You know what they say.

How many of us spend how much of our lives based on “you have heard it said?”

This is what we’ve been taught. This is how it should happen. This is what we’ve passed on from generation to generation.

I know that it is easy to pick on “this is how we’ve always done it.” I know the story about the guy who stands with his hand over his shoulder, for no reason other than when his predecessor’s predecessor stood in that place, there was a horse’s halter to hold on to.

Picking on that kind of thinking is easy.

What Jesus did is much more challenging.

Six times he starts with “you have heard it said.” Each time the rule came from the law given to Moses. And then Jesus makes the rule more difficult. What started as rules about behavior become rules about attitudes toward behavior.

Murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, revenge, love. Jesus captures a list of topics at the core of being human, a list of topics all about relationships between human. And then he takes this list and makes it apply to every one of us.

We may not murder but we all know hatred, for example. We may not sleep around with our bodies, but we do with our eyes and our minds. We feel vindicated by vengeance, but we all fail to bend over backwards.

This sermon’s list of blessings would have made many listeners feel good about themselves. The hard-driving list of reinterpreted obligations would have hammered at the audience, one blow after another.

Because, after all, while I don’t hate anyone, if I am honest with myself and with you, I do consider some people foolish. People I know. People who know me. It’s what I do.

That’s like murder.

I confess.


From Learning a New Routine.