Vicar Christopher Stout

You have heard that it was said to those of old, you have heard that it was said, it was also said, again you have heard that it was said to those of old…but I say to you. 

 The audacity and boldness this Jesus was showing; the authority that He was claiming. You have heard that it was said…. “Yea, I have heard that it was said, by reliable, authoritative, pious individuals. Who are you to tell me otherwise?”  Where was it said, “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not swear falsely?”  That sounds like the Torah – the Old Testament. Who is this guy to be claiming an added “I say to you” to the holy Ten Commands?  But, “You have heard it said…” is not the voice of God’s holy Word, it is of the many and various voices interpreting, wrongly, God’s holy Word. Jesus is saying, “You have heard that it was said” to disciples that have heard many voices from their society and culture and family and friends. What have we heard from these voices?  How do these voices that catechize us in our job and school and T.V. and group of friends differ from the voice that gives life, not death?  How do the voices that we hear differ from the voice of the living Christ that speaks to us today to say, “But I say to you.”  

Vicar Christopher Stout

You have heard that it was said to those of old, you have heard that it was said, it was also said, again you have heard that it was said to those of old…but I say to you. 

 The audacity and boldness this Jesus was showing; the authority that He was claiming. You have heard that it was said…. “Yea, I have heard that it was said, by reliable, authoritative, pious individuals. Who are you to tell me otherwise?”  Where was it said, “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not swear falsely?”  That sounds like the Torah – the Old Testament. Who is this guy to be claiming an added “I say to you” to the holy Ten Commands?  But, “You have heard it said…” is not the voice of God’s holy Word, it is of the many and various voices interpreting, wrongly, God’s holy Word. Jesus is saying, “You have heard that it was said” to disciples that have heard many voices from their society and culture and family and friends. What have we heard from these voices?  How do these voices that catechize us in our job and school and T.V. and group of friends differ from the voice that gives life, not death?  How do the voices that we hear differ from the voice of the living Christ that speaks to us today to say, “But I say to you.”  

 We often love to hear these voices whispering to our flesh that it’s not that bad, that our sins are not that much, not that big of a deal – you can control them. You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.”  Yes, that’s what I like to hear, I can control that. Just don’t kill anyone. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council, and whoever says, “You fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire. Anger, insulting – controllable sometimes, sometimes not – that’s liable to judgment. There are good and right times and situations to be angry in a godly way because God gets angry over abuse of His will and ways. But anger without righteous cause towards your spouse, towards your parents, toward your brother and sister in Christ -- the slightest bit of anger that you hold within and the anger that explodes in yelling is liable to judgment.

You shall not kill is not simply to be read, “Your hands shall not do violence that ends in a dead body.” No, it says,” You, yourself, your whole body and soul, your hands, your heart, your mouth, your eyes, your money and goods, must not, should not, kill. You, every part of you, shall not snuff out life, but do everything in your power to sustain life.”  You have heard it said that a life in the womb is a mother’s to choose whether it lives or dies, but Jesus says to you that you must do everything in your power to sustain that life. You have heard it said that you shouldn’t raise waves by speaking about someone’s sin, but Jesus says to you that this is a matter of “life and good, death and evil” (Deuteronomy 30:15). Jesus voices, “I say to you, be reconciled to your brother who has something against you --  I say to you that anger, insulting, a fear of speaking up, a hesitation to ask forgiveness from others who we have sinned against are universal sins.”  This shows us our universal need for a universal savior.  God shows that our reconciliation with him, with his strict Law, is beyond our ability, to show us that beyond us and our ability, He has reconciled us through His very Son.

This is the voice of God saying, “I say to you.”  But there’s so many other voices that tell us how we should act, what we should think, how we should feel. You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.”  Society voices its opinion by saying, “it’s only human (1 Cor. 3:4), who are you to judge what happens before marriage?”  Our flesh voices its opinion by saying, “It feels good, natural even – you have the urge, so do it. No one will even know about the anonymous computer-screen generated adultery that you’re having.”   Satan gives his opinion, “Marriage isn’t forever. Stay in it, put forth effort in it, show compassion in it as long as you feel good about it because that’s what marriage is about, how you feel, how you’re doing, how your spouse is doing in the pleasing you department.” 

So many voices, is it any wonder why Jesus says, “You have heard it’s been said.”  Yes, I have, Jesus, and sometimes they seem rather convincing. These voices of our flesh, the world, and Satan have one thing in common – they don’t take sin seriously. But Jesus does, “I say to you…that if your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”  That’s taking sin seriously!

This isn’t Jesus saying that you should tear out your eyes or cut off your hand, because sin doesn’t originate there, it originates in your heart. Tear out your eye, amputate your hand, but then you’d be all bloodied and you’d still have your sinful, lustful heart. This is Jesus saying to you that sin is serious. So serious, that it will cause this Jesus, not to lose simply and eye or a hand, but his whole body was given for you and thrown into the hell of fire as He became the sacrifice for the sin of world. Jesus speaks about reconciliation to our brother and as our brother in the flesh, as very God in the flesh, He speaks reconciling words as He says, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” God’s gift for the world was sacrificed on the wooden altar of a cross to reconcile you, be the ransom for the debts owed, be the voice of peace in the midst of the many voices that we hear. God’s gift of the world continues to give reconciliation gifts at this altar.

You have heard it said that your sin is not a big deal but Jesus says to you that it’s a matter of life and death. You have heard so many voices of death, but the Lord and giver of life says to you, “but I am the living voice of life that gives you life in the midst of your death and the deadly voices that surround you.”  Hands and eyes that act in sin are only a symptom of a heart that is unclean -- stained; a heart the needs cleansed; a heart that is cleansed by the purifying blood given to you today. You have heard that it was said, “create in me a clean heart”, and Jesus says to you “Take and drink.”  Amen. 

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
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Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a