Welcome back it is hard to believe that we are into the second half of 2015, wow, and I sincerely thank you for visiting our article and series “The Sermon on the Mount.” This month we are going to explore Matthew 5:17-20 where we find Jesus discussing the fulfillment of the Law and the prophets. If you haven’t been may I suggest you open your Bible and follow along! Yes it is that important. Those who have been following along realize Jesus has been discussing righteousness revealed through the character of a Christian, also known as a disciple or follower. In case you haven’t noticed the beatitudes were given in the third person, the salt and light were given in the second person and now we are going to see Jesus in the authoritative first person.
The importance of this paragraph not only includes the continuing definition of Christian righteousness but it breeches the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament, in other words between the law and the gospel. Please notice this passage divides itself into two sections; in verses 17 & 18 we find Christ and the Law and in verses 19 & 20 we see the Christian and the Law.
Jesus begins by affirming that He had no intention of abolishing the law or the prophets, in other words Jesus had no intentions of contradicting any of the Old Testament. The mention of this makes me suspicious that some of the religious elite were accusing Him of that very thing. It is obvious there was a conflict of authority here. Remember the Scribes and Pharisees were submissive to the Law of Moses, they were teachers of that Law. They had no authority in anything else. Though Jesus spoke on His own authority. For example in verse 18 “verily I say unto you” He speaks in His own name and under His own authority. The Bible student will recognize some of Jesus’ most impressive statements were begun with “verily I say unto you.” To some Jesus appeared to be setting himself up as an authority over or against the sacred law, the word of God. When we examine the word fulfil and look at the Greek root of that word, pleĢroĢĢsoĢ which means by implication, to fill out, complete, make perfect, and accomplish an end. So Jesus had come to accomplish what the law and prophets had prophesied.
Jesus continues to explain the permanence of the law. No part of it will go unfulfilled. The “jot” is the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet and the “tittle” is a small mark that distinguishes the sounds of letters in the Hebrew. The point is both of these have very detailed uses and Jesus uses them to illustrate the level of detail He is bringing to accomplish the fulfillment or accomplishment of the law.
Next we find the word “therefore” which reveals the vital connection between the law of God and the kingdom of God. A further look will show us conformity to the commandments. The Christian heart should lead us to follow the commandments of God. The word obedience does fit, but realize this obedience comes from a heart of joy that has us wanting to be obedient. Not a heart that is burdened down as a slave forced to obey.
Adding to personal obedience is the call to teach the law of God. Christians should take seriously the opportunities we have to teach Gods word. We will be held accountable for the importance we place on it. If we are not obedient and teach others to do so there will be bad consequences as a result. Exactly what is meant by least I don’t know and honestly I really don’t want to find out, and I don’t believe you will either. To avoid this issue it is best to live Gods word and teach Gods word correctly in order to experience greatness in the kingdom of heaven.
In closing we hear the Lord reaffirming His call to righteousness with a contrasting example to the Pharisees’. True righteousness is required to enter the kingdom of heaven. I believe we all know the Pharisees’ only had self-righteousness and they went out of their way to glorify each other in the eyes of man. Let’s not worry about glorifying man or being glorified by man. Let’s just love our Lord and through the love He has shown us lets share it with our neighbor. That my friend is the greatest witness we can have. I am not suggesting the acceptance of ungodliness in any form. Rather, let’s love Gods word and our fellow man enough to share the truth that will open the door that leads others to Jesus. Until next month may God bless you is my prayer.