Epiphany 6A – Sunday 13th February 2011
Matthew 5: 21-37
Have you ever had a moment of perfection?
In the words of Lou Reed, have you ever had a perfect day?
Have you found the perfect place to live? Do you have the perfect job? Are you equipped with the perfect spouse and perfect kids? Do you make a perfect Victoria sponge cake? Ever got perfection in an exam? Did you hit a perfect score? A 180? A 147? A hole in one? (For lovers of darts, snooker and golf).
The closest I ever got to perfection was in a sporting arena – I once managed a cricket hat-trick.
It was a beautiful summer’s day, when the Old Wyggestonians Second XI took on Barrow-on-Soar Second XI, and I was a young, enthusiastic and rugged seam bowler – oh how times have changed. Anyway, I was first change from the pavilion end, and persevered for 17 overs with not a single break through – and conceding 70 odd runs in the process! Then my perfect over began. The top scorer, who taken great delight in slogging me all over the ground, was fooled by a ball that nipped back off the seam and clean bowled! Get in! A tail-ender nervously trudged in and was soon back on the path to the pavilion caught behind.
So the hat trick ball came up and, typically, it wasn’t a good ball. But it flew off a thick edge towards the man at gully.
Now, unfortunately for me, the man stood at gully was my dad! My dad was the opening bowler and number 11 batsmen, and when he wasn’t doing either of those he spent the match avoiding the ball.
So as the ball arrowed towards him I thought my big chance had been and gone and done it. But, lo and behold, my dad extended his right hand and wallop. OUT. One handed. Knee height. AMAZING. Wahoo!
*Sigh!* It’s been a long time since I scaled those heights. Oh for the recklessness of youth.
Perfection. It’s not all it’s made out to be. It’s hard to be at the top of your game day after day.
But a cursory glance through Matthew 5: 21-37 makes you begin to think that that’s what Jesus has on his mind.
“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.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment“.
If the rules weren’t tough enough in the first place, then Jesus has just cranked up the tension. In high jump parlance, for those of us who might have cleared 4’ 11” in the righteousness scale, the bar has just been up to 7’ 6”. No chance!
In the world of blogging I’m very much a novice. But my thoughts have been shaped by several seasoned bloggers whose words have inspired me greatly. Today I’ve been reading the thoughts of Bryan Findlayson at Pumpkin Cottage Publications (I kid you not!), and I loved what he said about this passage.
An exceeding righteousness
Jesus takes four Old Testament Laws, namely: murder, adultery, divorce and oaths. He identifies the divine ideal behind the law. He calls these ideals a “righteousness [that] surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law.” It is a necessary surpassing righteousness required of a person to “enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Yet the truth is, we are unable to keep any of the ten commandments. Some argue that they keep at least 2 out of 10, but in truth we all get angry, we all lust and we all lie, …..; our score is 0 out of 10. In the mini parables, v23-26, 29-30, Jesus reminds us that we need to do something about this situation before it’s all too late.
What we need to do is find someone who is 10 out of 10, knock on his door and ask if we can come in, and there, in the security of his house, weather the threatening storm. It is those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” who “will be filled.”
Brilliant! What a good idea. Find someone 10 out of 10 and knock on his door. After all, when you were a kid didn’t you always sit next to the brightest kid in the spelling test so you could copy their answers? Didn’t you sit next to the pickiest kid at lunch time so you could have their pudding if they didn’t like it? Didn’t you hang about with the biggest kids so the class bully didn’t pick on you? Or was that just me???
Quick, find someone who is 10 out of 10, knock on his door and ask if we can come in, and there, in the security of his house, weather the threatening storm. That’s the best plan I’ve heard in a long time.
And the one to ask? None other than Jesus himself. Who else can live to this level? I’ve not found anyone who can offer a refuge quite like he does. And it’s not just a refuge. We don’t just sit their cowering in the corner whilst the storm rages outside. Jesus is the perfect teacher… is the perfect encourager… is the perfect equipper. Whilst we are in his house he is shaping and moulding us, building us up.
And you know what? No matter what the storm, he always lets us into his house. He never opens the door and says “No, you can’t come in!”
Those moments of perfection in your life are very special. And to be with The Perfect One…?