Summary: A consideration of the nature of the Old Testament law, and how Jesus fulfills it for us.
TITLE - Jesus: The Fulfillment of the Old Testament Law for Us
SERIES - Matthew’s Portrait of Jesus As The Fulfillment of God’s Promises
(Sermon # 5)
TEXT - Matthew 5:17–19
DATE PREACHED - February 22, 2009
COPYRIGHT © JOE LA RUE, 2009 (ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)
A. I want you to imagine that the president and Congress decided to encourage Americans to become physically fit. They made a law requiring every American to run fifteen miles, and then swim five miles, every day. Oh, and one more thing: If you fail, you’ll be shot. Congress and the president are not playing around on this one. Get into shape, or get shot. Run fifteen miles, then swim five miles, every day, or pay the price. That’s the new law.
Now, some of us would be shot pretty quickly. Take me, for instance. I have bad knees that prevent me from running. So, they would just take me out and shoot me right off the bat. And some of you might be in the same boat. We would not last too long under this type of law.
Others here this morning might fare a little better. Perhaps you are semi-physically fit, and you might be able to run a mile or two. But fifteen? That would be a challenge for most people. Unless you were already doing serious training preparing for a marathon, you would probably find that you tired out, cramped up, and collapsed long before you hit the fifteen mile mark. You would last longer me, but not by much. You would shot, too.
But, we may have a few athletes here this morning. You would better than most of us. Let’s say that we actually have someone who was able to run the fifteen miles, and then swim the five miles. And then, at the end of the day they come back home, exhausted and dead-dog tired, only to find the police waiting at their house. One of the policemen says, “Good job. You made it today. Get a good night’s rest, because you have to do the same thing tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, and the one after that. You have to run fifteen miles, and swim five miles, each day—every day!—or suffer the consequences.”
How long do you think anybody will last under that type of law? I suggest the answer is: Not very long.
B. Thankfully, the situation I just described is not real. However, there is an analogous situation that is real, and that’s what we’re going to talk about this morning.
I. OBEY THE LAW, AND YOU WILL LIVE. DISOBEY IT, AND YOU WILL DIE.
A. When God created our world and gave life to humanity, he imposed certain laws. He said, “Keep my laws perfectly, and live. But if you disobey them, you will die.” That’s what he told Adam and Eve when he created them. And back then, there was only one law. In Genesis chapter two, we read how God put Adam and Eve in the midst of an amazing garden, and he said to them, “16You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Gen 2:15-16, NIV).
1. There it was. One law. That was it. They could eat anything they wanted except the fruit from that one tree, and they would live forever. But, if they ate from the tree God told them not to, they would die.
2. You know what happened. They ate the forbidden fruit, and death, disease, depravity, and decay entered our world.
3. Years later, when God brought the people of Israel out of Egypt as we discussed last week, God gave them his law and told them to obey it. Now, though, it was a little more involved than the simple, ‘Don’t eat the fruit of one tree,’ that had been the law for Adam and Eve. Instead, it had ten foundational commandments, which we call “The Ten Commandments.”
a. Some of these commands dealt with how we interact with other people. Don’t murder, and don’t steal, and don’t lie, and don’t covet what doesn’t belong to you. Honor your parents, and also honor your marriage and your spouse. (Exo 20:12-17).
b. Other commands were directed to how we interact with God. There was don’t allow anything to be more important to you than God, and don’t worship other things instead of God, and don’t treat God as trivial or commonplace, and remember to set aside a day each week for worship and rest. (Exo 20:1-11).
c. Those were the Ten Commandments. And God gave some other laws to define what these Commandments mean, and help us get along with one another. For instance, he told us to love other people as much as we love ourselves (Lev 19:18), and to extend help and care even to our enemies (Exo 23:4-5). We are not to slander people (Lev 19:16), nor are we to take vengeance or carry a grudge (Lev 19:18). And we are not to show partiality, but instead we are to treat all people fairly (Exo 23:6–9; Lev 19:15, 33) and deal in truth with everyone (Lev 19:11; 35–36). We are to be respectful to the elderly (Lev 19:32) and generous to the poor among us (Lev 19:9-10). And we are to reverence God (Lev 19:30–31).