What Jesus Did! 'Murder!' — Matthew 5:21-22

Sunday, February 21, 2021

[Jesus continued:] "You have heard that our ancestors were told, 'You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.' But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell."
— Matthew 5:21-22 NLT

Key Thought

As religious people, it is so easy for us to feel pious and righteous when we hear of all the horrible, ungodly things done in our world. We can smugly think to ourselves, "Thankfully I don't do those things!" Jesus shatters all of our smugness. He tells us that he wants our righteousness to exceed that of the Pharisees and teachers of religious law in his time. He really means it. The next several verses will drive this point home. The character of heart described in the Beatitudes is now demanded of disciples in our everyday lives. There's no room for smugness when Jesus tells us that angry hatred, slanderous gossip, or shaming speech puts us in the same category as murderers. His point? Murder starts in the heart and works its way out. Hatred and murder are part of the same continuum — different by degree, not by kind.

Today's Prayer

O Lord, purge from my heart all bitterness, hatred, and venomous anger. Give me your Spirit of forgiveness and grace. I want to be pure in heart and hold nothing against those you love. Father, I don't want to poison my heart with the stains of Satan's tools of anger, judgmentalism, and disrespect. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Genesis 4:5-6, 8
  • James 1:19-20
  • Ephesians 4:26-27


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Illustration of Matthew 5:21-22 NLT — "You have heard that our ancestors were told, 'You must not murder."

About This Devotional

What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware and is available in book form.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.