Sunday 16 February: Matthew 5:21-26 Matthew 5:21-265:21 'You have heard how it was said to our ancestors, You shall not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. 5:22 But I say this to you, anyone who is angry with a brother will answer for it before the court; anyone who calls a brother "Fool" will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and anyone who calls him "Traitor" will answer for it in hell fire. 5:23 So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,5:24 leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering. 5:25 Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison.5:26 In truth I tell you, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny. Context This text is part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ maiden speech in Matthew’s Gospel.Jesus explains what Law and Prophets mean for him; how he interprets the religious tradition. InformationThe commandment ‘you shall not kill’ can be found in Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 05:17. The death punishment is mentioned in Exodus 21:12: ‘Anyone who by violence causes a death must be put to death.’ According to Jesus calling somebody names is basically the same crime: I make life impossible for him/her. The first name is a Hebrew word: ‘Raka!’ Means ‘nitwit!’ The second name is ‘moron’, the opposite of ‘wise’. In the Biblical tradition ‘wisdom’ is the ability to connect God’s Law with every aspect in life. So calling another ‘moron’ means that he/she is godless. The Greek word for ‘hell’ (vs.22) is a Hebrew word: ‘Gehenna’. It was the name of a very dry valley in the south-west of Jerusalem. In former times child offerings took place there. For that reason the prophet Jeremiah had cursed that valley (32:35; 07:31-34; 19:6). That place became a symbol of definite doom. Reconciliation is more important than offerings (vss.23-24). Twice in Matthew’s Gospel Jesus says (9:13; 12:7): ‘Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice!’ Picture Meditation In the centre of the top line: the head of Jesus. He speaks the words illustrated in the following scenes. Left in the top line: ‘...if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court.’ Right: ‘...anyone who is angry with a brother will answer for it before the court.’ Did I experience such a situation? As a perpetrator? As the victim? Are Jesus’ words helpful? Left in the middle line: ‘and anyone who calls him "Traitor" will answer for it in hell fire.’ The hell fire is in the right corner. In the centre: ‘...leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering.’ Did I ever practise that? The bottom line is an illustration of the verses 25-26. The man (me?) who was going to court with his opponent ends up in prison. Apparently the counter claim of the accused one against me was much heavier than my claim against him. Elsewhere Jesus says: ‘Don’t judge, and you will not be judged.’ Am I someone who is judging others quickly? Or did I experience the situation that others judged me too easily? Do Jesus’ words help me? I try to recognise myself in some of the pictured persons. I end up with a talk with Jesus.