Jesus in the command not to murder (Exodus 20:13)

Life is a precious gift from God.  He breathed life into Adam (Genesis 2:7) and he sustains the life of every person until the time when his or her days are complete.  Because of this gift of life and the fact that the Lord directs each and ever step, he has commanded that people not take the lives of others.  The reason for this command is found in the psalms.

The ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough. (Psalm 49:8).

When a person takes another’s life, intentionally or unintentionally, by a person, the cost is great, for there is no way to bring that person back to life.  No human can ever offer enough to a family for their loss; no person can ever give enough to God to atone for the sin of killing an image bearer.  No one is able to account for the damage that has been done and so God commands his people to honor and respect life.  Unfortunately there have been countless murders throughout history and an indescribable number of “mental murders”, or hatred as Jesus puts it.

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. (Matthew 5:21-22)

Murder and anger are the result of feeling wronged.  They go with an inflated sense of pride and therefore are another way of showing the great chasm into which sinful humanity has plunged.  But even in this chasm of death, Christ is able to redeem.  He alone can pay the ultimate cost in order to draw men from death to life.  He alone can bring people out of the grave.  He alone is able to set us free from a life of sin and death.

In fact, Peter uses this command in order to convict the crowds of their sin and to present Jesus as their greatest need.  Listen to his words,

You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead.  We are witnesses of this. (Acts 3:15)

That is why Paul is able to proclaim,

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…[because] if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (Romans 8:1, 2 Corinthians 5:17) 

So rejoice that though the root of murder exists in your heart, there is a ransom big enough to free you from its tyranny.

About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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