Matthew 5: 20-26
St Matthew’s presentation of Jesus is that of The Great Teacher who gives five discourses in the gospel. The opening discourse is the Sermon on the Mount (Chapter 5-7) in which Jesus, addressing His disciples, has placed identity before behaviour. This behaviour is given to them in the beatitudes; a behaviour that is in stark contrast to the scribes and Pharisees who have forgotten the commandments and have pandered to man-made traditions.
Jesus could have come merely to establish The Law, but He comes to fulfill it; and in doing so He goes way beyond what The Law demanded from Him and by extension, to us. This sets the stage for a scathing attack on the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. In the first of six hyper theses, Jesus demands that the disciples really push the envelope. The JBC says, “The present interpretations emphasize that Jesus seems to go beyond the Old Testament law teachings, by deepening and radicalizing it, by returning to the original will of God.” In lay man’s terms, Jesus finds the traditional interpretations of The Law presented by the Pharisees as inadequate, though not false. He begins by tackling the sixth commandment, “thou shalt not murder” which is found in verses 21-26.