33 Again you have heard that the people of long ago said: “You shall not give false testimony, but keep the oaths that you have made to the Lord.”
34 However, I tell you not to swear at all, neither by heaven, because that is God’s throne;
35 neither by the earth, because it is the footstool for His feet; neither by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great king.
36 neither should you swear by your head, since you are not able to make one hair white or black.
37 but let your word be ‘Yes, yes; no, no’; anything more than this is from the evil one.
Most of us are brought up to tell the truth and to keep any promise that we have made.
In a recent study it was discovered that children find that it is relatively easy to tell a lie, especially if it means that they will avoid getting themselves into trouble. Perhaps we have all done this during our childhood.
Also, the truth is that children have to be taught to tell the truth and what the consequences are of not being truthful.
Jesus spoke about making oaths. An oath is a promise, or a vow, such as is made during the wedding ceremony, when a man and woman make their promises to one another to remain faithful to each other as long as they shall live.
There are many other times when we make promises to other people, especially in a court of law.
During the time of Jesus the Jews held that there were two kinds of oaths. An oath which involved the name of the Lord God, and then there was an oath which did not involve His name.
It was generally held that any oath, promise, or vow that involved God’s name must not be broken.
W Barclay tells us that if God’s name was involved in any oath, then God, Himself, was involved. Therefore, the oath must not be broken.
To break such a promise was to break the command:
“You must not misuse the name of the LORD your God. The LORD will not let you go unpunished if you misuse His name” – Exodus 20.7 (NLT).
It is this that Jesus is referring to in verse 33.
To involve God in any promise, and then to deliberately break that promise was to misuse God’s name in order to gain a selfish advantage.
This is like the persons in court who take the oath by swearing by Almighty God to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and then goes on to deliberately tell lies to the court. This is perjury before the court, and also perjury before God.