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Matthew 5

Jesus Teaches the Disciples and Crowds
1When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them.
He said,
3“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
because the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
4Blessed are those who mourn,
because they will be comforted.
5Blessed are those who are humble,
because they will inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who are hungry and thirsty for justice,
because they will be fully satisfied.
7Blessed are those who show mercy,
because they will be shown mercy.
8Blessed are those who have pure hearts,
because they will see God.
9Blessed are those who make peace,
because they will be called children of God.
10Blessed are those who suffer for the sake of justice,
because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
11“Blessed are you when, because of me, people insult you and attack you and falsely accuse you of doing all kinds of bad things. 12Rejoice and be glad, because you have a great reward in heaven. You’re being treated just the way people treated the prophets who lived long ago.
Salt and Light
13“You’re the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It’s not good for anything anymore. It has to be thrown out onto the street.
14“You’re the light of the world. A city that’s built on top of a hill can’t be hidden. 15People don’t light a lamp and then put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on a stand so that it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine so that others can see it. Then they’ll see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.
Fulfilling the Law
17“Don’t think that I’ve come to set aside what’s written in the Law and the Prophets. I haven’t come to do that, but to fulfill what’s written. 18Truly I tell you, heaven and earth will disappear before the smallest letter disappears from the Law. Not even the smallest mark of a pen will disappear until everything the Law says happens. 19So anyone who sets aside one of the least of the commands and teaches others to do the same will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But anyone who practices and teaches the commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20I tell you, unless your righteousness is even better than the righteousness of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you won’t enter the kingdom of heaven.
21“You’ve heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Don’t commit murder. Anyone who commits murder will answer for it in court.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who loses their temper with a brother or sister will answer for it in court. Anyone who speaks scornfully to a brother or sister will face the council of elders. And anyone who dismisses someone as worthless will be in danger of the fire in hell.
23“Suppose you’re offering your gift at the altar and you remember that your brother or sister has something against you. 24Leave your gift in front of the altar, go and make peace with them, and then come back and offer your gift.
25“Suppose someone has a claim against you and is taking you to court. Settle the matter quickly, while you’re still on the way there together. If you don’t, you may be handed over to the judge, the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26Truly I tell you, then you won’t get out until you’ve paid the very last penny!
27“You’ve heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28But I tell you that anyone who looks with lust at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, pull it out and throw it away. It’s better to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It’s better to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
31“It has been said, ‘Any man who divorces his wife must give her a letter of divorce.’ 32But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife for any reason other than unfaithfulness makes her a victim of adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
33“Again, you’ve heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Don’t break your promises. Keep the promises you make to the Lord.’ 34But I tell you, don’t make any promises like that. Don’t make them in the name of heaven, because that’s God’s throne. 35Don’t make them in the name of the earth, because that’s where God rests his feet. Don’t make them in the name of Jerusalem, because that’s the city of the Great King. 36And don’t guarantee a promise with your own head, because you can’t turn even one hair of your head white or black. 37All you need to say is simply ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Anything more than that comes from the evil one.
Not Taking Revenge
38“You’ve heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39But I tell you not to retaliate against someone who treats you poorly. Suppose someone slaps you on your right cheek. Then turn your other cheek to them as well. 40Suppose someone takes you to court to get your shirt. Let them have your coat too. 41Suppose someone forces you to go one mile. Go two miles with them. 42If a person asks you for something, give it to them, and if a person wants to borrow something from you, let them borrow it.
Loving Your Enemies
43“You’ve heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor. Hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you, love your enemies, and pray for those who hurt you. 45That way you’ll be the children of your Father who is in heaven. He causes his sun to shine on bad people and good people, and he sends rain on those who do right and those who don’t. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Even the tax collectors do that. 47If you say hello only to your friends, what more are you doing than others? Even people who don’t believe in God do that. 48So be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
You’re Blessed
1-2When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
3“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
6“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
7“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
8“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
9“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
10“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
11-12“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
Salt and Light
13“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
14-16“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
Completing God’s Law
17-18“Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God’s Law or the Prophets. I’m not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama. God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.
19-20“Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.
21-22“You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.
23-24“This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.
25-26“Or say you’re out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you’re likely to end up in court, maybe even jail. If that happens, you won’t get out without a stiff fine.
Adultery and Divorce
27-28“You know the next commandment pretty well, too: ‘Don’t go to bed with another’s spouse.’ But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt.
29-30“Let’s not pretend this is easier than it really is. If you want to live a morally pure life, here’s what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer. You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile. And you have to chop off your right hand the moment you notice it raised threateningly. Better a bloody stump than your entire being discarded for good in the dump.
31-32“Remember the Scripture that says, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him do it legally, giving her divorce papers and her legal rights’? Too many of you are using that as a cover for selfishness and whim, pretending to be righteous just because you are ‘legal.’ Please, no more pretending. If you divorce your wife, you’re responsible for making her an adulteress (unless she has already made herself that by sexual promiscuity). And if you marry such a divorced adulteress, you’re automatically an adulterer yourself. You can’t use legal cover to mask a moral failure.
Empty Promises
33-37“And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.
Love Your Enemies
38-42“Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
43-47“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
48“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”