We’ve spent these last few weeks looking at the greatest instance of “the law” in the Old Testament. In light of that, I thought it would be useful for us to look at some of Jesus’ teaching on the Law. In the next few days, we will look at the worlds of the text of Matthew 5: 17-20. Today we’ll look at the world om front of the text:
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
The Pharisees get a bum wrap. I always have felt that way. Now, I’m not defending their actions or saying that they got everything right. But I understand where they are coming from. The people got it wrong in the Old Testament, they were told to keep the Law, they didn’t and because of that, they were punished and they went into exile. During this period the Pharisees arose, and their (self-appointed) job was this – teach the people not only what the Law was. Not just that the people were to keep the Sabbath day, but this is what it looked like. They build these additional rules, out of a desire to keep the Law. But here’s the deal, they focused more on their human laws than God’s divine Law. They missed the point.
Their original motivation was in keeping the Law. But they focused more on their actions than their heart.
That is our caution today. That is why Jesus says our righteousness must surpass theirs. Because for us it isn’t just about what we do. Hear me though, do right! Keep the law. Follow what God wants. Jesus tells us those who love Him keep His commands. We are not just to hearers of the word, but doers of the word.
But for Jesus, it starts with our hearts. If we “do” right, but “aren’t” right, we aren’t “doing” right.
So today, focus on Him, above all else. I’ve said before my goal as a preacher is not to make you a good person. I want you to love Jesus. If you love Him, He’ll take care of the rest. Today, our righteousness must surpass that of the Pharisees. The way that happens is for Jesus to be our righteousness. For our life and faith to start with Him. And then everything else falls into place.
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