On Sundays 14th and 21st May, our sermons will deal with two of the major themes that run through Matthew 5:17-48. As we’re tackling this large section on just two sermons, we won’t deal in detail with every paragraph. Therefore, to attempt to cover at least some of the gaps, there are/will be give short blog posts that will make a few comments on each passage and provide some questions for application. This is the second post.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, 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. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, 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. (Matt. 5:27-30 NIV)
The second target in Jesus’ sights is lust and adultery. Again, Jesus states how this issue was handled in the Old Testament (v27, cf. Exodus 20:14).
For Jesus followers though, the surface issue of committing adultery is not all there is to it. It is a heart issue (end v28). The distinctiveness of Jesus followers is not found in the fact that they don’t sleep around or have affairs – it is found in the fact that they treat the opposite sex with honour and respect.
- Men: what aspects of lustfulness are you struggling with? Pornography? A wandering eye?
- Women: what does lust look and feel like for you? Do you find yourself coveting someone (even if the reason is not down to their physical appearance)?
- How does following Jesus statement make for distinctive disciples? How are vv27-30 different from the world’s way of doing things?
“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matt. 5:31-32 NIV)
Third on Jesus’ hitlist is the issue of divorce. This section is shorter than the does and doesn’t follow the same pattern. But it is very interesting that this small section comes in between the verses on adultery and oaths. Those who divorce their spouse break their oaths (their marriage vows) and cause them to commit adultery.
Pastoral note: Obviously, divorce is a very sensitive issue. Jesus does not go into great detail here about the ins and outs. But he is clear that there are some (but not many!) acceptable grounds for divorce.