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Matthew 5:17-20                                                                                                             for September 13, 2014
Fulfilling the Law
The New King James Version
17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 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.
The Message Bible
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.
The statement: “do not think that I came to destroy ...” would imply that some were arguing that Jesus did come to destroy the law and the prophets.  What would be the context of such a supposition?
The following are typical of accusations about Jesus.
  • Matt. 9:10-11    10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
  • Matt. 11:19    19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.”
  • Matt. 15:3    He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?
  • Mark 2:15-16    15 Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. 16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”
  • Luke 5:30     30 And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, “Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
  • Luke 7:34     34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’
  • Luke 15:2     And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.”
  • John 9:16     16 Therefore some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them.
Because there are some folks who today would argue that in fulfilling the law and prophets, Jesus has thus now done away with the law and the prophets, What are some other Bible evidences that Jesus’ first coming had nothing to do with such a purpose?
  • Isa. 61:1-3     “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
    Because the Lord has anointed Me
    To preach good tidings to the poor;
    He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
    To proclaim liberty to the captives,
    And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
    To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
    And the day of vengeance of our God;
    To comfort all who mourn,
    To console those who mourn in Zion,
    To give them beauty for ashes,
    The oil of joy for mourning,
    The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
    That they may be called trees of righteousness,
    The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
  • Rom. 3:31     31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.
What does the Bible, old and new testaments, say about God and how He changes His purposes and/or strategies?
  • Mal. 3:6    “For I am the Lord, I do not change;
    Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.
  • Heb. 13:8     Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
--personal application--
19 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. 20 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. 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.
What are these “least” commandments that Jesus warns not to break or not to teach others to break?
What does it mean to teach God’s commandments?
The scribes and Pharisees were noted for their exacting performance of religious laws and rules. Is Jesus suggesting that their careful performance was wrong and unimportant, or was there a very different issue to which Jesus’ warning was directed?
  • Matt. 23:23     23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.
  • John 3:3     Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
What is the purpose of God’s commandments?
  • Prov. 6:23     For the commandment is a lamp,
    And the law a light;
    Reproofs of instruction are the way of life,
  • Ps. 119:105     Your word is a lamp to my feet
    And a light to my path.
If the Pharisees’ “righteousness” was a perfect example of what NOT to do, how did Jesus propose that we should have righteousness that would exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees?
  • John 12:32     32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
  • John 15:5-10     “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
  • Phil. 2:5     Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
  • Pacific Union Recorder, Feb. 16, 1905, paragraph 4—by Ellen G. White.      If we will consent, God can and will so identify us with Himself, so mold our thoughts and aims, that when obeying His will, we are only carrying out the impulse of our own minds. Then we shall not desire to carry out unchristian desires; we shall be filled with an earnest determination to do the will of God. We shall not try to work in our own strength, and we shall guard strictly against self-exaltation.
So was Jesus saying that trying to keep God’s law was unimportant?
  • If the emphasis in this question focuses on the TRYING part, then Jesus WAS warning against the trying.
  • If the emphasis in this question focuses on the KEEPING of God’s law, then the answer has to do with how you are keeping the law.
  • If you are “keeping” the law in your own strength, you WILL completely FAIL just like the Pharisees failed of righteousness. You will be focusing on yourself and your achievements and completely fail to exhibit Love and to be Just, Merciful, and filled with God’s Faith—Matt 23:23.
  • If you are “keeping” the law by keeping your focus on Jesus—John 3:3, by allowing Him to identify you with Himself and by molding your thoughts and aims with Him—PUR 2/16/1905, then keeping God’s law will be a natural outgrowth of your relationship with Jesus. With this as the focus, the WORK is not on the “keeping” of God’s law. There will be struggles, however, in keeping focused on Jesus, in continuing to ALLOW Jesus to identify you with Himself. Our sinful nature is at war with God, and it is not natural for the sin-filled heart (or person—all of us qualify as sinful) to keep choosing to look away from self and to look to Jesus.
Question to keep asking yourself:
So what can I do to keep “looking” to Jesus, to keep “allowing” Him to work in my life?
Updated: Sep 12, 2014