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Summary: The biblical teaching of the absolute moral standards of God’s word has fallen on hard times. We continually in our day hear the idea espoused that because times have changed the Bible does not fit our day. The truth, of course is just the opposite.

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“The Authority of the Word of God.”

Matthew 5:17-20

The biblical teaching of the absolute moral standards of God’s word has fallen on hard times. We continually in our day hear the idea espoused that because times have changed the Bible does not fit our day. The truth, of course is just the opposite. We need a clear restatement of the authority of God’s word today, just as it was when Jesus spoke the words recorded in the “Sermon on the Mount.”

In our study of the Sermon on the Mount we need to note how Jesus makes the points increasingly more personal as He goes along. In the Beatitudes (vv. 1-12) Jesus used the third person “Blessed are the….” but in the last Beatitude concerning persecution and in speaking of being salt and light He uses the second person “Blessed are you…. you are the salt… you are the light.” And now in the applications that follow He switches to the first person saying, “But I tell you.”

Notice what Jesus says beginning in verse seventeen, “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. (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 right-eousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus draws our attention to two important relationships; His own relationship to the Law and the relationship of His followers to the Law. And again in examining these two things we are again going to look first at the meaning and then at the application.

First, Christ and the Law. (5:17-18)

“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.”

• Meaning

When Jesus says, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law” we can assume that Jesus says this because that is exactly what some of the people are thinking and saying. From the very beginning of His ministry people have been struck by the authority with which Jesus taught. And the things that Jesus is teaching are so radical that it literally turned estab-lished religious tradition upside down. It is only natural that some would wonder about the correlation between His authority and the authority of the Law of Moses. Some are even suggesting that what Jesus is teaching is doing away with the law handed down by God to Moses. Instead Jesus says that He stands in line with the law and the prophets.

But there are two crucial questions that we need to answer in order to understand what Jesus means here.

 What did Jesus mean when He used the word “law?”

When Jesus used the term “law” it could mean the Ten Commandments. But they also used it to describe the Pentateuch –which is the first five books of the Old Testament. The term “the Law and the Prophets” is also used to describe what we today call the Old Testament. But it can also mean the Oral or Scribal Law. Now this is where you will have really pay attention.

The scribal or oral law was a vast collection of rules and regulations that defined how one was to apply the Law to their daily lives. By the third century a summary of these oral laws was written which is called the Mishnah. And to that eventually was added a series of commentaries on the Mishnah called the Talmads. Are you confused yet? Well, so was the common Jew living in Jesus’ day. The Ten Commandments that God gave Moses was extended to a ridiculous series of petty rules. They had amended the Ten Commandment into a list of 248 commandments and 365 prohibitions – 613 laws who could remember them all much less keep them!

 What does it meant that Jesus “fulfills” the Law? (3)

The verb (plerosai) translated to “fulfill” means literally “to fill.” So what does it mean that Jesus will fulfill the Law?

Jesus fulfilled the law by living out the Law perfectly.

It is a fact that Jesus could only become the substitute for mankind’s sin by keeping the Law perfectly; that is living completely without sin. The writer of Hebrews say, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15. So He fulfilled the law by keeping it completely.

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