I have often heard people say that the God of the Old Testament is angry, stern and demanding. They will point to places like the Ten Commandments to illustrate a legalistic and demanding God. Then they will talk about the merciful and loving Jesus who is so different in the New Testament. He seems gentle and kind and doesn’t worry about the rules.
Yet today, Jesus not only underlines the commands of God, but adds even more nuance to them. So it is not enough to refrain from murdering a brother or sister. Jesus says we also have to watch our words, for even getting angry with our brother or our sister is breaking the commandment! Thus, Jesus does not ease the responsibility but actually raises the bar for us. In these days when “everything is OK,” we need to hear Jesus’ words of challenge and invitation to living an even better life with greater and higher standards.