Jesus Speaks About Murder, Adultery and Divorce
The Jewish crowd who listened to Jesus’ sermons knew that murder was very wrong. They had grown up with the Law. Murder or killing was forbidden by God throughout Scripture. One of the Ten Commandments is God’s command not to kill. But Jesus carried this command not to kill a step further.
Jesus told the people to be forgiving and peaceable and quickly settle disagreements before they got out of hand and before people got hurt. He commanded His followers not to call their enemies bad names or become unduly angry. Jesus knew that name calling and fights and hatreds could eventually lead to warring and killing and murder. He is calling His people to live in peace and stop any mean spiritedness before it grows into explosive anger and innocent people get killed.
These are Jesus’ words. “You have heard, “Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. “ (Matthew 5:23-24) Jesus went on to say that when we stir up anger by calling another person a “fool” or any other bad name, we will be judged. He urged us to be forgiving and quickly reconcile and make peace with the “enemy” who has something against us, otherwise things can get much worse.
These are Jesus’ words. “If you are offering your gift at the altar and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. Fist go and be reconciled to your brother: then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24) God planned for us to be part of loving communities and close families. When people disagree and harden their hearts against one another, the family or the community can be harmed or broken and this breaks Gods’ heart. Our heavenly Father places the job of healing a rift or making up with a brother or sister ahead of coming to Him and bringing our offerings.
Of course there are some problems that are almost impossible to resolve without Gods’ intervention. And Gods’ children are not being commanded to go along with evil plans in order to keep the peace. But we as Christians are to do everything we can do to make peace if possible, in our families, our communities and in our country. Scripture says: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)
Next Jesus spoke about adultery. These are His words. “You have heard that it was said, “Do not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-30)
Jesus not only taught that small insults and arguments can grow into large hatreds and killings, but also that secretly lusting after a person sexually can lead to open adultery. Jesus is pointing out that first there is the hidden sinful thought that is entertained and played with inside the mind and heart before it grows and moves outside into the sinful action of the actual murder or the blatant adultery.
Jesus is calling us to stop the evil process when it first gets started in our hearts. To guard our very thoughts and feelings, don’t let them grow and multiply. Pray for His help and it will be given. Jesus doesn’t just want us to follow Him with our outward actions. But He wants us to follow Him with our hearts and minds and emotions! He wants it all!
I do not believe that Jesus was telling his followers to actually gouge out their eyes or to cut off their hands if they lusted or sinned. Jesus was a great story teller and sometimes to get a point across He used metaphors. I think He was making the point that there are lines that we should never cross and places that we should never go. And adultery is one of those places. We should never play around with breaking up another person’s marriage. And murder is a crime so unthinkable that we cut off the possibility of such an action and gouge out any such idea from our thinking.
If we belong to Christ, then our eyes and our hands, our thoughts and our actions also belong to Him. Scripture says that our lives are not our own, we are bought with a price. (the blood of Jesus) (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) Scripture also says: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. And we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” ( 2 Corinthians 10:5) Even our thoughts belong to Him!
Jesus went on to speak about divorce. Let’s listen. “It has been said, Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce. But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries her commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31-32) It seems that Jesus is saying that marriage and family are all important to God and should not be dissolved except for extreme circumstances.