“Yes,” or “No” that is all we need to say we read in the Gospel passage for this weekend. Yet how often have we heard someone say I’ll try and make that event, whilst inside we know that means they won’t make it. In our world where image is everything is there an erosion of trust as we second guess what people really mean by their words? How does what we read impact our words as we walk through life? Jesus lifts us to a higher standard as he begins His teaching this weekend.
Speaking Notes – Caveat
These notes are my speaking notes and are provided as an accompaniment to the recording. Please accept that they are not intended to be a published grammatically correct essay. I do hope and pray however they help you move towards Jesus.
Now onto the content…
As we continue to look at the Sermon on the Mount in the gospel of Matthew today we get to a rather complex passage, that I am thankful to have had some theological training to prepare for.
So I have studied the Greek and prepared an in-depth three point talk that breaks down these complex words of Jesus and gives you some understanding of what Jesus was getting at. Let me read the words of Jesus again in case you missed them earlier.
Jesus said, All you need to say is simply “Yes,” or “No”; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Now bear with me because the Greek as I said gets a bit complex. But I have broken it down into these three key points. The Greek translates as:
1. Jesus said don’t lie.
2. Jesus said to tell the truth.
3. Jesus said it is evil to lie.
So the greek really means.
All you need to say is simply “Yes,” or “No”;
Thank you. (Sits Down)
Oh you were expecting more? In truth I could sit down right now and I believe that you know the truth of what Jesus said here. But let us unpack this passage a little further.
Let’s start by looking at whom Jesus is talking to. This particular passage does not appear in any of the other Gospels and the book of Matthew is in general written not only to all who believe, but perhaps more specifically to the Jews. And if we go back to Matthew 5:1-2 we see that Jesus is specially talking to his disciples.
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.
That is those who followed him, those who believed. Today’s passage as so much of the teaching of Jesus is aimed squarely at people who say they believe, people who have been baptised. If you profess to be a Christian then today’s passage is aimed squarely at you. So if Jesus teaching was aimed at believers and Matthew is aimed at believers why was it needed?
Well the believers of the time were the likes of the Pharisees. They had somehow taken the law of the Ten Commandments and other parts of the Old Testament, which talked about swearing in God’s name like:
‘You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. Exodus 20:7
“Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:12
They took these words and twisted them. They used clever words to sound like they were committing to an oath but words that would let them weasel out of the deal.
They would say words that sounded similar but they would swear on heaven or Jerusalem. So Jesus needed to tackle this because there were people walking around teaching that it was OK to claim a belief in an almighty God, but act in a deceitful way.
You see God kept his word, his covenant that he hae made with Israel as we heard in our Old Testament reading. But Israel was twisting their side of the covenant. That is why Jesus had to do something.
So what did Jesus command? Jesus raised the bar he said there is no need to swear by God, because if you follow God then very words that comes out of your mouth will be the truth. There shouldn’t be any question of that fact. People should not need to ask you to swear, you very words should be your bond. Let you yes be yes and your no be no.
So that is the gist of what the passage is saying.
But I believe God has more for us today.
The Big Idea – The
I believe that there has been a growing realisation here in Bedhampton that God has more for us. More of His holiness, more of His gifts, more of His Spirit, more of Him. When Jesus said let your yes be yes and your no be no, he was saying let your actions show who you are, stop saying one thing and doing another. Stop being grey and commit to Him.
Application – What Do We Need To Do Now?
So what do we need to do about what we have heard today to make that full commitment to following Jesus?
Well let me put it this way.
Who when they heard todays passage thought thew? There is one thing I think I can do. Don’t make any oaths, I can do that. Remember jesus said:
But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.
Who thought I have not make any oaths this week? Tick.
But let us take a look at the heart behind the words of Jesus.
We may not swear on the heaven, or Jerusalem so we can wiggle out of what we have said we will do. But what is it that we do to wiggle out of living the best life Jesus has for us?
Is there anyone out there who is willing to be honest other than me and say that occasionally I exaggerate how well I follow Jesus?
Is there anyone out there willing to be honest and say that occasionally I feel a nudge from God’s Spirit and turn the other way because I am afraid what I may have to do?
Sometimes I wiggle and I look a better follower of Jesus than I really am.
Don’t get me wrong, God still loves me, as He loves you.
But sometimes I miss out, you miss out on all he has for us because we wiggle. We look at the reading and feel relieved. We don’t dig deeper, look at the heart behind the message and we don’t take the next step towards Jesus. We don’t commit. Or am I alone?
Conclusion – One More Thing
As I finish I just want to say one more thing. I don’t believe that this call to commitment is for the mature adults, it’s not for teenagers, it’s not for the retired. It’s not for St Nicks, it’s not for St Toms. It’s not for new Christians or old Christians.
I believe that God is calling this whole church to action.
Everyone in this Church, and now is the time to listen, now is the time to ditch the wiggle and to make that commitment.
Now this the time to take the next step towards Jesus.