Most of us think of Jesus as kind and loving, but what about His intelligence? It seems obvious that He is smart, but if Jesus is who He claims to be and who we believe Him to be then He was the smartest human ever. He had insight into God, the world, and human nature. If we didn’t think Jesus was smart, why would we even follow Him? Even further, Jesus is the wonderful counselor. In the Sermon on the Mount, He takes us to the real problem below the surface.

It is rarely about the presenting issue. Any counselor worth their salt knows that there is more below the surface, much like an iceberg. 90% of the iceberg is below the surface and cannot be seen. Similarly, the iceberg of the human personality is mostly unseen. When we see people, we see their behavior, but that is only 10% of who they are. We can’t see their thoughts, intentions, desires, or feelings.

Jesus takes us below the waterline to get to the root of the issue. Not to make us feel bad but to help us thrive.

He starts by addressing a topic that seems easy to avoid: murder. Matthew 5:21 “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.” This is the sixth of the Ten Commandments. Matthew 5:22 “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment…” Jesus is taking the issue of murder further to the issue of anger. He is not replacing the law, but He is expanding on and explaining the depth of this commandment.

What does it mean to be angry?
We know Jesus can’t be saying that anger is a sin. He himself was angry at times. All anger is not bad. In fact, anger is a vital feeling that indicates safety and boundaries. The anger Jesus describes is not anger at a situation but anger at a person. This is a personal animosity. Matthew 5:22 “… 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.” The word “Raca” is an Aramaic term meaning “empty.” Essentially, this word is used similarly to “stupid.” The Greek word that has been translated into “fool” is the root word for “moron.” Raca is an attack on intelligence; fool is an attack on character.

Proverbs 18:21 “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Words are powerful and can cut deeper than physical injuries.

Jesus is exposing what is underneath.

Murder is a symptom; anger is the deeper issue. Calling someone stupid is a symptom; anger is the deeper issue. When Jesus said do not murder, He did not mean simply the violent act of killing someone. Murder is an attitude of the heart. This attitude is present any time you have contempt for someone else. Jesus says the punishment for both physical murder and the attitude of the heart is the same.

Jesus is revealing the seriousness of what’s beneath.

In Matthew 5:22, He illustrates the destruction and ruin that this anger creates. Anger is so serious to Jesus because human beings are emotional and spiritual beings made in the image of God and of incalculable worth to Him.

Jesus is inviting us to deal with what’s underneath.

He is shining a light on the deep issue of anger and saying, “Let’s deal with that.” It is much harder to face those deeply rooted emotions and brokenness than to simply modify your behavior.

Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” Jesus is describing one of the most important events in the life of someone who loves God. A couple of times a year, you would make the journey on foot to Jerusalem to offer a sacrifice. When you finally arrive, you have to go through several rituals and cleansings to even be allowed into the temple. Finally, you get to the altar, you prepare to make your sacrifice, and at that exact moment, you remember that your brother or sister is upset with you. Jesus says leave. Go and make that situation right. Then, come back to make your offering. The purpose of the sacrifice was to fix your broken relationship with God. Jesus is showing us that you can’t be right with God until you’re right with your brother or sister.

What does it mean to be right with somebody? If you have done something to hurt your brother or sister and you are aware of it, it is up to you to reconcile that relationship. How have you contributed to the problem? The costly, inconvenient way of Jesus is to go and make it right.

Restoring broken relationships is more important than you know and more urgent than you realize.
Attend to the relational brokenness in your life.

Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Peacemaking is very different from and much more difficult than peacekeeping. Start with the three hardest words to say… “I was wrong.” Regardless of how wrong they were, you can only take responsibility for and repair your portion of the blame.

Jesus is the ultimate peacemaker. Through the power and truth of the gospel, we can follow Jesus into these difficult and uncomfortable situations.