Fantasy, reality and healthy relationships.
Reading: Matthew 5:27-32
Jesus is not afraid to talk reality. Sex is a reality with which we are often confronted in public life through the TV, newspapers and other literature and yet rarely does it get a mention in polite church circles. Apart from the occasional tut-tut when improper sexual relationships come to light, we assume all is well, that everybody is in the clear and there is nothing to talk about. Sex is a young person’s thing isn’t it! Surprise, surprise, that might well be a wrong assumption! You don’t know what goes on in my head, and I haven’t a clue about your thoughts either. (Perhaps that’s a good thing too.) So this is the level at which Jesus jumps in with both feet – he confronts the reality of what goes on in our heads and hearts even if outward appearances seem OK. Be prepared to get real with yourself this week!
vv 27-28 You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
This was strong stuff! We will consider the adultery side of it later, but suffice to notice here that Jesus takes to himself the right to re-interpret what would have seemed a simple commandment – You shall not … – and He goes beyond the obvious physical interpretation to include the heart-desire.
To the legalistically minded Jews this was indeed radical. Whilst many married men will affirm they have kept this commandment to the letter, how many can say truthfully that desire for another woman has never entered his mind? So Jesus claims the authority to name that thought as adultery of the heart – and a breaking of the Seventh Commandment.
In Matthew 19, which we shall read on Wednesday, Jesus claims to know the mind of God in relation to Divorce, and in this section he claims to give the definitive, God-intention of the commandment. God’s desire is for people to have not only pure actions but a pure heart also. That is because impure thoughts are the precursor of sinful actions. Psalm 24:3 reminds us that ‘Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure.’
These claims by Jesus to know the mind of God must have been like sharp darts into the consciences of many men. Jesus was declaring that to live in a fantasy world of wide-ranging sexual desire was to break this Seventh Commandment. Many people then, as now, need to grasp that Jesus knew perfectly the mind of God, and He understood too the tendencies of our fallen nature.