THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW VOLUME 1 CHAPTER 11

SECTION 2: THE PROCLAIMATION OF JESUS THE KING
cHAPTER 11

FURTHER CLARIFICATION OF THE LAW
OR
AN EXAMPLE OF PERFECT LOVE

Scripture To Consider:
“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.”

“Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” Matthew 5.33-37

Something To Consider:
The next example of the true interpretation of the moral laws refers to the requirements both of the third and the ninth commandments. It warns against both profanity and unfaithfulness to promises. These safeguard and secure the truth which is regarded as sacred and is fully protected by the very interpretation of the law upon which Jesus here insists.

The Pharisee, at least the formalist, regarded himself as bound by an oath provided it was stated in certain words. In his mind the slightest verbal change relieved him from all moral obligations. Then again, he excused himself for his profanity in case he did not mention some special form of the divine name. He believed he could swear by the throne of God, or by the earth, or by Jerusalem; but Jesus suggested that all these are contrary to the commandment which forbids us to take the name of the Lord in vain.

Jesus insists that our speech should be simple; that our language should be purged of extravagance; that our purposes, our thoughts, and our lives should be so sincere, so pure and so honest, that a simple “yes” or “no” in our social communication, and in our usual dealings with others should quite suffice to satisfy them of the truthfulness of our statements. That is something for politicians, presidents, and peoples from all walks of life, as well as for true Christians to consider in our 21st century stretch the truth style generation.

More Scripture To Consider:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic [shirt], let him have you cloak [outer garment] also.”

“And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.” Matthew 5.38-42

Something Else To Consider:
The next illustration of the perfect righteousness which Jesus requires of His followers is suggested by a contrast which He draws between His law of perfect love and the traditional interpretation of an Old Testament precept which was used by the Pharisees as an excuse for retaliation and revenge. According to the Law of Moses the civil courts were to administer justice in accordance with the command, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

This simply meant that the penalty was to fit the crime. It is a fundamental principle of law in all lands and ages, but the Pharisee and the formalist whom he represented, used this prescription for civil court as a pretext for taking private revenge. It is necessary to have this distinction in mind when we read the Master’s words, if we would be kept from fanaticism and folly.

When Jesus gives the command, “…not to resist an evil person”, He has in mind no thought that men are to allow the innocent to be abused and the helpless to be killed, when it is possible to protect and to deliver them. In such defense it may even be necessary to lay down one’s own life. Our master is insisting, however, that we are never to inflict suffering in a spirit of revenge. Evildoers must be punished, but the followers of Christ cannot be allowed to be moved to malice by thoughts of revenge.

So, in the matter of injustice inflicted by legal process, rather than seeking revenge, one should be willing to make even greater sacrifice; or when suffering oppression from some civil or religious power, instead of seeking to retaliate, one should show a willingness to endure greater hardship; or when one is asked to grant a loan, while it would be folly to grant it in every instance, the refusal must never be inspired by a desire for revenge. According to Deuteronomy 32.35, and the words of the Lord, “Vengeance is Mine…” therefore, God will repay even if it is accomplished within His universal law of our reaping what we have sown!

More Scripture To Consider:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons [and daughters] of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore, you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5.43-48

Something More To Consider:
The Old Testament plainly required one to observe the law of love. No precept could be more familiar than this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” However, in order to be excused for his narrow exclusiveness and national selfishness, the Jewish religious leaders had interpreted his “neighbor” as meaning his fellow countrymen. And yet, with other nations in mind, the religious Jewish leader had stated the following rule to guide his conduct; “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.”

Then further, these religious leaders came to apply in private life a precept which, at its best, was only a poor rule for unscriptural national guidance. Our Lord gives to the familiar misleading precept a very different interpretation and statement, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, and do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”

Jesus suggested that such conduct is princely and royal and is becoming to those who are sons and daughters of the heavenly Father, by stating; “For He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Jesus further insisted that love for those who are kind and love for family, requires no special grace and is deserving of no particular reward. Even tax gatherers and unbelievers show such selfish or natural affection.

Therefore, it is for the true follower of Christ to show the perfect love which can seek the highest welfare of enemies and can pray for the unkind; for this is like the perfect love of the Father. And yet, what is it that hinders our successfully reflecting the perfect love of our heavenly Father as He indeed has shown unto us? Is it that He was and is willing to love us while we were and are still sinners?

A Few Final Words:
John the beloved wrote in 1 John 4.18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he [or she] who fears has not been made perfect in love.” The fear John is writing about is the fear of judgment. He wrote just one verse prior to verse 18, “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment; because as He is so we are in this world.” In other words, the perfect love of our heavenly Father revealed in His Son Jesus, should cast out any and all human fear of our deserved judgment.

In contrast to the above-mentioned biblical example of what may hinder our successfully reflecting the perfect love of our heavenly Father, is the absence of fear or reverence for God, His Word, and His Son’s sacrifice. Jude writing in verse 12 of his short epistle exposed another something more to consider; speaking of backsliders who have become depraved and doomed to judgment.

Jude had much to say about those who had tasted of the Lord and had known of His goodness. In verse 12 of Jude we are told, “These [backsliders spoken of in previous verses] these are spots [visible stains] in your love feasts [times of religious gatherings] while they feast with you without fear [without reverence for God] they serve only themselves; they are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots.”

Jude declared that they were twice dead. Is he proclaiming they were once born-again from their sins and now returned to their previous lifestyle of sin and carnal corruption? It is exactly what Jude is declaring if we read the previous seven verses and the following seven verses, which is a sure way of telling the truth about any given text quoted out of context by individuals with less than pure motives.

And yet, Jude follows up his revealing of old and new apostates and backsliders from the faith, by an exhortation to maintain our lives in the love of God and an up-to-date relationship with His Son Jesus Christ our best and most faithful example of perfect love. Beginning in verse 20, Jude also writes, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

In Closing:
And in our being wise in following Jude’s instruction, let us keep in mind the revelation exposed by the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 1.7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but [a spirit] of power and [a spirit] of love and [a spirit] of a sound [or clear thinking] mind.” Therefore, let us use each of these most precious Christian gifts to their full advantage on our lifelong journey to and with Jesus without fear of judgment and full of holy reverence for the things of God and the Word of God!

Let’s Pray:
Our Father in heaven, thank You for Your further clarification of the Old Testament law of God. Thank You for Your perfect example of overwhelming love in and through Your Son Jesus and the living Word of God. Help us to become and to remain faithful to truly following Jesus and His written and preserved words of warnings. Prepare us Father for the coming end time persecution. And make us more like Jesus. In Him Always, Amen!

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