vv 25-26 When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison. And if that happens, you surely won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny.
These are difficult verses to handle with any confidence. A number of writers simply gloss over them without any comment, or make some elementary remark about dealing honestly and speedily with legal matters.
What most writers note however is that Jesus sems to be working through the Ten Commandments and how they should be applied. Verses 21 – 24 relate to the 6th Commandment about the sanctity of life and the offence of murder. Verses 27 – 32 emphasise the 7th Commandment and the sanctity of marriage and the offence of adultery. So to what do vv 25-26 relate?
The connection is perhaps a reminder to deal honestly, openly and above board, in all relationships. Both murder (including tongue-murder through abusive language) and adultery, destroy life, a marriage relationship and harmonious life in society. We would expect these two verses therefore to be somewhat in the same vein. So perhaps Jesus is pointing to the fact that society also needs to be held together by honest, fair and yet compassionate legal dealings.
Both Law and Love are needed to hold society together.
Our reading today is an example of the law not being applied fairly, leaving Paul to insist on some kind of apology (v 39)