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Matthew 5:17-20

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Illustration-Reading the OT is hard.

Matthew 5:17 NASB95
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.
When Jesus refers here to the Law of the prophets, he is referring to the Old Testament.
He does this often.
He calls it the Law and the Prophets, quite frankly because that is how the people of this day would have known it.
We know it as the Old Testament, but for them, there was nothing Old about it. It was their testament. This is what they had. It was in the Law and the Prophets that God had made himself known to them.
It was the stipulations of the covenant God had made with them.
These Jews and even these religious rulers and Pharisees would have studied the Law and sought vigorously to keep the Law.
And Jesus is about to explain to them that they really have not kept it as well as they might have thought.
Jesus is going to do this not by telling them not to follow the Law of God.
He isn’t coming to abolish the Law of God or the prophets.
In other words, Jesus is saying, I am not coming to speak against what has been said, promised, or prophesied. I am coming to fulfill it. The Word here means to make full. To bring to completion.
I am coming to expose the meaning of the Law in its most full sense.
The problem Jesus is dealing with is this:
The Pharisees (those who claimed to know the Law and even to be experts on the Law)and then the Jews who were under the teaching of the Pharisees would have misunderstood the purpose of the Law because they were under the teaching of those who misunderstood the Law.
So when Jesus corrects them, they perceived it as Jesus abolishing the Law.
But here is the issue, Jesus was not abolishing the Law, he was fulfilling the Law. He is explaining exactly what the Law means.
And he is going to expose the purpose of the Law.
This is why beginning iin verse 27 and following, Jesus issues correction on the common teaching and what is truly the heart of the Law.
We see this formula:
You have heard it said.... But I say to you...
Matthew 5:27–28 NASB95
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
We will get to this in more detail, but you get the picture.
Jesus is not doing away with the Law, he is explaining it further.
So again, Jesus is not nullying cancelling, or even altering these commands,
He is establishing the original intent of them and along the way fulfilling them in his own life in perfect obedience.
This is what he means in verse 17
Matthew 5:17 NASB95
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.
He goes on to explain the permanence and surety of what God has said previously being fulfilled. Nothing is done away with. It is merely fulfilled.
There are things that happen through Christ that fulfill the Law in such a way that those things which were previously in place to point forward to Christ, those things are no longer to be practiced.
Sacrifice- Jesus is the true and better sacrifice. He fulfilled it. It doesn’t mean he abolished the sacrificial system, he fulfilled the sacrificial system.
Priest- Jesus is the true and better priest.
Temple- We are now the temple of God.
Its fulfilled. Not abolished, those things in the Old Testament are fulfilled in Christ.
He is the substance of the picture.
Picture of a steak or a Steak- Which would you rather have?
It is brought to its completion. And this will happen completely.
Look at verse 18 as he continues to make this argument
Matthew 5:18 NASB95
“For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
The King James says it this way-
Matthew 5:18 KJV 1900
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Not even the smallest stroke.
The iota in Greek. the yod in Hebrew

The iota is the smallest Greek vowel, which Matthew here uses to represent the Hebrew yod [yôḏ; י] (jot), the smallest Hebrew letter. “Tittle” is from the Latin titulus which came to mean the stroke above an abbreviated word, then any small mark. It is not certain here whether κερεα [kerea] means a little horn, the mere point which distinguishes some Hebrew letters from others or the “hook” letter Vav [wāw; ו]. Sometimes yod [yôḏ; י] and vav [wāw; ו] were hardly distinguishable.

Every promise will be completed. Not even the slightest mark will be left undone.
And every promises finds its completion in Christ.
Jesus is the one to whom the OT points and foreshadows, but now the shadow has given way to the substance.
2 Corinthians 1:20 NASB95
For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.
The promises are yes. In our words, they are done, completed in him.
Colossians 2:16–17 NASB95
Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.
Even the sabbath and the new moons and festivals are shadow, but Christ fulfills the Sabbaths and the festivals.
All the promises of God are fulfilled and will be fulfilled in the sending of the Son.
So we cant throw the OT out, we merely recognize that the OT was pointing forward to Jesus.
So when we read the OT we do so as Christians not as Jews. Which means we read the OT with Christ as our spectacles. We see it all as pointing to the fullest revelation, which is Jesus.
Matthew 5:19 NASB95
“Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Again we do not ignore the Law and the Prophets.
You should be reading all of Scripture.
Its all inspired.
the Old Testament reveals to us the character of God.
In fact all of the 10 commandments are repeated in the New Testament.
Jesus quotes from the Old Testament when telling us how to live.
We keep the commandments. We teach the commandments.
Why because God’s character has not changed.
Some things have been fulfilled, but his moral character and his expectation of holiness remains constant.
This is why he mentions here that we must keep and teach these things.
The LAW is the standard of God.
And we must do it perfectly to meet his standard.
Look what he says in verse 20
Matthew 5:20 NASB95
“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
We are a little removed from the context here, but basically Jesus would have blew their minds here.
The Scribes and the Pharisees were the most holy people around them.
But listen to what Jesus does.
He disqualifies them all.
They must exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees.
that is to say that not even their righteousness was good enough.
What is Jesus saying here?
He is exposing the real intention of the Law.
The Law of God is the perfect standard of God and not even those who made it their job to keep it were good enough. Their righteousness was not good enough.
And neither will ours be.
Isaiah 64:6 NASB95
For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
This is why we need the Gospel. This is why the Jews need the Gospel.
Paul says that Jesus has done all that is necessary for us and if we seek to try and get their on our own we will fail.
Romans 10:1–4 NASB95
Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
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