Summary: The first message in a 7-Part Series, Shift - A New Way of Thinking. Today's message from Matthew 5:17-20 explores Jesus' connection with the Old Testament.

This Changes Everything • Matthew 5:17-20

Introduction: As Jesus identifies in the Beatitudes, a Kingdom person should HUNGER and THIRST for righteousness. He is not simply interested in our AGREEMENT but rather our SURRENDER.

About this passage: Serve as an intro to the five blocks of material that make up remainder of chapter.

I. Jesus recognizes an underlying QUESTION.

Imagine being in the crowd (just heard Beatitudes & Approval by God)… imagine the question – How can I have this righteousness. Because the manner in which Jesus was teaching focuses on the heart not behavior.

Jewish audience – how does what this teacher is saying relate with the O.T.

THE LAW (Torah = instruction Gen,EX,Lev,Num,Deut; also Pentateuch) was their primary authority… dominated all of their religious, social, economic life. 1st Century Jews would not have seen Law as a burden but a way they stayed faithful to God.

Underlying Question: How can we create a Holy Management System that we can follow & live up to this?

II. Jesus reiterates an unyielding COMMITMENT.

Commitment to the OT Scriptures. Jesus reveals His relationship between Himself and the Law. PPL were asking what’s the relationship between Moses and Jesus… NT and OT.


“Fulfill” = plerosai = literally “to fill”

What does the OT contain?

Doctrinal teaching – TORAH = Law (1st 5 bks) = literally revealed instruction. OT instructs us about God, man, salvation, etc. OT only partial revelation. Jesus fulfilled it by bringing to fullness its teaching.

Predictive Prophecy – Looks forward to Messiah… anticipation. Jesus fulfilled it in that what was predicted came to pass.

Moral Law of God – Often misunderstood & more often disobeyed. Jesus fulfilled them 1) by being born under law and 2) to fulfill all righteousness of God and declaring the radical commands of the righteousness of God. 9 of 10 Ten Commandments are repeated in NT as commands for believers. Exception – Sabbath commandment – MORAL Law has not been abolished. 2 Timothy 3:16 “ALL Scripture is breathed by God”


Not one “iota”/”jot” or “dot”/”tittle”. This iota/jot is the smallest letter Hebrew “Yod”. This dot/tittle is the smallest stroke… it’s a tiny extension on some letters of the Hebrew alphabet that distinguishes between pairs of letters.

(EX of Hebrew letters: B & k v f r d)

Jesus is upholding the reliability and the truth of the OT Scriptures. But most importantly Jesus reveals that the OT Scriptures finds their fullest meaning in Him.

EX. Something not making any sense apart from context… something else…

III. Jesus reveals an unattainable CHARACTER.

Exceeds = overflow like a river out of its banks then Jesus adds “more” righteousness…

Wow? Imagine the original hearers… Difficult word for many reasons…

1) Scribes and Pharisees were highly regarded (we have negative image bc of what Jesus said about them but that wasn’t the view). To be a Pharisee was praiseworthy and Scribes were honored as great masters of the Law.

2) Jesus was not saying that in order to go to heaven one had to have just a little better righteousness. Jesus is teaching that the Kingdom of Heaven is reserved for those who somehow have a different and better righteousness.


1) HUMAN RIGHTEOUSNESS IS EXTERNAL RIGHTEOUSNESS (not outside but inside) SEE MATTHEW 23:27. WARNING: To a certain extent you and I can improve our lives morally. Alcoholic… drug addiction… can control ourselves and improve. PPL will admire us for overcoming a weakness in character. We can do all of this outwardly but you and I cannot do anything about our hearts. Cant make your heart loving if its not loving. Can make your heart humble if it is proud. Human righteousness gets us nowhwere with God because God demainds a transformation of the heart.

2) HUMAN RIGHTEOUSENESS IS EXPERT RATIONALIZATION. Pharisees had reduced the standards of the law down. They had defined the law down so far that their Holy Management system could tell you what each meant. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” By their definition they could tell you precisely what you could do on the Sabbath an still keep the law. Jesus is saying that’s not keeping the law but keeping a watered-down version of it. EX. Today keeping Sabbath…. God gives a commandment and we make it say anything we want it to say or do. Trying to establish a Holy Management System to create own goodness… Human righteousness is always self-glorifying instead of God-glorifying.

This character that Jesus refers to is a different kind of character that is unattainable by human efforts. We can pile human goodness upon human goodness upon human goodness… we can refine it… polish it… perfect it… but no matter how hard we try we will fall short of the righteousness of God because human righteousness is qualitatively different from God’s righteousness.

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