Law & Order (Matthew 5:17-20)
The Scripture at Hand
The Scripture at Hand
Completing God’s Law
17–18 “Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God’s Law or the Prophets. I’m not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama. God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.
19–20 “Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.
Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Mt 5:17–20). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
These people are sitting there on that hillside in disbelief at this point, after they hear that Jesus gives a challenge for them (outcasts and lowly people), to be the salt and light for God’s kingdom on earth as they live for Him.
They are also confused I’m sure hearing this part of the sermon on the mount in verse 17-20 because it was contrary to what they’ve been taught in a way.
Let me ask you something- when you learn something from a young age and then learn it a different way (like common core Math), is it hard to just accept it and move on?
That’s where this crowd is right now.
They have been taught God’s law and have had the Pharisees and Scribes as examples of what it is to know and “live” it out.
The problem is that they have been taught and shown in the wrong way and that is what Jesu is saying.
They were wondering how His teachings related to what they had been taught their whole lives.
They were wondering well what about Moses and the Law??
I mean, God gave His standards for holy living to Moses and in turn to the people.
Jesus says “true righteousness”, that pleases God, must be greater than the Pharisees and Scribes though.
But to this crowd they knew the Pharisees and Scribes were considered the holiest people to live.
So can you imagine what these guys are thinking at this point?
“How in the world are we going to top their righteousness? We’re up a creek without a paddle!! (That’s probably putting it nicely)
Though the sermon on the mount was in the beginning of Jesus’ ministry on earth, He had already begun His ministry earlier on. Prior to this sermon He was tempted in the desert by Satan, baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist, healed many people, and had already preached to many crowds.
The people who were present at this sermon on the mount were His first disciples and I’m sure others who chose to follow Him.
This crowd was not shocked I’m sure that He was who He said He was (although some doubted), but they were shocked because it was a completely knew spin on His teaching.
Before He would preach His deity as well as the coming of the kingdom, but now He is saying He is the complete fulfillment of the law.
To understand this better we need to look at exactly what Jesus was saying about the law:
1. We can seek to destroy the law.
The Pharisee’s already thought Jesus was doing this.
Jesus’ authority never came from any leader or school.
The Pharisee’s and Scribes taught “from authority” but Jesus taught “with authority”.
Not only “His authority” but His activity.
Intentionally healed people on a Sabbath Day and didn’t pay attention to the Pharisee’s traditions
His associations were contrary to the law
He was a friend to all classes of people, especially sinners.
The Scribes- They were the ones who would debate and write down all the rules and regulations in addition to the law.
They broke the law down like this:
If the law was to “Keep the Sabbath holy by resting” they would break it down this way:
“to carry a burden” is to work
Burden is defined as a food equal to the weight of a dried fig, enough wine for mixing in a goblet, milk enough for one drink, honey enough to apply on a small wound, water enough to moisten an eye, paper enough to write a small note, reed enough to make a pen, and so forth...
They would spend all their time debating and putting cases together on those who may or may not have broke any of these rules, laws or traditions in addition to the law.
Called “The Separated Ones”- they literally separated themselves from ordinary activities of life in order to keep all the rules and regulations.
The were, so to speak, the standard of holy living.
An interesting fact:
The Scribes took 613 commandments, rules, regulations, traditions and examples (without number) in the mid-3rd century and complied them into what is known as the Mishnah.
The Mishnah was broken down into 63 subjects on various parts of the law, in english it equates to about 800 pages.
Later the Mishnah was broken down into commentaries by Jewish Scholars called Talmuds.
Jerusalem Talmud = 12 Volumes
Babylonian Talmud = 60 Volumes
The correct interpretation of “the law” today as we read it in the Bible are the 10 commandments, the first 5 books of the Bible (called the Pentateuch) and the whole of Scripture.
The Pharisee’s and Scribes were destroying the law by their added rules, regulations and traditions.
They lived an artificial faith. They never allowed God’s law to truly penetrate their hearts.
Jesus was making it clear to His audience that He respects the “true law”, not the artificial law that the Pharisee’s and Scribes created.
2. We can seek to fulfill the law.
a. Jesus fulfilled God’s law in every aspect of His life.
