I want to press on with the next requirement in the sermon because it gives us the next example of biblical requirements:
“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
That next example is requirements that seem silly. Don’t swear? One of the judges did swear to offer as a burnt offering the first thing that came up to him upon his return from a battle if God would let him win. The first thing to come up was his daughter. See Judges 11. Also weird.
So, Jesus tells us 1) Do Not Hate 2) Do Not Lust 3) Do Not Get Divorced & 4)Do Not Take Oaths.
One way to handle these dictates is to consider some more serious than others. The less serious ones are easier to disregard, particularly because they are so tied to cultural context. Another way to do it is to say that there is an essence in these teachings, more fundamental truths if you will, that is what we really need to follow. In some sense, isn’t that what Jesus is saying with the entire sermon?
Of course, Jesus is providing an interpretation of the essence of the Torah, and now I’m suggesting we look for the essence of Jesus’ teachings. But, we have to do something, right? Or as Christians, should we not take oaths?