Wednesday, November 24, 2021
Completing God’s Law
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.
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.
-Matthew 5:17-20 The Message
Verse 17: “Do not presume that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.
Verse 17 study: God’s immoral and ceremonial laws were given to help those who love God with their hearts and minds. But in Israel’s history, the law was misquoted and misapplied. The religious leaders turned those laws into a confusing mass of rules. Jesus was talking about the original purpose in God’s laws by bringing people back to the purpose. Jesus did not speak against the law, but he did speak against the abuses of excuses it had been subjected to (John 1:17).
Verse 18: For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished!
Verse 19: Therefore, whoever nullifies 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 shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Verse 19 study: People in the crowd had a habit of telling people what to do, but they missed the point of God’s laws themselves. Jesus said it is easier to obey God’s law than to explain it. It’s easier to study God’s law and tell others to follow them than put them into practice. So how are you obeying God?
Verse 20: “For I say to you that unless your righteousness far surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Verse 20 study: The Pharisees were exacting and scrupulous in their attempts to follow their laws. How can Jesus call us to greater righteousness than theirs? The weakness of the Pharisees was their content to obey the laws outwardly without allowing God to change their heart or attitudes. Jesus said that the quality of our goodness should be greater than the Pharisees. They looked pious, but they were far from the kingdom of God. God judges our hearts and our deeds. It is in the heart that our real allegiance lies. Be concerned with your attitudes that people don’t see your actions that are seen by all.
Jesus mentioned that his listeners are a different kind of righteousness altogether (love and obedience), not the intense version of the Pharisees’ righteousness (legal compliance). Our righteousness must:
- Come from what God does in us, not what we can do ourselves.
- Be God-centered, not self-centered.
- Based on reverence for God, not approval from people.
- Go beyond the law to live by the principles behind the law.
Verses 17-20 studies: If Jesus didn’t abolish the law, do the Old Testament laws still apply today? There are three categories of the law in the Old Testament:
- The Ceremonial Law is related primarily to Israel’s worship (Leviticus 1:2-3). The main focus was to point to Jesus Christ’s laws. Therefore, they were no longer necessary after Jesus’ death and resurrection. We are not bound by ceremonial laws or principles; we still worship and love the holy God. Jesus was accused of violating ceremonial law by the Pharisees.
- The Civil Law applied to daily living in Israel (Deuteronomy 24:10-11). Modern society and culture are different from those times and settings. Not all of them can be pinpointed follow. But, the principle behind the commands are timeless and should guide your and our conduct. Jesus did present those principles by example.
- The Moral Law (the Ten Commandments) is a direct command of God, and it requires strong discipline (Exodus 20:13). Moral law reveals nature and the will of God, and it still applies today. Jesus obeys the moral law completely.
Father, the laws that people tend to mess up because they fail to read and study the context of your word is something we can improve upon in the world. I pray we can improve context learning when reading your word. Let us have the patience and wisdom to help those study the word by context and not just by words. In Jesus’ name. Amen!