Unfolding Jesus’ challenging expansion of “You shall not murder”
The first four of the Ten Commandments all have to do with humanity’s relationship to God. These directives came first because our relationship with God should always be the driving factor in our lives. The fifth Commandment focuses on our relationship with our parents and is fashioned after the first four, with honor and respect being paramount. “You shall not murder” is the sixth Commandment. This is the first of the Ten Commandments to focus us on our relationship with all other human beings. It is a simply stated, emphatic directive teaching us about the sacredness of human life. It sets the stage for the rest of the Commandments. But it is not as simple as it sounds. Its importance cannot be overstated! Further, Jesus not only taught its importance, he also dramatically expanded its meaning for his disciples. We will find “You shall not murder” to be a life-governing principle in every corner of our experiences.
Life under the Old Testament Law was in many ways a very black and white experience. The Ten Commandments were concise statements as to how we should act towards God, our families and everyone else. Obey the Commandments and God blesses you, break the Commandments and God is angry with you. “You shall not murder” seems like a no-brainer We all should know this, right? Few ever consider why God made this simple statement part of the ten most basic laws He ever gave to humanity.
First, this particular Commandment has to do with the taking of another’s life outside of acts of war, protection of person and property, and as a consequence of harsh crimes. It is all about an individual taking justice into their own hands. Usually, such an assumption of power is based on hate, jealousy or rage and is not just. Second, this Commandment is making obvious to all humanity that God created humanity in His own image. It is as though God is saying, "You are My children. I directly created you to have dominion on this earth. Human life is sacred in My eyes, so do NOT haphazardly destroy it!"
Understanding God’s perspective helps us dramatically when we fast forward to the New Testament and observe what Jesus taught. Jesus took the “You shall not murder” Commandment and explained it to his disciples in a higher and far more challenging way. He introduced the idea of murdering someone’s character or reputation by the way we talk to them. Not only that, he talked about the accountability for such words in a very pointed way.
Why would Jesus do this? Why would he make “You shall not murder” about what goes on in our heads and with our words? Check out our March 8, 2021 podcast, “Could God Convict Me of Murder?” for more. We dive right into Jesus’ words to find the lessons. Then we look at all the things we as Christians need to be wary of. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how to take the high road in preserving the lives of others rather than damaging them! Study the rest of the Commandments with us to see how they are still valid for Christians today.
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