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What Matters to Our Master?

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What Matters to Our Master?

Matthew 5:17-26

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - March 20, 2013

*Some things matter to us and some things don't. Jim Kane reminds us in a little memory quiz that included these fill-in-the-blank questions:

1. Name the last 5 Academy Award winners for best actor.

2. Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest.

3. Name the last 10 winner of the World Series.

*Very few people would know the answer to even one of those questions, but how about these questions:

1. Name a few teachers who helped your journey through school.

2. Name 3 friends who helped you through a tough time.

3. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.

*The people who matter to us are not the ones with the most money or awards. They are the ones who cared. They are the ones who got involved in our lives. (1)

*Some things really matter to us and some things don't, but what about God? What really matters to the Lord God Almighty? Our Scripture tonight helps us to see.

1. And one of the things that matters the most to God is righteousness.

[1] We know this first, because here Jesus reaffirms the righteousness found in the Old Testament Law and the Prophets.

*There may have been some legalistic, unbelieving Pharisees listening to the Lord, and thinking: "I know this pretender is going to try to do away with God's Word and start a new religion." There also may have been some people there looking for loopholes, so they could live any old ungodly way. But Jesus knew their thoughts, and He took a strong stand for the righteous way of life commanded in the Old Testament.

*Listen to the Lord in vs. 17&18:

17. "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

18. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

*A "jot" was the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet. "Tittle" literally means a little horn, so it's a little stroke on a letter of the alphabet. The Lord is telling us here that when it comes to His law and His Word, He is dotting the "I's" and crossing the "T's". And Jesus said: "Assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled."

*When we think of Jesus Christ, who He is, and all He came to do, one of the key words is "fulfillment." Jesus came to completely fulfill every part of God's Word and all of His commandments. We see this truth over and over again in the New Testament.

*For example, in Matthew 1, when the angel appeared to Joseph to announce the birth of Jesus, the Word of God says:

22. Now all this was done that it might be FULFILLED which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:

23. "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name 'Immanuel,' which is translated, 'God with us.'"

*In the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before the cross, Peter had drawn his sword and slashed the servant of the high priest. And in Matthew 26:52-54, Jesus said to Peter:

52. . . "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.

53. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?

54. How then could the Scriptures be FULFILLED, that it must happen thus?"

*When Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to the Apostles. He ate with them. And in Luke 24:

44. Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be FULFILLED which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me."

45. And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

*Jesus Christ is completely committed to fulfill His Word, including every letter of His Law. But what does His commitment have to do with us as believers? Everything, because the Lord's fulfillment of the Law was the only way the righteousness of God's Law could be fulfilled in us.

*As Romans 8:1-4 says:

1. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

3. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

4. That the righteousness of the law might be FULFILLED in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

[2] Righteousness matters to God. -- Jesus reaffirmed it. And in vs. 19, He rewards it.

*Here the Lord said:

19. "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

[3] Righteousness matters to God. -- Jesus rewards it. And in vs. 20, He requires it.

*Here Jesus warned us with these words: "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."

*There's a big "uh-oh" for us in this verse, because nobody ever tried harder to keep the Old Testament Law than the scribes and Pharisees. And they couldn't pull it off. That's why in Ecclesiastes 7:20, King Solomon said "There is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin." No one has ever been able to keep the Old Testament law except Jesus Christ Himself.

[4] And righteousness matters to God. -- Jesus requires it. He even raised the bar on the Old Testament standard.

*We begin to see this truth in vs. 21&22, where Jesus said:

21. "You have heard that it was said to those of old, `You shall not murder,' and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.

22. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire."

*Commenting on vs. 22, A.T. Robertson said: "Jesus thus assumes a tone of superiority over the Mosaic regulations and proves it in each of the six examples. He goes further than the Law into the very heart." (2)

*So as Jesus began to raise the bar on Old Testament Law, He turned the focus from our hands to our heart. As Rodney Buchanan said: "Jesus focused on internals more than externals." (3)

*The ungodly anger in vs. 22 starts in our hearts, and it leads to ungodly words. "Raca" means empty-headed or someone with no sense. The original word for "fool" here is where we get our word "moron," but it means more than that. Calling someone a fool the way that Jesus is talking about here is to judge them and condemn them as a wicked, godless man.

*That condemnation starts in the heart, and it goes along with what Tyler talked about Sunday: Cleaning the inside of the cup. Jesus cares more about the inside than the outside. He cares more about our heart, because all sin starts in the heart.

*And as we go through the Sermon on the Mount, we will see Jesus continue to raise the bar on Old Testament Law. Jesus set a standard of righteousness that is impossibly high for natural man. And He summed it up in Matthew 5:48 by saying: "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect."

*Anybody here been perfect today? -- I doubt it, but maybe. Have you ever been perfect for a week, a month or a year? -- No way. What are we going to do? Without God's grace and mercy, we would surely be condemned forever to hell.

*God's standard for going to Heaven is His perfect righteousness. How are we going to get it? It can only come by the grace of God. It can only come by the cross of Jesus Christ. It can only come by the work of God in our lives.

*That's why in Romans 1:16&17, Paul said:

16. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

17. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith.''

