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Foundations For Our Future #74

Foundations for Our Future (74)

by: The Rev. Dr. Jon Shuler

You Have Heard That It Was Said

For the sixth and final time, the Lord Jesus prefaces his teaching today (Matthew 5:43) with reference to what his hearers have previously heard. In every case he is taking a common understanding or attitude and then turning it upside down. Today is no different. It is very important to understand what he is doing and what he is not. He is making a distinction, always, between the Word of God his Father, and the teaching of men.

To “love your neighbor” was given by Moses as a command for Israel. It was guidance for the family. The nation was descended from one man and woman. All were kin, and they were to care for one another. It is the most natural of instincts, in fact, but it was codified for the people of God. Jesus will repeat it as right for all who would come after him (Matthew 22:39).

Over time, Israel had many enemies. Some treated them so shamefully that God himself declared that their descendants were never to enter his household. Those experiences led, in time, to simple sayings that captured much, but not all, of the truth God had revealed to his people. Men coined the phrase “Hate your enemies,” not God.

The Lord Jesus is here revealing that the love with which God revealed himself to Israel is a love that is to be extended to all mankind. Israel was chosen, not to limit but to reveal the love of God.