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A Mary T. Hoffman Commentary from


"Joyful Curmudgeon" An oxymoron?
No! I see all the beauty of God's creation and I'm joyful.  At the same time, I see all the suffering and corruption going on in the world, and feel called to help expose and end it so that we may have true peace and compassion.


The Sermon on the Mount (Continued) – 22 October 2006
By Mary T. Hoffman

In Matthew 5:21-26, Jesus continues to raise the bar for human behavior. He acknowledges to His audience the sixth commandment “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13) that was familiar to them from olden days.

Then He goes on to say, in effect, that this commandment was no longer sufficient: that under Divine law simply harboring anger and ill will toward another, or derogatory name-calling, is enough to earn dire consequences for the offender. In addition, Jesus took the Law (in its purest form and extricated from self-serving Pharisaic interpretation) of the Israelites and applied it to all people for all time.

The word “Raca” (5:22) is Aramaic for “You Fool!” and the expression “hell fire” refers to “Gehenna,” the valley of Hinnom, a non-stop, refuse-burning site southwest of Jerusalem at that time.

Jesus emphasizes the importance of prompt forgiveness and reconciliation between individuals caught up in a disagreement.

21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.

26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
~ King James Version

As we look around at the turmoil in the world today, we can see that the need for actually applying Jesus’ teachings is of the utmost importance. Simply reading and reciting His words is not what He has in mind for us. We are to be doers of His Word. The above-quoted verses from Matthew 5:21-26 are further emphasized by the Lord when He says “…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)

Refusing to communicate with and to understand others, listening to and spreading gossip, looking down on others, scapegoating someone because they are “different” – such behavior is all too common. Two thousand years ago, Jesus gave us the instructions for changing this sad state of affairs; but it takes each individual to decide to take that first step toward reconciliation and to become the peacemaker Jesus calls us to be.

Go on to: The Sermon on the Mount (Continued) – 23 October 2006
Return to: The Sermon on the Mount (Continued) – 21 October 2006
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