February 19, 2023

Doing Reconciliation Right

Doing Reconciliation Right

Reconciliation done right  (Matt 5:21-24)

  • The context here in this passage is part of Jesus’ sermon on the Mount.
    • The sermon on the Mount really sets the stage for the rest of Jesus’ ministry.
    • In the sermon on the Mount Jesus takes the law and the Commandments and elevates them to heart issues.
    • The law was external to us and was open to abuse and misuse, misunderstanding.
  • But Jesus will now take these “law issues” and make them matters of the heart, internal.
  • Verse 21 Starting in this verse Jesus begins to deal with the issue of murder and the underlying cause of murder.
  • In the first phrase, Jesus is asking his audience to remember the Ten Commandments.
  • Jesus also remind His audience of the consequences, judgement.
  • This is where Jesus begins to make the distinguish between the new redemptive era and the old.
    • A penalty for murder was not include in the Torah.
    • But rather the judgment Jesus mentions here, refers to the local court system.
    • In the Jewish system a local court of twenty-three members adjudicated series crimes like murder.

Verse 22 Murder was just surface level or symptomatic of a deeper issue.

  • The Greek word for anger used here anger refers to brooding/simmering inner anger.
  • Whereas the other Greek word for anger refers to anger that flares.
  • The punishment or judgement seems to escalate, but the crime doesn’t seem to follow the escalation.
    • Here it is the judgment is from the Sanhedrin. The YLT & NASB translations picks up on this
  • Jesus is stating that saying “Raca” to you brother or sister is worthy of higher-level judgement than murder.
  • What is this word, Raca?
  • It was an Aramaic word used to insult a person. Often translated as idiot or empty-headed fool.
  • The word really means empty, or foolish. Most lexicons define it as empty.
  • Then the progression in the verse continues and increases.
  • Now rather than just being subject to the Sanhedrin, you are subject to hell.
  • The NIV translate it as “the fire of hell” The YLT translation says, shall be in danger of the Gehenna of the fire.
  • In the Greek the word Gehenna is in there.
  • It refers to the Hinnom valley where in ancient times human sacrifices were offered to the pagan god Molech, and where in Jesus’ day garbage was burned night and day.
  • The wording here seems to have emphasis. Because the word fire is also there after the word Gehenna.
  • You could really translate this as, “you are in danger of fire and nasty fire.”
  • But this time it was for if you said you “fool”
  • So what is this word? It is the Greek word mo-ros’
  • It means: dull, stupid, foolish
  • This is where things get interesting. Because this word doesn’t seem any worse than the previous word Raca.
  • But the judgment seems to be worse.
  • The fool in Hebrew thought was not the intellectually incompetent but the person who is morally deficient. The kind of person who lived as if there was no God.
  • So, Jesus is saying here, we cannot judge where someone stands with God.
  • If we use this word or concept moros we are standing in judgement on their faith, and only God can do that.

Verse 23 Jesus now shifts gears rather dramatically, and puts this in the context of religion and the practice of faith.

  • Someone travels to the Temple with an animal for sacrifice. The expression of faith and worship in their day.
  • The altar mentioned here is the sacrificial Altar in the inner court of the Temple.
  • The way this is structured, it is the other person who is angry with you.
    • Jesus went from telling people to be careful with the anger in their own heart.
    • To take the initiative if you know someone else is angry with you.

Verse 24 Jesus now gives us some very specific directives for what to do if this happens.

  • The Greek grammar here for the verb “leave” is an imperative.
    • This is a command; we must do this.
    • We must leave and go to the other person. Acton is required.
  • Even if you are not the guilty one, you are to take the initiative.
  • Then, the grammatical structure is also ongoing on the part of the one leaving.
    • So we must continue to pursue this until reconciliation is achieved.