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