21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
So now Jesus switches gears and starts by re-iterating the Ten Commandments, to show how the religious teachers had missed their true meaning. When the bible talks about the Law, it can be referring to the “ceremonial law”, which was based on the sacrificial system, or the “moral law”, based on the Ten Commandments. Here it is referring to moral law. As most people acknowledge, the Ten Commandments are at the heart of what we call “morality”. They are the basis of Christian/Judeo values that we hold in common in Western civilization. Jesus starts by saying, “You have heard it said.” He is stating the law. Then he says, “But I tell you.” He is giving them the fuller understanding of what the Law was intended to mean. He starts with murder. The Pharisees thought if they didn’t murder anyone they had obeyed this Law. This was the minimum requirement. But Jesus expanded its meaning saying, “If you are angry with your brother or sister and hold bitterness toward them in your heart you are guilty of breaking this commandment. It is a dangerous emotion that is not pleasing to God.
Heavenly Father, help us to have control of our anger, and think about how our words or actions will affect a fellow brother or sister in Christ. In Your Name, Amen.