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Matthew 5:17-20

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  • Samuel Wilson
  • Weekend Messages
  • June 24, 2018

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture
Stay on Course

Matthew 5:17-20

Intro: Just another 5 minutes.

As we continue the sermon on the mount, we know that many have come from distances near and far to hear Jesus speak.

Becoming a follower of Jesus meant that there would be inward change, but also, an outward reflection in the world. He started out with the Beatitudes and pointed them toward the inward attitudes to take in pursuit a blessed (exceedingly happy) life. He continued by telling His followers that they are the salt and light of the world, a city on a hill, as he directs His followers toward living with purpose in this world.

Jesus way of teaching was radical and He spoke and taught in ways the people of His day had never heard before. Because of his radical message and approach, some had begun to question what Jesus thought about the Law and the Prophets. Today, we will understand what Jesus thinks of the Bible.

Read: Matthew 5:17-20

  • Like those who were standing and listening to Jesus give this sermon, we also recognize that there are so many voices, so many people, so many opinions regarding scripture. We can easily get lost in interpretations or in what someone else thinks, but Jesus points us toward the significance of the Bible and the certainty of all that has been written. 

I. Listen to Jesus

  • In verse 17, Jesus begins a discussion of the law, and He wanted to make it clear that He was not out to destroy or stand in opposition to what God gave Israel in what we call the Old Testament.
  • The Jewish people of Jesus’ day, most often referred to the Old Testament as the law and the prophets (Matthew 7:12, 11:13, 22:40; Luke 16:16; John 1:45; Acts 13:15, 28:23; Romans 3:21).
  • Jesus did not come to destroy, but to fulfill, and to free it from the way it was being wrongly interpreted.
  • Jesus’ warning of ‘do not think,’ indicates that most who were following Him had a wrong interpretation of His teaching.
  • Traditional Jews considered the rabbinic instructions to be the proper interpretations of the law of Moses. Many concluded that because Jesus did not follow these traditions, He was doing away with the law, or making it of little importance.
  • We see the Scribes who worked our rules and regulation and the Pharisees who separated themselves from all ordinary activities in life to keep these rules outwardly.
  • There were commands in scripture and then supplementary rules and restriction.
  • Take for example the command not to work on the sabbath. Carrying a burden was then made a form of work. 
  • Then comes the question, what is a burden?

Illus. Burden = Food equal to the weight of a fig, enough wine for mixing in a goblet, milk enough for one to swallow, honey enough to put on a wound, oil enough to anoint a small member of the body, ink enough to write two letters of the alphabet, reed enough to make a pen…You get the picture. To carry anything more than that was to break a law.

  • Since it was not possible to cover everything, much time was spent debating whether a person could move their lamp to the other side of the room. 

Illus. This is in some ways illustrated by modern day orthodox Jews. Can we call the fire department?

  • This had become the essence of religion for the Scribes and Pharisees.
  • Jesus was not coming to abolish truth, law, morals, or real right and wrong…Rather, He was coming to make right what was wrong. It was in Him that all would find true rest and holiness (Heb. 4:1-11).
  • To “fulfill” then, as Christ suggests, points us toward His coming to bring out the full meaning of the Old Testament, as the fulfillment of all to which they pointed.
  • Jesus would also bring the Old Testament law and promises to their destined end or intended completion.
  • Through Christ then, the Old Testament law is not rescinded, but must be re-applied in the light of Jesus, His life, His death, burial and resurrection.
  • Jesus as the perfect sacrifice fulfilled many of the laws surrounding worship, sacrifice, demonstrated civil law by example and obeyed moral law completely.
  • Jesus would bring into reality all that God commanded or promises.
  • The scriptures would not be abolished, destroyed, disrespected or disobeyed, but fulfilled and in some cases, reinterpreted. 

2 Timothy 3:16, All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.

  • There is an interesting Greek translation to the word “all” in 2 Timothy 3:16. It means all.
  • Jesus fulfilled the law and the prophets by living a perfect life, sinless life, embodying all its commands in His own life.
  • There is a relationship between God and humanity that Jesus did not come to abolish but fulfill. Within what is revealed in scripture, right and wrong can be understood, applied and actualized. 

Illus. Prayer to an unknown god.

  • Jesus makes sure that we know His purpose, mission and aim. Not to abolish, but to fulfill. 

A.You can depend on every word

Matthew 5:18, 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.

  • Jesus used the words “for truly I say to you” many times in His speaking.
  • The word “truly,” is also translated “verily” in other translation.
  • The Greek word translated truly or verily is a word we are familiar with, it’s the word “amen.”

Illus. When we use it at the end of a prayer, the word literally means “so be it.” Jesus, however, often used this before a statement or giving a message.

  • It is a signal to those listening and to us who are studying that what He is about to say is of vital importance. Essentially, He is saying listen up! 

Illus. The yod (jot)(◊ô), the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet; it looks like half a letter. Thetittleis a small mark in a Hebrew letter, somewhat like the crossing of a “t” or the tail on a “y.”

  • By making this statement, Jesus is certifying the importance and authority of every word and letter of scripture. 

Illus. Message prep, 101.

  • Right down to the smallest detail, it will all be fulfilled. 

Matthew 24:35. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Psalm 119:89-92, Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations; You established the earth, and it stands. That stand this day according to your ordinances, for all things are your servants. If your law had not been my delight, the I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them You have revived me.

  • Jesus says not one apostrophe of His word will pass away until all is accomplished.
  • The requirements of the Law were kept perfectly by Jesus. Those who are in Christ are not able to avoid the Law, to look beyond. Rather, those of us in Christ walk with the confidence that while the righteousness of the law has not been fulfilled by us, it is fulfilled in us.

Romans 8:3-4, For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do no walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

  • We can depend on every promise given. God sent His own Son – so that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled not by us, but in us, and we have been made free. 
Matthew 5:20, For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
  • The law won’t get us there. 

Galatians 2:21, I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ dies needlessly.

Romans 10:4, For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. 

A.The choice is yours

  • Not only to accept that truth personally, but how you live inside of that promise.

Matthew 5:19, Whoever then annuls one of the lease 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. 

  • Jesus is pointing here to a reciprocal relationship between the way I treat what is found in scripture and my experience in the kingdom.

Illus. Job experience.

  • Jesus is highlighting a dynamic in the Christian life. Whoever keeps (practices) and teaches the commandments in the Bible will be called great.
  • The commands are certainly inclusive of moral law, the ten commandments, but also looking at scripture the way Jesus looks at scripture.
  • Not setting it aside when my ideals conflict, or the cultural norms become in opposition. Rather, doing what the Bible actually says.
  • To Jesus, the scripture is true, authentic and valuable and trustworthy.
  • How we look at the Bible, how we understand it and follow it and teach it, are important.
  • For Jesus, the Bible wasn’t just meant to be read and believed, but it was meant to be lived.
  • 1/5 of the sermon on the mount is centered around doing what the Bible actually says… “Make sure you go do it!”
  • As we continue through the sermon on the mount, we are going to be continually challenged to act, keep, and put His word into practice.
  • It is seen throughout the sermon right to the end in chapter 7 where Jesus compares those who hear His words and acts upon them.
  • Jesus gives us information and we look at the word and study it and give it priority in our lives. But we also go beyond information and allow for transformation.

Illus. World’s largest cabbage.

Matthew 5:17-20 

 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 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. 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. “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

 

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