27“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.
31“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
33“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ 34But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.
In the past few weeks maybe you have recovered some neglected habits—hobbies, exercises, cooking. The “Sermon on the Mount” reminds us that confession is a habit, too. When we confess, we tell the ugly truth about ourselves. God doesn’t want our, “I promise to better” excuses. (God knows us too well for that.) A simple yes or no will suffice. Yes, I need God’s forgiveness. No, I do not require anything else.
God, we thank you for your eternal Yes to us, in the grace of Jesus Christ. There is no other Lord for us—but your grace is sufficient. All praise to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Art: Bruegel, Jan, 1568-1625. Sermon on the Mount, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55346 [retrieved May 4, 2020]. Original source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Sermon_on_the_Mount_by_Jan_Brueghel_the_Elder,_Getty_Center.jpg.