lives on earth within us as followers of Christ. The word blessed used here is different from the common old testament work “Barak” which means “honor.” Jesus used the word “Makarios” which means happy. The word heaven in verse 3 is the word “ouranos” which is more thought of as the earthly heavens. In the OT, “poor” often forced a person to a state of humbleness. Money was seen in the Jewish culture as the only sign of blessings. Jesus wants us to be blessed in himself not just money. Mourning took place a lot in the OT because of Israel turning from God. The nation as a whole kept falling. Jesus came to bring mercy and grace, which would bring comfort through the Holy Spirit. Humble in verse 5 means gentle in spirit. The Jewish people flaunted pride in their positions and as Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.” Jesus was gentle in spirit in his day-to-day. He did have moments of anger shown in a righteous way, but generally he was gentle and not boastful. Verse 6 says thirst for “justice” or “righteousness.” This is a hunger for all things being how God would want them. We can’t be dependent on our earthly government to define what is right and just. Jesus said we should work for peace. The Jewish leaders wanted to overthrow the Roman government through force. The Kingdom of Heaven works from the inside out not the outside in. Those who are persecuted has to keep God’s words on their minds and hearts. He will always guide us right so even when Jesus was persecuted and the disciples were persecuted for doing right, the culture of the Kingdom of Heaven radiated through their decisions. Jesus tells us to be very glad and happy when we are persecuted because there will be a reward for us in heaven. We don’t know what that reward looks like, but it is something to remember if we get to a life and death situation. There are many forms of persecution on earth. It is more than just physical abuse or death. This also includes mental and socially. We are also told later that these trials build character in us.
Verses 13-16 Salt has a few important qualities we should remember. 1) Salt adds flavor and brings out natural flavor out of the food it is placed on. 2) It is an important preservative. If a salt loses its flavor it is useless. If we walk around the earth our whole life and no one ever senses a different flavor from the way we live then we have lost our saltiness. As we are the body of Christ and we are ambassadors of the Kingdom of Heaven, we are a city on a hill. We reflect Christ who was the light of the world as he said in John 8:12. When others see our light through our good deeds, those who are impacted will be likely to praise God for it.
Verses 17-20 In the OT there were 3 different types of law, which were ceremonial, civil, and moral. The ceremonial law was is no longer needed because those were pointing to the coming of Christ and he fulfilled them. The importance behind them still stands, which is to love and honor God. The civil law was given to make sure God’s people did not engage in the cultural norms of the people surrounding them. Jesus demonstrated these by the way he lived. The moral law was that given to Moses, which includes the 10 commandments. Jesus never broke any of the moral laws as well. Jesus wanted to show us the reason behind the law not just the law itself. Understanding and obeying was the main goal God wanted for the Israelites to live out their lives.
Verses 21-30 Jesus is explaining in these next ideas of anger and adultery, that the heart of a person is what makes them guilty before they even commit the crime or breaking God’s law. Jesus talks about hell and here is what some think it is referring to aside from eternal damnation.
Hell is the place of the future punishment called "Gehenna" or "Gehenna of fire". This was originally the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned; a fit symbol of the wicked and their future destruction.
Jesus talks about handling our anger toward one another. Later Jesus tells us the 2 most important commandments are to love God and one another. It makes sense that Jesus would tell us to handle our differences before offering sacrifices to God. It also helps us keep a clean and pure heart. Adultery starts in the heart, so it is better for us to get rid of the delivery device of temptation which can be environment, things we hear, and/or things we see. Jesus uses extreme measures to prevent sin because he hates it that much. Over time people become so casual, not realizing it has foreseen and unforeseen effects. When we get sinful thoughts we need to immediately cast the out and focus on the truth of Christ.
Verses 31-37 Looking back from the very beginning there was no divorce. As sin came into our world the worst thing between any couple was infidelity. This is the one area God was saddened the most throughout the OT was Israel’s affair with sin. This is the one area Jesus gives permission for divorce. The word used here for fornication or infidelity is porneia, which is where the word porn comes from, and it refers to the physical and the spiritual. When Jesus told the men not to divorce his wife except for unfaithfulness or she would commit adultery, he was telling them not to divorce someone for anything other than because it was not important enough. This is followed by telling people not to make vows. Marriage is a vow between man, woman, and God. Aside from that there should be no other vows because our word should be enough. Throughout the OT a person’s word was serious, look at Isaac’s blessing on Jacob as an example. As we are made in the image of God, and he is faithful to his word, we too should always be faithful to our word.
Verses 38-48 The law given to the judges of Israel was to make the punishment fit the crime. Eye for an eye was not given to individuals as they did not judge anyone officially. People were never meant to give vengeance for a crime, but the judges were. Throughout time people started using this for their own revenge and Jesus gave them a command of mercy just as God chose to have on us. The Jewish leaders did not like this because it didn’t match their expectations of the coming messiah. They wanted forceful takeover, but the way Jesus was communicating didn’t match their desires. Jesus says “you have heard the law that says, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” The law never says that. The leaders assumed love your neighbor automatically gave the opposite approach toward their enemy. When Jesus says you are to be perfect just as your father is, he used the word “teleios”, which means complete or finished. Our love needs to be complete not just partial.