Step Over The Line

'Lost and Found' by Greg Olsen. Used with Permission. http://www.GregOlsen.com
“Lost and Found” by Greg Olsen. Used with Permission. http://www.GregOlsen.com

June 9, 2022

Matthew 5:20-26

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment,
and whoever says to his brother, Raqa,
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin,
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”

Today’s Gospel is another example of Jesus just doing “Jesus” stuff. Meaning of course – doing it right.

I would love to have the opportunity to just sit there at some time and hear Jesus preach. Knowing what I do now of his style of preaching I would love to hear his voice inflection, his body language, and his emphasis.

I think we all like to think of ourselves as righteous. Jesus even admits the “good” of the Pharisees and the scribes when he admits they are righteous themselves.

Where the Pharisees and scribes fall short would be in their “stopping” at the boundary set by the Law. They don’t go further which is exactly what Jesus tells us we must do.

“I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus was always drawing a very clear line of delineation and then promptly stepping over it. He says we need to follow him over the line.

He talks about how their ancestors were told you could not kill lest you be liable to judgement. There is the line for the Pharisees – you can’t kill. Jesus says for us to step across that line. We can’t even be angry with someone. We must reconcile with whomever that might be.

If we have done something to hurt someone, if we are angry with someone in our hearts, if we spread rumors – anything we do with malice – we must reconcile before we bring our gifts to the altar.

I am not here to judge you worthy of the Eucharist (really, who is) but rather I am here to make you aware that there are requirements given by Christ himself. If you know but choose to ignore – are you more righteous than the Pharisees and scribes?

He speaks often in hyperbole; he often draws a line, but he always tells us where we should be – if we listen to him and not just the law.

Be righteous – step over the line or climb the wall but don’t be stopped by anything from going further.

At least that’s what I heard Him say…

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