Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to people in antiquity, ‘You are not to commit murder, but anyone who does commit murder must be brought to justice’.”
— Matthew 5:21 (USC)
Murderous hearts! Not me!
We would never have ourselves scandalised like that – for anyone to say we are gluttons for assailing people would get an abhorrent response. Yet, as we are about to find out, we each have a delirious penchant for ending people’s lives. We wish to bring them harm. And, if nothing else, it’s a case of that uncontrollable part of our human psyche getting the better of us.
The unconscious mind – a very real place of mental, emotional, and spiritual transaction and hoarding – bears the trappings of truth real to our inner nature. The ugly truths about our nature are held here and are irrefutable.
Many of us want to refuse that this is true – that we are beggars for crime. But in classically human and intrinsic ways we are.
Just look at how hard it is for us to forgive a person for ‘betraying’ us. Worse, still, is that propensity we all have to get envious without the other person giving us any cause for bitterness. Yet, we are bitter!
There is occasionally the true person who is not embittered at all by their experiences of life. These people are gifted by God that way; they can take no credit for the lack of malice they feel. The rest of us must rely on God’s grace and pray for his mercy, for the Lord may certainly judge the matters of resentment we never dealt with.
With this movement of Jesus’ Sermon we find the first real challenge; have we killed anyone? Phew, we can rest easy. Not so quick!
Jesus is still getting to the heart of the issue: the heart is what issues the feelings we would like to act on, and sometimes do act on: our Anger!
We all know what it’s like to have a murderous intent. All of us have been livid with another person at some point. And we have probably all experienced the fortune of getting away with murder – had circumstances been even slightly different we may well have committed that very act.
QUESTIONS in REVIEW:
1. How have you recognised in yourself the propensity to harm someone else?
2. What sort of empathy do you have for those who have actually committed manslaughter?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr. Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.