Mat 5:20-22 What is the first example that Jesus gives in which our righteousness must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees if we are to enter the kingdom of heaven? Read Mat 5:17; with what fullness did Jesus fill the sixth commandment of Moses? Where does murder take place as God sees it and how does that contrast with how man sees it? What examples of murderous and damning anger does Jesus give in Mat 5:22? With what modern counterparts to “Raca” (empty-head, good for nothing) or “fool” (Greek moros from which we get moron) do people disparage others today? Are we to understand that all anger is sin? Cf. Mar 3:5, 10:14, Eph 4:26, Jam 1:19, and note the KJV which reads “whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause”. Do we tend to view our anger with the same seriousness that Jesus and the other authors of Scripture do? Cf. Jam 1:20, Eph 4:31, Col 3:8, Gal 5:20-21. Hebrews 2:2-3 speaks of our greater accountability to the greater revelation and salvation of the new covenant; are the consequences for disobedience to the higher law of the new covenant also greater? Cf. Heb 10:26-31.
Mat 5:23-26 What is the great danger of harboring anger and unforgiveness toward others? See again Mat 5:21-22, as well as Mat 6:12,14. In light of this danger, what does Jesus teach us in these verses to do when we are at odds with someone? Cf. Rom 12:17-18. Does this also have application to the relationships within our homes? See 1Pe 3:7-9. What do Mat 5:23-24 teach us about the importance of our relationship to others for maintaining our relationship with God? Is our worship of God acceptable before, or after we have been reconciled with others? What sort of heart is able to “make friends quickly” with an opponent: a humble heart that is willing to suffer wrong to his own personal interests, or a prideful heart that tends to view every slight as a matter of principle that must be corrected? Cf. 1Co 6:7-8. What does Mat 5:25 teach us about the potential influence an adversary with whom we have not been reconciled may have against us before a just God? Are lawsuits ever as clear cut as those who bring them suppose, and always decided in favor of those who suppose their case is so clear cut that they cannot be wrong? Is it possible that in our pride that assumes we cannot be wrong and must be right, that we may not see as fairly or from the same perspective that a just and righteous judge may see? How does this understanding make Jesus’ admonition in Mat 5:25 all the more important? Who were the officers of Jesus’ day that would be called to people’s mind by His illustration in Mat 5:25? See Joh 7:32, 18:3,12,18,22, 19:6, Act 5:22. Who do they represent in Jesus’ illustration? See 1Ti 1:20. Into what sort of prison do they cast the irreconcilable and unforgiving for their anger? Cf. Rev 18:2. Is the spiritual bondage with which the powers of darkness imprison the murderous in heart and the torments with which they afflict them less, or more real than the physical bondage and torments with which men are able to afflict? See Mat 10:28, 18:34. Is there a remedial aspect of such imprisonment, or is it purely punitive? See also 1Co 5:5. While some may understand Mat 5:26 and 18:34 as offering a glimmer of hope for deliverance from such imprisonment (“until you have paid up the last cent”), what does Mat 18:21-35 teach us about the likelihood of release, and the grave danger of harboring resentment and unforgiveness? Is there a point past which there can be no deliverance because it is impossible to pay up the last cent? See Psa 49:7-8, Heb 10:26-31, 1Jo 5:16. In this light, is the time to be reconciled with those with whom we are at odds before, or after we have potentially lost our case and are cast into the prison? Which is better: to suffer wrong and forgive, even when it seems clear to us that we have been wronged, or to justify our anger and prosecute those who have wronged us “because of the principle of the thing”?