Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"You have heard it said...But I say..."

The Word for today:
Matthew 5:17-48

I write Bible courses for adults. Then I speak them.

Come Sunday, having written all week, it lends the teaching a first-hand quality, an immediacy. Because I was there all week, shaping that material.

I've got nothing against teaching a course that somebody else wrote; or a course based on a commentary that somebody else wrote. But don't even begin to tell me that's not second hand, Rose.

That's why I hear God's voice in today's verses like nowhere else in his Book.

Because today we hear the Author, cutting through the fog of tradition and the layered lacquer of misapplication. In clear, original voice, he states six times,
"You have heard it said...But I say..."--

"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.' But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire."
(Matthew 5:21-22)

Jesus was not altering the terms of the law in any of these passages. Rather, he was correcting what they had "heard"--the rabbinical understanding of the law. The Author would be the one who would know!

The effect was as if they'd heard muffled recordings--but now the voice was live. The source wasn't 'back there' somewhere. The source was in front of them.

Listen closely today, and you can hear "Let there be light," just the way it was said. You can hear "Lazarus, come forth," just the way it was said. You can even hear "It is finished," and the silence that ensued.

They say he spoke like no man spoke: (1)
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
"Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!"
"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me."
"I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

They say he spoke with authority (2). The prophets all began with "Thus saith the LORD God." But this--this is the LORD God who saith!

This is no intermediary voice. This is the same voice that asked Job, "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?"

The Bible is God's Word. Close your eyes and you can hear his voice.

(1) John 7:46; (2) Matthew 7:29


  1. In 1440 Gutenberg invents his printing press and the first thing he does is print indulgences for the Catholic church. By 1499 the invention has spread throughout Europe and beyond and an estimated 15 million books have been printed using this new invention.(many of them Bibles in various languages).
    In 1517 Luther nails his 95 theses to the church door at Wittenberg. Less than 80 years after this critical invention a protest begins and the world is forever changed. "You have heard it said" has now become "I read it for myself".
    The Word of God in the hands of individuals altered HIStory. The power of this tool cannot be under stated. The great tragedy of the 20th century (and now the 21st century)church is that we put that Book on the shelf and went back to hearing it 2nd hand on Sunday mornings again. Bible illiteracy among professing Christians is an epidemic of "Biblical" proportions.

  2. "In 1440 Gutenberg invents his printing press and the first thing he does is print indulgences..".

    "'You have heard it said' has now become 'I read it for myself'...."

    "An epidemic of 'Biblical' proportions..."--Nice!

    You, sir, have a strong, distinctive voice. Fact-based, no less!

    Whoever you are, we hope to hear more of you in these parts.

    Thank you for this teaching.