We move on in readings from the Sermon on the Mount and today look at Matthew Chapter 5 verses 31 to 37, which covers 2 sections as we continue to look at Jesus’ application of the OT Law.
The previous 2, concerning murder and adultery, have been examples of where Jesus has widened or perhaps deepened the restriction which was the interpretation being applied by the Scribes and the Pharisees of the time.
The next one concerning divorce (vs.31-32) is an example of a divine permission in the OT (Deuteronomy Ch.24 vs.1-4), where God allowed divorce under certain circumstances. However, the Scribes and Pharisees of the time were trying to give a loose interpretation and widen those circumstances, but Jesus here restricts it to just the instance of marital unfaithfulness, and states that remarriage after a divorce for other reasons is actually adultery. Ouch! This apparently was a hot topic of the time (as it is today) and Jesus’ teaching is further expanded later in Matthew’s Gospel, Ch.19 vs.1-12. And of course, behind it all Jesus is upholding lifelong marriage as God’s ideal plan for family life, even in the midst of human frailty and sinfulness. I realise that a lot more could be said on this topic, and today I don’t have the time or space to do that, but do ask me if you want to chat more.
And then the 2nd section (vs.33-37) speaks about oaths, and the breaking and keeping of them. Apparently there were different words or formulae which were used at the time when vows were made, and the chief focus became on the wording of the vows. But what Jesus is saying is that the words of the formulae are irrelevant and the key is that people mean the words they say, that indeed their “yes” means yes and their “no” means no, that their words and promises are trustworthy. When I worked in London back in the day, one of the phrases used was “my word is my bond”, and sometimes the basis of million pound deals were done on the back of an envelope or a piece of pink blotting paper, to be precise!!In many features of life and relationships today, people simply change their mind too quickly and don’t carry out what they said they would do. As followers of Jesus may our “yes” be yes and our “no” be no, and that our words are trustworthy.
From our church address list, let us remember in our prayers today,- Sharon & George- Roger, Sue and Daniel