The section of the Sermon on the Mount that we’ll hear Sunday begins with a series of six statements from Jesus that contain what scholars call “antitheses,” “oppositions,” or “contrasts.”
Each of the teachings follows the same basic pattern:
“You have heard that it was said… But I say to you…”
In these contrasts, Jesus takes on some of the most controversial -- and relevant to everyday life -- issues of his day:
Murder and anger.
Adultery and lust.
Oaths and public integrity.
What to make of our revenge in responding to evil doers.
Who to love, and how to treat one’s enemies.
These issues, of course, still are controversial and relevant in and of themselves. But what makes them even more controversial and relevant to our everyday lives is what Jesus does with them.
In each case, he states what the Law -- biblical teaching, or religion -- requires. He then raises the bar in one of …