Epiphany 6 2019
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
February 16, 2020
Deuteronomy 30:15-20, 1 Corinthians 3:1-9, Matthew 5:21-37

 

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At Jesus’ baptism… Matthew 3:17 (ESV) 17 … a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” [1]

This is the answer.  What is the question?  The question is of cosmic significance.  The question is of eternal importance.  The question is, “Who is Jesus?”  The answer is that Jesus is the Son of God.  He is God in flesh.

“Who is Jesus?” is of great importance as we turn to our Gospel reading for today.  This reading follows directly after last weeks’ instructions about living as salt and light in the world.  This is further explanation of how you are to live and Jesus speaks with the authority of God.

Matthew 5:21-22 (ESV) 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old… 22 But I say to you ….[2] Jesus is speaking with authority.  He is adding to the Old Testament teachings.  You and I cannot add or subtract from scripture; we do not have the authority.  Jesus does.

We will look at three of the teachings this morning.  These are hard teachings.  These are teachings for which we want to look for loopholes to try to excuse our own behavior.  These are teachings for which we want to find ways to try to reduce Jesus’ authority. Don’t do that.  Jesus has the authority.  He is the Son of God.  You are not.

Matthew 5:21-22 (ESV) 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 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.[3] Jesus is teaching that murder goes beyond just the physical act of taking someone’s life.  Being angry and insulting is also unacceptable.

Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat can be a great way to keep up with what is going on with friends and family.  But they have also become a cesspool of anger and insults.  Reading the comments on various posts it is disheartening to see how angry and insulting people are to one another.  It is rare to see a civil disagreement.

I used to actively engage people I disagreed with on Facebook and Twitter and, try as I might to be civil, it too often would make me angry.  I would reply to a post or comment and then keep checking back to see if the other person responded so I respond again.  I’d think about it all the time.  It would make it hard to sleep.  Engaging like this was an opening for the devil to get me to be angry and insulting.  I try hard now, if I see someone on the internet that is wrong, to just walk away; to just let it be.  I have enough temptation to anger and insults.

Anger and insults are the work of the devil and they tear apart the fabric of families, churches, workplaces, classrooms, society.  If you are angry with or insulting to someone, repent and be reconciled.  Humble yourself and go to them and apologize for being angry and insulting. Ephesians 4:26-27 (ESV) 26 … do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.[4]

Matthew 5:27-28 (ESV) 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 lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. [5]

I have heard married men excuse their wandering eyes by saying, “Just because you’re not going to order doesn’t mean you can’t read the menu.”  Jesus says; don’t even look at the menu.  Faithfulness to your marriage is much deeper than your outward actions.  It begins in the heart.  It begins from childhood and adolescence.  It extends into marriage and until death.  In a culture where intimacy outside of marriage is the norm Jesus’ teachings are even more radical.

This is convicting law from Jesus. The temptation to lustful thoughts is deeply ingrained in you with original sin, and you live in a world of unlimited temptation.  In an era where it seemed that the culture may be making some progress against the exploitation of women by the rich and famous we are treated to a half-time show at the Super Bowl which conjured up images of a giant strip club.  So much for not objectifying women.

Access to pornography has exploded. Anybody of any age with a smart phone or a tablet or a computer can, in seconds, find online decadence worse than the most depraved deviant 20 years ago could ever hope to find.  You are called to sexually pure and decent living and the world is not going to help you resist the temptation to lust.

Jesus uses hyperbole to make His point. He talks about plucking out your eye or cutting off your hand to avoid sin.  He is exaggerating to make a point, but He is serious.  It would be better to enter the Kingdom of Heaven with one eye than to go the Hell.  Jesus calls us to avoid temptation to lust.  If there is something that triggers you to look at pornography, cut out the trigger.  Too often we want to flirt around the edges of lust thinking we can manage the temptation; but we cannot.

Matthew 5:31-32 (ESV) 31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. [6]

Marriage is God’s invention; God’s design.  Jesus is concerned about damaging relationships with anger and lust; marriage is a very special relationship invented by God Himself.  Matthew 19:5-6 (ESV) 5 [Jesus] said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”[7]

Jesus is addressing the issue of men being able to divorce their wives for any and every reason. And Jesus speaks clearly that it is wrong.  Marriage is designed by God for a lifetime; it is not something to be broken by people. Divorce is evil.  It is man tearing apart what God has put together. Now, as evil as divorce is, there are rare times when it is the lesser of two evils.  We indeed live in a broken world.  Lord, have mercy.

Jesus’ teaching about how to be salt and light is hard teaching; it is a high calling.  You must battle not only against physical violence and murder, but also battle against anger and insults.  Not only do you not have physical relations with someone other than your spouse, but also, do not even think about it.  Do not turn others into objects of your lust.  Marriage is sacred; it is holy, and it is to last until it is ended by death.

            You know you are unworthy.  You know you need Jesus.  Jesus knows your need and he is there for you.  He washes you with forgiveness in your baptism.  He pours out forgiveness on you in the words of absolution.  He feeds you forgiveness with His body and blood in Holy Communion.  You indeed are a redeemed child of God.  You are salt and light in the world even while you battle against sin and temptation. You have a heart problem, but Jesus gives you a new heart.

This is convicting law spoken by Jesus who is God in flesh.  He has the authority to give new teachings; new law.  And you learn from this that you are indeed incapable of being good enough. You learn that you need Jesus. This teaching calls you to holy living, but it also points you back to Matthew 5:3 (ESV) 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.[8] This teaching strips away any pretense of being good enough and leaves you as a beggar before the judgment seat of God.

You know from this teaching that you have a heart problem.  Matthew 15:19 (ESV) 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.[9]

You know you are unworthy.  You know you need Jesus.  Jesus knows your need and he is there for you.  He washes you with forgiveness in your baptism.  He pours out forgiveness on you in the words of absolution.  He feeds you forgiveness with His body and blood in Holy Communion.  You indeed are a redeemed child of God.  You are salt and light in the world even while you battle against sin and temptation. You have a heart problem, but Jesus gives you a new heart.  And so daily you repent and pray Psalm 51:10-12 (ESV) 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. [10]

Jesus is the Son of God.  He is God in flesh.  He is your Savior from sin.  He has authority to give new law and authority to forgive sins.  As a baptized child of God living as salt and light in the world, listen to Jesus.  Amen.

 


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[4]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[5]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[6]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[7]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[8]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[9]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[10]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

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