You say, but I say


Have you ever read Matthew chapter 5? I’m talking about reading past the Beatitudes (which are no less awesome and amazing) and starting at verse 21.

Jesus goes into the “You have heard it said, but I say” section that is truly mind blowing.

He is basically saying that we have been home-schooled in the wrong home. We think with the mind of the world, the enemy, and then He proceeds to shred every bit of human wisdom and reasoning, replacing it with truth.

Let me back up a bit. Proverbs 14:12 says:

There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.

The way that seems right to a man is human wisdom, human reasoning, and human logic. Three things that desperately attempt to undermine the truth of God’s Word, and lead us down the path of destruction.

Think about it. When we hear a story of two people torturing and beating a 3 year old boy to death, we immediately get angry. There’s no way around it. That is a heart-breaking story full of loss and pain that most of us can’t even fathom. I read so many comments on Facebook from people, who say they are Christians, talking about what they thought would be a fair punishment. Death penalty. They need to be tortured themselves. Someone should forget the judicial system and kill them both. Things like that.

It breaks my heart.

Those comments sound normal. Even to other Christians, they sound like valid suggestions, especially the death penalty idea.

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

Wait. What?

That’s completely opposite of how we want to react. Those people deserve to be punished.

If we want what we deserve, we can all go to Hell. 

We deserve eternity in the fiery pit. If Jesus thought like we do, He would have never died on the Cross.

Human reasoning would have said “But wait, I haven’t done anything wrong. I did nothing but help these people. I healed them. I fed them. I spent time with them when no one else would. You know what, I don’t deserve to be treated this way. Look, Father. I’m done with these people. They don’t deserve my innocent blood. They have completely rejected me in every way possible. Wait, what are they yelling out? Are they saying Barabbas? Barabbas??? Are you serious??? You have GOT to be kidding me! Come on! I’m done. I’m outta here. Beam me back up.”

Can you imagine those words not only coming out of the mouth of Jesus, but even running thorough His mind?

Of course not. It sounds absurd.

Another comparison can be found in John 20:16-18, which says:

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

Jesus is alive. Mary sees Him, and didn’t even know who He was at first. Look very carefully at what He says. “Go to My brethren.”

Wow.

He could have said “Go tell those knuckle heads, who are all in hiding, that you have seen me, and where I’m going now.”

The disciples deserted Him, betrayed Him, and didn’t believe Him, yet He still referred to them as His brothers. To me, that is a big deal.

How do we act towards people who do those very same things to us?

It’s easy to love those who love us right back. The key to living like Jesus is to also love our enemies.

No matter what situation or circumstances we find ourselves in, let’s follow the letters in red. We can’t go wrong with those.

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11 thoughts on “You say, but I say

  1. We actually just talked about these versus in our small group. It’s amazing to think how Jesus was addressing the people of that time, yet everything still applies to us today. The world isn’t so different and Jesus is unchanging!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, as a Pastor – I had to chuckle at the thoughts and words you wrote regarding if Jesus were to react to the cries of the crowd in a earthly way! That was funny.

    On a more serious note – great words again. People want to claim that life is NOT fair. I tell you, it is MORE than fair when you consider what our eternity could be were it not for the sacrifice of Jesus!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 is greatness. On the surface, it would seem to imply total pacifism. If you are slapped on one cheek give them the other. But this means not retaliate when someone delivers you an insult (Romans 12:17-21). Insults do not threaten a Christian’s personal safety. The idea of returning an insult for insult, is not the same as defending oneself against a rapist, a molester or someone that wants to kill you or a loved one. We are to preserve life. The use of physical force to protect or defend another is not an alternative but a command. Ecclesiastes even offers a time for hate and war. I agree with your thoughts. Forgiveness and turning the other cheek is what sets Christians apart from the rest. But the comment about a strong conviction towards children molested at the hands of evil struck a cord with me. And I don’t think my reaction to that kind of evil is contrary to what Christ would have me think. However, I also believe, that whatever we do to stop an evil body on earth from continuing to hurt others or to be punished for hurting another, only God alone may judge a soul.

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  4. Hi,
    It might be good to remember that the ‘Eye for an Eye’ idea is given to us by God in his word. The original idea was that the punishment should fit the crime. It was to guide judicial proceedings, not personal revenge. This is the issue that Jesus was correcting. Our Lord Jesus was not overthrowing the law or the courts; rather he was letting people like us know that we are not to be vigilantes. We are not to take the law into our own hands, as the zealots of his day were in the practice of doing. As to whether capital punishment is appropriate in the New Testament setting or not, Paul seems to say that it is (Romans 13). The governments that exist, exist by his will and they do not hold the sword in vain, but for the punishment of evil doers. Again, it is a judicial setting. The rightness of capital punishment is see most clearing at the cross of Jesus Christ. Jesus died for his people (ratbags though they are) so that they and only they might escape what all people deserve. On the great day of Judgment to come, the full force of God’s good law will come upon all who are not found in Christ. A most sobering thought, but our God is just as well as merciful. The one who saves will also be the one who condemns on that day (Matthew 7:21-23 & 25:41).

    all the best

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  5. Woooooow! This is amazing and so true. My biggest heartache is striving to be more like Jesus every day, but knowing every day I will fall short. You completely blew me away, even already knowing the truths you speak of. Timing is everything, and I feel I needed to see this now for a reason. Thank you for allowing Him to work through you.

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  6. The Sermon on My Mound was one of the most breath taking moments in history I believe! It’s not believing in God people grapple with, but following his commandments for our well being, as you so admirably pointed out here: to love our neighbors as we would love ourselves, and to love God with all our minds, all our hearts and all our strength. Yet those of little faith can’t see God through Hubble, and therefore believe He is not there. One of my favorite scriptures is as follows:

    2 Timothy 3:1-7

    3 But know this, that in the last days+ critical times hard to deal with will be here. 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, 3 having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, 4 betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, 5 having an appearance of godliness but proving false to its power;+ and from these turn away. 6 From among these arise men who slyly work their way into households and captivate weak women loaded down with sins, led by various desires, 7 always learning and yet never able to come to an accurate knowledge of truth.

    Is this not what we see today?

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