*And in Romans 3:19-24, Paul said:

19. Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

20. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

21. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,

22. even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;

23. for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

24. being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

*The cross of Jesus Christ shows us the seriousness of our sin. And only the cross can save us from our sin. Corrie Ten Boom once put it this way: "In the forest fire, there is always one place where the fire cannot reach. It is the place where the fire has already burned itself out. The cross is the place where the fire of God's judgment against sin burned itself out completely. It is there that we are safe." (4)

*So, we must run to the cross! Put your trust in Jesus Christ. Receive Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. Then you will have the righteousness that God alone can give. Plus you will have the power to live the righteous life God wants us to live. And that matters.

*What matters to our Master? Righteousness matters.

2. And relationships matter.

*We can see this truth in vs. 23&24, where Jesus said:

23. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,

24. leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

*God deeply cares about our relationships. And here the Lord focused on our relationships with other people. God deeply cares about our relationships. When you get down to the bottom of it, that's the main purpose for God's laws.

*God gave His laws so we won't hurt ourselves, we won't hurt other people, and we won't hurt Him. Ephesians 4:30 tells us that the Holy Spirit is grieved by our sins.

God cares about relationships. Remember the Lord's answer to this question in Matthew 22:

36. "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"

37. Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'

38. This is the first and great commandment.

39. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'

40. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.'"

*All of the Law and the Prophets hang on relationships: Our relationship with God, and our relationships with each other. Here in vs. 23&24, Jesus put the focus on our relationships with other people. But most of all, God cares about our relationship with Him.

*God the Father cares so much that He sent Hs only begotten Son into the world. God the Son, Jesus Christ cares so much that He died on the cross for us. God the Holy Spirit cares so much that He comes to live in our hearts, gives us eternal life, and makes us a child of God, when we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. We get a new, eternal relationship with God that can make a difference in every other relationship we have.

*I like the testimony Martin Dale gave about the change Jesus brings. Martin said: "When I became a Christian, the words of the Bible took on new significance. They seem to jump out of the page like a living Book. They spoke to me and spoke into my life.

*If you hang around someone long enough the character of that person rubs off on you. And the same is true with Jesus. His character will be formed in us as we abide in Him. As we spend time in prayer, reading God's word, and listening to what He says to us, we will get to know Him. Going to church is not enough. We must get to know Jesus.

*Keith Green once said: 'Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to McDonalds makes you a hamburger.' But when we get to know Jesus, and stay close to Jesus, He will change us." (5)

*And that change can bring the kind of relational healing the Lord is seeking in vs. 23&24. We don't want to be like the lady who wrote a letter to Billy Graham. She said: "I'm in my 80's and all alone, and I know it's my own fault. I went through life being disagreeable, and demanding that everybody do things my way, and all my relatives turned against me. Maybe someone will learn from my life. I wish I could live it over." (6)

*Unfortunately, we can't go back. But God can start something new in our lives tonight! You may have been beaten down by life. You may be put down by your own family. And their criticism may be true. But I want remind you that you are incredibly valuable in the sight of God. He can take us right where we are and do something amazing with our lives!

*As Sydney Harris once said: "Nobody can go back and make a new beginning. But anyone can start today and make a new ending." (7)

*Do it! -- Because it matters, and especially because it matters to God. What matters to our Master? Relationships matter.

3. And reconciliation matters.

*This is part of the Lord's message to us in vs. 23-24. Again, Jesus said:

23. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,

24. leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

*Reconciliation is needed because we are all sinners. And in the next two verses, Jesus stresses that whenever we are in the wrong, we need to rush to make things right.

*As the Lord said in vs. 25&26:

25. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you are thrown into prison.

26. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny."

*Now is the time for action! Now is the time to do all we can to make things right. Delay can be dangerous. And reconciliation is needed because we are all sinners.

*Barriers will rise up in every relationship. That's why Cliff Barrows said that there are twelve words that are absolutely essential for a good marriage:

-"I was wrong."

-"I am sorry."

-"Please forgive me."

-"I love you."

*And those twelve words are required for more than marriage. Barrows said, "Any relationship has to have those twelve words in it or it simply won't work." Melvin Newland added, "In any relationship, if we aren't willing to say, 'I'm wrong,' or 'I'm sorry,' or 'Please forgive me,' or admit that we love each other, and desire to forgive one another, then reconciliation can never take place." (8)

*But reconciliation can take place. And through Jesus Christ, we can have the greatest reconciliation of all! So in Romans 5:10-11, Paul said:

10. For if when 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.

11. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.


*Here's what matters to our Savior Jesus Christ: Righteousness, relationships, and reconciliation, reconciliation with God, and reconciliation with one another.

*Let's focus on these things as we go to the Lord in prayer.

(1) Adapted from SermonCentral illustration contributed by Jim Kane and SermonCentral sermon "One Can Make a Difference!" by Leland Patrick - Luke 19:1-10

(2) "Robertson's Word Pictures" by Archibald Thomas Robertson - Matthew 5:22

(3) Original source for Rodney Buchanan quote unknown

(4) sermon "When Nothing Else Would Work" - I Chronicles 36: 14-23; Ephesians 2: 4-10; John 3: 14-21 - email 03262003

(5) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "Abide in Me" by Martin Dale - John 15:1-17

(6) Rev. Billy Graham, "The Knoxville News-Sentinel" - Source: "Dynamic Illustrations" - Jul-Aug-Sep 2002 - Attitude

(7) Original source unknown

(8) SermonCentral sermon "Love Does Not Boast" by Melvin Newland - 1 Corinthians 13:4

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