THE WORDS OF JESUS
Creative, Causative, Prophetic, Instructional – Part 14
“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” – The Words of Jesus, Matthew 5:33-37.
Remembering that the Word of God is Creative, Causative, Prophetic, Instructional and that we proceed with great caution and care when we speak and employ His Words in our life or for our use. What do you suppose Jesus meant by these words, and what are His intentions of this teaching? Misapplying what He has taught can carry dire consequences. (Jesus has always been concerned about our lack of understanding and ‘lack of faith’.)
By these words, Jesus is instructing about the power of His spoken Word and the seriousness of making oaths or covenantal contracts by or in His Name or the Name of The Father.
There is much that can be made of these verses and much that could be said about the Law, tradition, social constructs, etc. However, Jesus continues His teaching by simply comparing, contrasting and moving our attention from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant, saying, “Again, you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn’.
The Jew of that day most likely had a basic understanding of the Law. Jesus is presenting what would have been considered a radical departure from the Law and the Prophets. He is teaching about the New Covenant written in His Blood and by His Flesh. It is indeed a ‘Covenantal Bridge’, which leads to the Kingdom of Heaven. (Again, there is much more that could be said here – volumes more – but it would be superfluous.)
Once again, remember that we are You and I must see the simple and ‘narrow way’. It is always an alarm, like the sounding of the ancient Shofar when Jesus says, ‘But I say to you’. Remember that “the gate is narrow, and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few”.
You are privileged to be among the few and to hear His voice as He says, ‘Do not take an oath at all’. These few words summarize this urgent teaching, and we could stop here for all practical purposes. But since Jesus continues, so shall we. He emphasizes, that we are not to make any oath at all, ‘either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.’
It was common for men around Jesus’ time on earth, to add phrases to an oath or a proclamation like, ‘I swear to God; or, I swear by the heavens above; I swear on the earth or by Jerusalem’ as a means to add weight of solemnity or gravity of seriousness and inspiring the fear of God into their oath or statement. (See this commentary for extended commentaries.) This is slightly similar to what some will do in our day, saying, ‘I swear to God; Cross my heart and hope to die; I swear on my mother’s grave’, when trying to convince others of the truthfulness of what you are saying.
Jesus, however, is emphasizing that telling the truth, if that is what we are doing, is enough. Additionally, and most importantly, He is warning that we have no authority and no right to invoke the Name of God or anything under His dominion to support our statements or oaths.
Jesus warns against this type of ‘religious license and plagiarism’. “Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19-20).
Again, He cautions, ”I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Revelation 22:28-19).
And, there has never been a clearer statement from our Lord regarding any ‘name it and claim it theology’ than when He says, “And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.” Jesus is clear that you have neither the power nor the authority to change anything. It is God alone who creates and causes, gives and takes away, brings the rain and the sunshine. “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of his power.” (Hebrews 1:1-3)
Instead of making any oath at all, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” Nothing more need be said. Nothing more can be said, than “anything more than this comes from evil.”
Anything more than this comes from evil. Evil, from the Greek word, ‘ponērós’, meaning pain and laborious trouble – pain-ridden, emphasizing the inevitable agonies and misery that always go with evil.
Jesus is making a loving and concerned appeal against bringing pain, trouble and misery upon yourself and those around you from making oaths.
“Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Be completely dependent upon God and His Word, and live!
Your Brother and Friend,
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7
“It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4
NEXT: THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 15, Retaliation.
PREVIOUS: THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 13, Divorce.
One thought on “THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 14”
Hello Mike, grateful to you for sharing your teachings of the Lord’s Holy Scriptures, both written and vocal. Thank you 🙏☦️