Sermon on the Mount - Adultery

(Matthew 5:27-30)

By Mary Jane Chaignot

Categories: Biblical Teachings, Sermon on the Mount, Sermon on the Mount (Bible Study)

  • The next command has to do with adultery and lusting.
  • Jesus states, “Whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery.”
  • Scholars disagree whether woman or wife is a more accurate translation.
  • What does it mean to look upon someone? “Look,” like the anger of our previous discussion, is written as a present participle.
  • It doesn’t mean glance; it doesn’t mean notice. It means stare—a prolonged, sustained look.
  • Moreover, it is looking to lust after her. “Lust” is written as an infinitive with a particular preposition. It has to mean purpose. The person is looking at someone in order to lust.
  • This is not a casual admiration of someone walking down the street. It is staring with the intent to possess.
  • It seeks mastery over another person, puts them down, uses them for one’s own pleasure. It speaks to intentional looking with the aim of breaking another’s marriage.
  • This is an important point in that this command does not seek to curtail the natural interest in members of the opposite sex, nor does it speak to the intimacy naturally expressed within a marriage.
  • It does, however, recognize that marriages face many dangers, and sexual laxity figures prominently in many of them.
  • This command is very hard to keep. It humbles us (as do the other commands). So in a very real sense, this command is pointing us right back to those first beatitudes, which pick us up and move us out.
  • This is describing a process, and hopefully along the way there will be progression. Because of the beatitudes, we have the ability to keep this command.
  • We can see the enslaving power of pleasure as internal bondage. And we can be liberated from that.
  • But what if it happens to us? What if we do find ourselves in the situation of looking upon someone to lust after them?
  • Just as Jesus gave some solutions for dealing with resentment, that anger we were nursing, he also gives some solutions for this difficulty.
  • However, they are pretty strict. Jesus says, “Pluck out that eye, cut off that hand.”
  • If something is causing difficulty, get rid of it. He does not suggest a band aid approach; rather, he commands amputation.
  • There is a great line, “It is better to go limping into heaven, than leaping into hell.”
  • These are not gradual, gentle measures; they are decisive, perhaps even brutal.
  • The metaphors of hand and eye suggest that the cure is not easy.
  • The metaphors are a very forceful image of the drastic measures which we need to employ.

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