Jesus' Sermon on the Mount: Murder and Hateful Words

Murder is a grave sin and a grievous crime.

Our Lord certainly agrees that murder is a sin and a crime which must be punished.

In Genesis 9, God mandates capital punishment in cases of murder. The Almighty legislated it in the Ten Commandments. Jesus Christ referred to this commandment in His famous Sermon on the Mount,

Matthew 5:21 "You have heard that the ancients were told, 'You shall not commit murder' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court… and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell."

Don't miss what Jesus said. In verse 21, our Lord affirmed that murder is wrong and that, under the law, murder is both prohibited and punishable.

In verse 22, He dug a little deeper to expose the root of murder: hatred and anger.

"Everyone who is angry and yells insults," Jesus says, "is as guilty of the fires of hell as the murderer."

If this seems unjust, it is more an indictment of our notion of justice rather than of our Lord's.

Does Jesus trivial murder? Absolutely not.

The Bible claims that murder is a gross violation of God's character, for on top of promising eternal judgment, God demands the "death penalty" for any person who carries out a premeditated murderer.

Jesus does not contradict this in Matthew 5.

Indeed, murder is a horrific sin that snuffs out the life of God's image bearer, but every sin is equally a violation of God's holy character and a violation of God's original design for who we are meant to be. So whether you insult someone with hateful words or commit an inexcusable murder, you violate the nature of God and universal law that has been set forth by our Maker.

Jesus: "Murder is sin, a sin worthy of hell."

Man: "Phew, glad I'm not a murderer."

Jesus: O, and hatred and insults are also sins worthy of hell.

Man: "D'oh!"

God's justice knocks us all off our self-righteous high horses and puts us all in the equal place of needing God to be merciful and full of grace to us.

True justice humbles the believer and humanizes all of us. It should keep us from pointing fingers and labeling others. "For, are we any better than they? Absolutely not." (Romans 3:9)

Under the true sense of justice, we are all, every last one of us, in need of God's sin-forgiving and life-changing grace. I speak of the justice acheived in our place by Jesus who bore our sins and injustices on the cross, and clothes us with His righteousness. The just and the justifier of all who believe.

If you happen to stand with Jesus in God's grace through faith, take this to heart: you are forgiven and accepted despite your sin. Be humbled by God's mercy. And in the light of His glorious grace, generously share this mercy and this good news that Jesus gives grace to sinners with others.