Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church
Worship Focus for February 16
Rev. Dr. Libby Boatwright, preaching
Greetings!

This week’s passage offers what many would call some of the “hard sayings” of Jesus, six antitheses that contrast Israelite law or interpretations of it (“you have heard”) with Jesus’ authoritative teaching altering or radicalizing this law (“but I say to you”) on the topics of anger, adultery, divorce, swearing oaths, (and in later in the passage-retaliation and love for enemies). Rather than embrace the old Pharisaic law, Christ challenges his followers to look at the origin or cause of the sin, and reconcile, reflect and reverse the course of detrimental behavior. In an age of broken promises and oaths, it’s a refreshing reminder to seek first the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness.

Join us for the 7:50 a.m., 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. services as we wrestle with this important scripture.

Blessings,
Libby
Theme for Sunday

For so sworn good or evil an oath may not be broken and it shall pursue oathkeeper and oathbreaker to the world’s end.
—J.R.R. Tolkien
Questions for Reflection
  • Are there times when you let anger get the better of you? How did you “come to terms” with your accuser or situation? What made the difference?
  • Are there people in your life who have broken the vows of a relationship or marriage? What was the underlying behavior that caused it to happen? What actions could have prevented the behavior?
  • What are some of the “vows you have made to the Lord?” How have you kept them?
Matthew 5:21-37

“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell. It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.