Jesus’ teaching on murder, referencing the 6th of Moses’ Ten Commandments, was more than just a difficult standard to achieve. It demanded that his hearers view him as either God himself, or at the very least, as equal with God.
In ancient days, all teachers of Scripture used “borrowed authority” as the means of justifying their teachings. Rabbis quoted the Law and the prophets, and cited esteemed rabbinical leaders of the past to support their opinions. Prophets spoke as ambassadors of God, couching their every message in phrases like, “Thus says the Lord.” Had Jesus been simply another teacher or prophet of that kind, he would have done the same.
But he didn’t.
Jesus declared, “You have heard that it was said…but I tell you…” to emphasize his total authority as the human incarnation of the divine. The “I” in this phrase is rendered as an emphatic utterance, which could almost be interpreted as “I!” As one classic theologian explained, “Christ claims for his words the same authority, and more than the same authority, as for those once spoken by God.” That was, and still is, a very serious claim.
Jesus apparently saw no need to appeal to any other authority but himself while teaching the true meaning of God’s Word, because he considered himself to be God who authored that Word.
[IB7, 295; PC15, 159]
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