As we continue our study of the Sermon on the Mount, this Sunday we will be looking at
Matthew 5:33-37 NRSV
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you: Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.
Now if you are following this study closely, you will notice that there was a section that was skipped between last week and this week. That passage of scripture is Matthew 5:27-32…
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.
31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
I have chosen not to speak on these verses this Sunday because this Sunday we will be celebrating Vacation Bible School and my hope is that this Sunday can be a time of celebration for our children.
I don’t think it would be appropriate to speak of sexuality on a Sunday when we want to celebrate Vacation Bible School.
I would like to share some thoughts with you about the Matthew 5:27-32 verses and then offer you some thoughts on Matthew 5:33-37.
This post will be longer than most.
Jesus is continuing to reference the law during this section of Matthew. He starts with do not commit adultery. This is one of the 10 commandments and the audience listening would have known that, for sure. Just like Jesus did with murder, he is going right for the heart issue… lust.
I want to point out that Jesus is not talking about romance and sexual desire. Those are good things created by God. If you don’t think so, go and read Adam’s poetry In Genesis when he gazes at a naked Eve or turn to Song of Solomon, it is an entire book of the Bible that celebrates love and sexuality.
What I believe Jesus is talking about when he mentions lust, is the objectification of another person. Objectification occurs anytime we look at another person and use them as an object, a commodity, a consumer good that exists for our sexual gratification.
The heart of Jesus’ sexual ethic is to be a person who doesn’t treat other people as objects for selfish pleasure, but one that loves and honors another’s dignity and worth as people made in God’s image.
Jesus warns us that this type of objectification leads to our destruction. The world we live in is constantly trying to tell us that there is nothing to be concerned about, but as soon as you ask someone who has been directly affected by objectification, that lie just gets exposed.
The latest statistics show that pornography is a 17-billion-dollar industry. Thirty percent of all internet searches are pornographic. The average age of someone exposed to pornography is 11 years old. If you think that this is only a male problem, statistics show that 1/3 of pornographic searches are made by females.
Lust is as common in our lives as anger.
What are we doing about it? Jesus says whatever is causing the issue to cut it out. Maybe that means we need to pay closer attention to the movies we watch. Maybe that means we need to turn the television off, maybe that means we need to step away from the internet, maybe that mean we need an accountability partner that we can be honest with.
Jesus warns us that lust leads to destruction. We can find freedom from lust. Jesus is not calling us to something impossible. Hard, yes, but not impossible. It will take time, and community and above all the power the Holy Spirit. Can we see others as beloved people created in the image of God instead of seeing people as objects for selfish pleasure?
A quick word on the divorce passage, Jesus is referencing what was becoming commonplace in those times. This was problematic because a divorced woman would find it difficult to support herself. Men were not faithfully honoring their commitment to their wives.
This Sunday we will be looking at Matthew 5:33-37. We are currently in the section of the sermon on the mount where Jesus is expanding upon the law. The folks listening would have been familiar with these laws. Jesus spoke about murder and tied it to the heart issue of anger. Jesus spoke of adultery and tied it to the heart issue of lust. In this passage Jesus is talking about not swearing falsely. The law Jesus is referring to is the third commandment… Do not take the name f the Lord your God in vain.
When we hear the word swear, do you think of profanity? I don’t think that is what this commandment is speaking to. I believe this commandment is speaking to taking an oath or vow. Jesus is telling the listeners on that mountain to stop swearing to a higher power to validate what you are saying. If a man was accused of stealing another man’s ox. The man accused might say in his defense, “I didn’t steal your ox, I swear to God”. Jesus is saying enough with the swearing. Your word should always be truthful. There should be no need to swear on the name of the Lord to validate what you are saying.
As followers of Jesus, are our words always truthful? Do we do what we say? Does our yes mean yes and our no mean no?
Maybe you have heard this commandment and teaching that we should not swear oaths in a court of law. That taking an oath is wrong in a court of law.
Jesus did. Do you remember?
Let’s talk about it on Sunday.
~ Pastor Dustin