Tooting your Giving Horn

The principle of 6:1 is now fleshed out for “almsgiving” — the Jewish practice of compassion on the poor and needy. After the Temple was destroyed, almsgiving was sometimes depicted as a replacement for sacrifices. The word for “almsgiving” in Hebrew is a near-equivalent to “righteousness”: the transition from 6:1 to 6:2 then is verbal [Read More…]

No Footprints

Matthew 6:1 is the theme verse for Matthew 6:2-18. In fact, 6:1 is the principle and 6:2-18 contains three examples. What we find in 6:1 pertains to giving, to praying, and to fasting. The theme or the principle of 6:1 is simple, simple, simple: [Read more…]

Loving the Other-ed One

Way back in November, I shut down a series on the Sermon on the Mount to get ready for Advent and Christmas. Today I want to resume that series. Today we look at Matthew 5:43-48. Most know this passage as the “love your enemies” passage. Good term, but the “enemy” is almost surely the “Gentile” [Read More…]

Pacifism instead of Revenge

Here it is: in Matt 5:38-42 Jesus summons those who want to follow him to a radical way of life. They are to avoid, at all costs, seeking revenge. Jesus sets it up by quoting Exod 21:24 (or its other citations) — eye for an eye text, and flat-out challenges its applicability for his followers [Read More…]

Being honest

One of my children was in the habit, as a child, of saying this: “I mean it.” When challenged a little more: “I really mean it.” And when a little more: “I really, really mean it.” Which means, when saying “I mean it” it was not fully meant. Jesus summoned those who wanted to follow [Read More…]

Taking a stand for marriage

For me, the most important thing about a happy marriage is that husbands and wives be best friends — with no serious rival to that friendship. Kris and I have been married for 32 years; we were grade school sweethearts and we started “officially” dating when we were sophomores in high school, and we are [Read More…]

Taking a stand for fidelity

As Jesus revealed that murder begins with anger, and that murder is expressed in anger, labeling, and damning, so Jesus contends in his summons for others to follow him that adultery, too, is a matter of the heart. The physical desire of another by a married person is adultery. There is no reason to play [Read More…]

Redefining Murder, Advocating Reconciliation

Jesus redefined murder: if murder was defined in the Torah as we do most of the time (taking another person’s life), Jesus boosted it. For Jesus, “murder” includes anger and labeling and damning others. But, this text cannot be applied simply as it is. [Read more…]

Surpassing whom? or what? and when?

An alarming statement by Jesus: “Unless your righteousness/justice greatly surpasses the righteousness/justice of the Scribes and Pharisees, you will never ever enter into the Kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:20). Does Jesus really think his followers are to be “better” than the Scribes and Pharisees? I think so. This surely would have shocked his followers. [Read more…]

Do we follow the Torah?

Not according to Jesus, but this all hangs on what “follow” means. In the passage we need to look at today, Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus makes an astounding claim. He did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them. In brief, Jesus is saying that the Torah and the Prophets were [Read More…]