In His birth (Galatians 4:4)
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
In His teaching (Matthew 5:17)
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
Romans 3:21-24 (READ FROM BIBLE)
In His death & resurrection
Romans 3:25-31 (READ FROM BIBLE)
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”
He set aside the Old Covenant and brought in the New Covenant
Simply put: Jesus did not destroy the law, He fulfilled it as was God’s plan all along. He ushered in God’s grace to save us from the demands and penalties of the law.
His disciples would not fully understand this until His death and resurrection was complete, when He said “it is finished”.
How can we fulfill the law today? (PUT IN THE BULLETIN)
Through the Holy Spirit
By dying to the law to live by the Holy Spirit
Romans 7:4-6 (READ FROM BIBLE)
By loving God and loving others
Romans 13:8-10 (READ FROM BIBLE)
By living for God & allowing Christ to live in us
Galatians 3:19-21 (READ FROM BIBLE)
3. We can seek to do and teach God’s Law.
The law can serve as a mirror to guide our lives
1 Timothy 1:8-11
It’s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say. It’s obvious, isn’t it, that the law code isn’t primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, sex, truth, whatever! They are contemptuous of this great Message I’ve been put in charge of by this great God.
God’s Law shows the sin that keeps us from a relationship with Him.
But God’s law requires us to share the grace that comes through forgiveness.
God’s moral law has not changed.
9 of the 10 commandments were repeated and commanded in the NT
The “keeping of the Sabbath Day” was strictly given as a command to the people of Israel as a sign.
To summarize the law- we do not obey an external law because of fear, believers today obey this law because of love.
See when we focus on the law to slam people or shame and guilt them we often become no better than the Scribes or the Pharisees.
And when we continue to make ourselves a slave to the law and not fully give our hearts to the Lord, we become no better than the Scribes and Pharisees.
Not only that, if we can’t fulfill the whole law we still aren’t righteous according to it. It’s all or nothing if we judge by the law.
The Scribes and Pharisee’s failed to satisfy the heart and mind.
They were self righteous and glorified themselves, not God.
This was Jesus’ exact point. And that was Jesus’ exact warning to His followers on this hillside.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Jesus wants to take our burdens. He wanted to take the burdens of the Scribes and Pharisees, too.
He came so we didn’t have to live as slaves to the law but free in Him.
Only Jesus offers that freedom.
For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
We can often get hung up on this verse ourselves and think we have fallen short of where we need to be.
If you’re at that place, good. Listen to this..
READ ROMANS 3:21-31
This is what Jesus said about Pharisees...
In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
Everyone falls short.
But the good news is… Jesus came to save short people!
That’s me and it’s you.
So the question now is, “How do we know if we have the kind of righteousness that Jesus wants us to have?”
If we are judgmental, self seeking or prideful it’s probably a good time to turn over your heart to the Lord.
But Jesus does give us a clear answer but it won’t be quick.
This is what the whole sermon on the mount is.
Now that Jesus gets His audience’s attention, after shaking their religious beliefs to the core, he expands and over the next 27 verses defines God’s law- not on how people behave BUT in terms of who they really are. (5:21-48).
An outline would look like this:
Our righteousness is evident in our...
Attitudes (Matthew 5:21-48- Anger, Lust & Marriages)
Desires (Matthew 6:1-18- Giving, Prayer & Fasting)
Ambitions (Matthew 6:19-34- Finances & Worry)
Relationships (Matthew 7:1-6- Judging One Another)
Foundations (Matthew 7:7-28- Life, Salvation & Doctrine… and building a house)
I don’t know about you all, but I have learned so much through this sermon on the mount series in my studies and I’m excited to continue to through it.
Lastly I would add that,
“Christmas is really God initiating a physical and supernatural relationship with mankind through the gift of His son Jesus; which ultimately resulted in shattering all rules, regulations, traditions and sin- to make a way for permanent forgiveness, and eternal salvation- for people like me and you.”
This Christmas I would encourage you to remember this and read the Christmas story from Luke 2 with your kids. Prayer together as a family. Take a minute to recognize the importance of this season, as I know many of you do.
And if we don’t see you Christmas Eve at 6pm (which I hope you will be able to make it), on behalf of FCC leadership we love you guys and hope you have an amazing Christmas.