This is our 3rd lesson in the series of The Sermon on the Mount. You can skip right to the main part of this lesson or continue reading if you have not read lessons about The Beatitudes and The Similitudes. I will briefly cover them in the next two sections.
Briefly about the Beatitudes
At first, Jesus delineated the difference between “blessings” of this world and BLESSINGS from God.
First seven of The Eight Beatitudes give the qualities and attributes of Jesus Christ (and what it means to be a Christ follower). A true believer “denies himself” – dies to the sins and the pleasures of this world.
The 8th Beatitude summarizes all previous ones and PROPHECIES what the world will do to Jesus as the Son of God (and what the world will do to His followers because of Christ and His ministry – (note Matthew 10:22; Mark 13:13; John 15:18).
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Matthew 5:12 KJV
Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead – Rejoice! Jesus shed His blood and broke His body – paid for OUR sins, one for all, Rejoice and Praise His name!
Briefly about the Similitudes
After Christ’s lesson on The Beatitudes, Jesus explained the NEEDS of this world and the PURPOSE of His followers .
- “Ye are the salt of the earth” Matthew 5:13 – the world is “tasteless, unsavory and flavorless” without God’s Word.
- “Ye are the light of the world” Matthew 5:14 – the world must see in Christ’s followers the Light of God – believers must PROCLAIM the Word of God and DIRECT to the only SALVATION which is through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6 KJV
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has taught and instructed His disciples, so they (and we as a Christ followers) can further His ministry to the world.
The Similitudes tell us, Christians are to PREACH the Gospel and to REFLECT the image of God.
Jesus Christ fulfills the Law
In today’s study scripture from Matthew 5:17-19 Jesus predispose and make susceptible the hearts and minds of the crowd.
Jesus was popular among both Gentiles and Jews groups. The former saw in Him wisdom, hope and only Salvation. The latter, a threat to the Mosaic Law. Of course with some exceptions.
In the Old Testament, the law can be understood to have three dimensions: ceremonial, civil and moral.
- The ceremonial law related specifically to Israelites (Note Leviticus 1:2-3). The purpose of it is to direct them to Jesus Christ. Therefore, after Jesus’ death and resurrection this law is no longer necessary. Nevertheless, the principles behind them – to worship and love God – still apply.
- The civil law applied to daily living in Israel (Note Deuteronomy 24:10-11). Jesus demonstrated this by His example. (In fact, the civil law from the Old Testament laid as the foundation for Constitution of many countries around the world)
- The moral law (such as Ten Commandments) is the direct command from God and requires strict obedience (Note Exodus 20:1-17). The moral law reveals the nature and character of God. By the way, Jesus obeyed the moral law completely.
Not to destroy the Law but to fulfill
17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 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. Matthew 5:17-18 KJV
The Question 1. If Jesus did not come to abolish the Law, does it mean that all the Old Testament laws still apply to Christians today?
The short Answer 1. YES, OF COURSE! It is still operable.
The Question 2. If the Law is still operable, does it mean that we ought to practice it?
The short Answer 2. YES, we as Christ’s followers have to PRACTICE God’s Law, BUT… you will NEVER get Salvation by keeping the Law (further in His Sermon Jesus will set His standards of righteousness – we will look at them in the next lessons – note Matthew 5:21-48).
Now, here is the long answer for Questions 1 and 2 and for that we have to uncover the character of God: unchangeable, just, merciful and gracious.
God is unchangeable
Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the Lord, the first, and with the last; I am he. Isaiah 41:4 KJV
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Revelation 22:13 KJV
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Hebrews 13:8 KJV
From the beginning God was FAITHFUL concerning His commandments for us (Note Genesis 2:16-17).
The very FIRST COMMANDMENT God gave to man was mere “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; …”, in other words – “don’t be tempted by the cunning serpent” . And then, very important, God told to Adam what is going to happen if he will brake the commandment – JUSTICE!
God is Just
Further God continues instructing Adam: “… for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” In the very day that man would succumb to the temptation to “know evil”, through DISOBEYING God’s Word, he would die spiritually, which means separation from God’s direct fellowship – in other words this is God’s JUSTICE (Note Isaiah 61:8).
God is Merciful
Because God was MERCIFUL they (Adam and Eve) did not die physically until later, they just initiated decaying processes in their bodies which would ultimately cause their physical death (Note Genesis 5:5).
God is Gracious
Not only is God MERCIFUL, He also is GRACIOUS. The clothing provided by God required shedding the blood (Note Genesis 3:21). This first creature actually to suffer death after Adam’s sin, illustrating the basic biblical principle of substitutionary atonement (or “covering”), requiring the shedding of innocent blood as a condition of forgiveness for the sinners.
In summary for the “Not to destroy, but to fulfill”, we come to the point of FULFILLMENT OF THE LAW.
Jesus Christ is the promised atonement, the perfect sacrifice, the Lamb, the innocent blood, the Messiah! His coming was prophesied throughout the entire human history. He was worshiped by generations. His name was praised millennia before His birth.
The first prophecy was spoken by God:
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Genesis 3:15 KJV
Jesus Christ FULFILLED the judicial law by personifying God’s perfect JUSTICE (Note Matthew 12:18,20). He was born of virgin by divine incarnation. He lived perfect and righteous life. He was innocent – Jews accused Christ falsely, even Pontius Pilate said, that he sees no guilt in Him (Note Luke 23:13-15). Jesus shed His blood for all sinners.
But now you may say: “Jesus has fulfilled the Law by shedding His innocent blood to wash away our sins, therefor justice has been satisfied and we are no longer under the Law”. And my answer to you is: “Go in your room, kneel, lift up your face to God and ask Him – “God, which one of Your commandments, can I break today? Anyway Your blood washes away them all.“”
Of course you don’t have to do that, but at least ask yourself, did Jesus sacrificed himself, so you can live in sin? If you have a repented heart, your answer should be NO!
God warns once again
19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:19 KJV
Same as with the very first commandment given from God to Adam, Jesus reminds us about God’s seriousness concerning the Law. As the Law was valid on the sixth day of creation, it has the same validity today (Note Romans 3:31; 1 Timothy 1:8).
The Christians, who confess Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior, are held accountable (especially when they teach others), for believing and obeying all God’s commands. Matthew 5:18 KJV “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.”
The “jot” and “little” – the smallest letter and a mark which distinguished two letters in the Hebrew words of the Old Testament. Thus not only the words, but even the letters are divinely inspired, in the original autographs of the Scriptures (Note 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The Law was given by FAITHFUL and UNCHANGEABLE God.
God is JUST, MERCIFUL and GRACIOUS = Jesus Christ is the FULFILLMENT of the Law.
There are no insignificant or non-inspired statements in the Bible.
Keeping God’s commandments is the result of repented heart.