Which we Christians shouldn’t have.
Matthew 5.33-37, 23.16-22
Thus far the Sermon on the Mount stuff has had parallels in the other gospels. This teaching doesn’t. It’s only found in Matthew.
Matthew 5.33-37 KWL
- 33 “Again, you heard this said to the ancients: You will not perjure.
- You’ll make restitution to the Lord for your oaths.
- 34 And I tell you: Don’t swear at all.
- Not ‘By heaven!’—it’s God’s throne.
- Not ‘By the land!’—it’s the footstool of his feet.
- Not ‘By Jerusalem!’—it’s the city of the great King.
- 36 Nor should you swear by your head; you aren’t able to make one hair white or black.
- 37 Make your word, ‘Yes yes; no no.’ Going beyond this is from evil motive.”
Yes, Jesus used to punctuate certain sayings with “Amen amen,”
But there’s a huge difference between the Lord’s motives for swearing an oath, and ours. His is to underline. Ours is to say, “Okay, you know the rest of the time I’m a horrible liar. But now I mean it. Now I’m telling the truth. The rest of the time… well, I’m generally truthful. But now you can trust me. ’Cause I swore to God.” Or one of the other things people swore by in Jesus’s day, like swearing by the land of Israel, swearing by Jerusalem, swearing by one’s head. Nowadays it’s swearing on your mother’s grave, swearing on the lives of your kids, swearing “by all that’s holy.” Whatever you consider holy.
But you see the inherent problem with this, which is what Jesus wanted to highlight: The fact we have to swear to tell the truth, or swear to do what we say we will, implies we’re unreliable liars the rest of the time. Which is not what he wants his people to be.