Epistles to the Cyberchurch - Su Min

To: All
From: Su Min
Subject: Court

My dear children,
Jesus says, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them (Matt 5:17)" Six times in rapid succession, as recorded within 20 verses here, Jesus says: "You have it heard that it was said" or "it has been said." (Matt 5: 21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43.) Then Jesus declares a principle of law that every one recognises. Yet the understanding of the law was superficial. The common understanding did not include the spirit of the law. Jesus, the great teacher, comes to teach us God's desires for us as embodied in the spirit of the law.

Read Matt 5:25-26 today and hear Jesus speak to you. Hear Jesus teach us, as he completes the four-fold expansion of his teaching about the commandment against murder. Today's reading still centres on the commandment "Do not murder". The concept is expanded by Jesus, expounded by Jesus. No murder action is not good enough.

  1. He teaches us we should not harbour anger against our brother (Matt 5:22). No murder mind. No murder heart.
  2. He teaches us we should not speak in derogatory terms (Matt 5:23). No murder tongue, no murder mouth, no murder lips.
  3. He teaches us to make the first step, go and be reconciled to our brother (Matt 5:24). From no negative to a positive. Do not let raw differences and open wounds remain. Actively go and reconcile. Go and heal. Make peace not war.
  4. In today's reading Jesus advises us against going to court with our brothers.
This teaching is very important when we consider the interactions between Christian brothers and sisters. Misunderstandings are bound to occur. What a poor example we show the secular world when we rush off to court to sue at the slightest provocation. Jesus teaching is clear here. Settle the matter quickly. A parallel passage is found in Luke. "When you go with your adversary to the magistrate, make every effort along the way to settle with him, lest he drag you to the judge, the judge deliver you to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you shall not depart from there till you have paid the very last mite. (Luke 12:58-59)"

The teaching is not new: Indeed Jesus would have been thinking of Proverbs 25:8-10 as he spoke. "Do not go hastily to court; for what will you do in the end, when your neighbour has put you to shame? Debate your case with your neighbour, and do not disclose the secret to another; lest he who hears it exposes your shame and your reputation be ruined."

Indeed later on Jesus gives specific instructions how the progressive steps should be taken to settle a difference between believers (Matt 18:15-17):

Let us pray.

For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min

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