24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. 25 Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.
Being part of the Sermon on the Mount, we want to review this command in its proper context. What does it mean leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering? From (Verses 1 – 20) Jesus described the characteristics of a true believer in the beatitudes, told us we are salt and we must not hide the light of Christ and the Gospel but display it and be the light of the world. Then as we learned last time we discussed the 50 Commands of Christ, we are to honor God’s law, but what law? Jesus did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill them.
“The scriptures reveal the development of a single Divine thought with several subdivisions that of the grace of God in Jesus Christ for the Redemption of sinners. They show us the bud of the Divine promises gradually opening into a beautiful flower. The coming Christ cast his Shadows before him and finally appears in person.” - Louis Berkhof
All the Scriptures bear witness to Christ. Moses wrote about Christ.All the Scriptures are about Jesus Christ, even where there is no explicit prediction.Jesus came to fulfill all that was written in the Law and the Prophets. All of it was pointing to him, even where it is not explicitly prophetic. He accomplishes what the Law required.All the promises of God in the Old Testament are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.The law was kept perfectly by Christ. And all its penalties against God’s sinful people were poured out on Christ.The blood sacrifices ceased because Christ fulfilled all that they were pointing toward. He was the final, unrepeatable sacrifice for sins.The priesthood that stood between worshiper and God has ceased.The physical temple has ceased to be the geographic center of worship. Now, Christ himself is the center of worship. He is the “place,” the “tent,” and the “temple” where we meet God. Therefore, Christianity has no geographic center, no Mecca, no Jerusalem.The food laws that set Israel apart from the nations have been fulfilled and ended in Christ. Mark 7:18–19, “[Jesus] said to them, . . . ‘Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him?’ . . . (Thus he declared all foods clean.)”The establishment of civil law on the basis of an ethnically rooted people, who are ruled directly by God, has ceased.
“The new is in the old concealed; the old is in the new revealed.” – Augustine.
Then after Jesus makes this powerful statement that He has come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets He begins to reveal His authority by saying “You have heard that the ancients were told… But I say to you”. John Calvin comments: “As the law had been corrupted by false expositions, and turned to a profane meaning, Christ vindicates it against such corruptions, and points out its true meaning.” So in order to understand about be reconciled let read the full context starting at Verse 21 of Matthew Chapter 5.
21 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. 23 Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,
Modern Christianity today likes to make Christian living as comfortable as possible. We get angry we try to justify it, someone offends us we look for excuses to not forgive them, rather than thinking and behaving Biblically we seek an easy escape from obedience. If a brother or sister in Christ offends us it is easier to ignore them or even leave the church to avoid forgiveness and reconciliation. However, what we fail to acknowledge is that we are living in unrepentant sin, and we not only continue to carry that offense, anger and forgiveness in our hearts but from church to church and ultimately, you are not only hurting yourself but bringing sin into every church to run to.
Christ here drew a practical conclusion from what He had declared in the preceding verses, in which He enforces the duty of preserving Christian love and peace between brethren. First, He held up to view the false interpretation of the sixth commandment given by the ancient rabbis and perpetuated by the scribes and Pharisees (v. 21). Second, He gave the true meaning of it (v. 22). And third, He here put forward certain rules of harmony between those in disagreement. If even a secret feeling of anger, and much more so a contemptuous or unrepentant hatred, constitutes in God’s sight a breach of His Law, and that He will not accept the worship of those guilty of such a crime, we must, without delay, remove every root of bitterness that might spring up and produce so deadly a fruit.
For we must remember that we love our enemies because we were once enemies of God and He forgave us. (Romans 5:8-10) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Therefore because of the forgiveness of God’s enemies that while we were sinners Christ does for us (2 Corinthians 5:16-19) from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.