Scriptures: Matthew 5:17, Matthew 5:18, Hebrews 4:15, John 1:29, Luke 21:22, Dan. 9:25, Isa. 7:14, Mic. 5:2, Hos. 11:1, Isa. 11:1, Mal. 4:6, Gen. 49:10, 2 Sam. 7:12, Psa. 78:1.2, Isa. 35:5, Zech. 9:9, Zech. 11:12-13, Lev.16:27, Psa. 22:18, Zech. 13:7, Psa. 22:16, Zech. 12:10, Ex. 12:46, Isa. 53:9, Psa. 16:9-11, Matthew 5:19, Matthew 5:20, Matthew 5:21-22, Matthew 5:27-28, Matthew 5:31-32, Matthew 5:33-34, Matthew 5:38-39, Matthew 5:43-44
Jesus had been going through the region teaching the gospel of the kingdom of heaven (Mat 4:23-25). Some either misunderstood his teachings, or were attempting to use his teachings against him. They were saying that Jesus was doing away with the Law of Moses and the teachings of the Prophets. That would make Jesus a heretic and a false teacher. Jesus addressed that issue in the verses we study today. Let's see what Jesus said about the Law of Moses and the Old Testament prophets.
Matthew 5:17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
The law of Moses concerned itself with sin and animal sacrifice. For a person to fulfill the law would mean that he or she will live a life without sin. For a person to fulfill the animal sacrifice part, he or she must not only be sinless, but die as a sacrifice. To fulfill the prophets would be to fulfill every prophecy ever given in the Old Testament - every prophecy. That's amazing because I watched television last night and they were showing the tremendous amount of prophecies in the Old Testament yet to be fulfilled. Jesus must have been confused, or did he do what he said he came to do? He must have done it if he fulfilled the Prophets.
The Greek word translated "abolish" is kataluo (Strong's #2647), pronounced kat-al-oo'-o and means "to dissolve, destroy, demolish, overthrow, render vain, bring to naught." Perhaps an example of 'abolish' would be the World Trade Center towers. The towers were there, but were demolished and destroyed. Jesus said that wasNOT what he had come to do. He was not overthrowing or rendering vain the Law of Moses or the teachings of the Prophets.
The Greek word translated "fulfill" is pleroo (Strong's #4137), pronounced play-ro'-o and means "to make full, to fill to the full, to fill to the brim, to cause to abound, to complete." Perhaps a glass of water filled to overflowing would be a visual aid. There comes a place when the glass is filled to the full. It cannot hold or do any more. The glass and water are not destroyed or abolished. However, the glass has completely consummated its purpose. It can't do anymore. It's time for another glass - a new wineskin. That WAS what Jesus came to do.
The Bible is consumed with one thought. That thought is God's pursuit of mankind. Everything about the Bible will find its way back to that one thought. God desperately wants men and women to love him and we are blessed when we do. The law and the prophets had done all they could toward that goal of God. The commandments, the feasts, the dietary restrictions, the animal sacrifices had done all they could do. The prophets had said all they could say. Jesus came to fill the glass, not to destroy the glass.
Matthew 5:18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
Jesus said, "I tell you the truth . . ." He was dogmatic about the fact that the law of Moses and the prophecies of the Prophets were important? As long as heaven and earth exist, the law that Moses gave and the things the prophets said were essential. The tiniest point is extremely important and ultimately meaningful.
Have you ever heard a teaching that said something to the order that we no longer need the Old Testament? There is a teaching that takes it further than that. It says that we no longer need Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John or even Acts. It says that all we need today are the writings of Paul and the Revelation. We need the Revelation so we can know how God will destroy all those sinners. I remember not long after I had come to the Lord a man in the church I was attending came to me and told me that we no longer needed the Old Testament. I asked, "Then why is it in the Bible?" If anyone tells you that we no longer need the Old Testament, or any part of the Word of God, tell them that Jesus disagrees. The law of Moses and the prophetic statements of the prophets explained Christ's mission to the most minuscule detail. His mission and identity was detailed to the jot and tittle so the Jews could not miss him. That's important. How did Jesus fulfill the law and the prophets?
FULFILLING THE LAW
1. Jesus fulfilled the demand of sinlessness. To fulfill the law meant that he must perfectly keep the law. That meant he could not sin. The scriptures tell us that he never sinned.
Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
No one had ever done that. The Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes (teachers) who passionately hated Jesus could not show one sin that he committed. They tried. Even the atheists and critics of Christ cannot show one sin after thousands of years of examination.
2. Jesus fulfilled the demand for animal sacrifices. We do not understand the necessity of animal sacrifice and blood in our culture. Understand or not, we know that the Old Covenant demanded it. That demand must be fulfilled for the Old Covenant to be fulfilled. Jesus satisfied that demand.
John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
Jesus did what no person could never do (Rev 5:2-7). Sometimes we hear doctrines that teach the rebuilding of a temple and reinstating of animal sacrifices. Why? Would that not be blasphemy toward the blood of Jesus?
Jesus fulfilled the demand of the Law for sinlessness and animal sacrifices.
FULFILLING THE PROPHETS
1. Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the prophets.
Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies and there were hundreds. There is a verse I want to make certain we see. Jesus spoke of a fulfillment of all things that had been written in Luke 21:22.
Luke 21:22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
The context is about the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. My point is that I do not allow people to tell me things are yet to be fulfilled when Jesus said all things were fulfilled.
There is a great web site that lists 324 fulfilled prophecies concerning Christ and his ministry. If anyone would want to see them, the web address is http://www.jesus-is-lord.com/messiah.htm. We will list a few and give the fulfillment scripture.
Dan. 9:25 . . . Announced the exact time of his coming (483 years after the decree to rebuild) . . . Joh 3:15
Isa. 7:14 . . . Born of a virgin . . . Lu. 1:35
Mic. 5:2a . . . Born in Bethlehem . . . Mt. 2:1-2
Hos. 11:1 . . . Called from Egypt . . . Mt. 2:15
Isa. 11:1 . . . Called a Nazarene . . . Mt. 2:23
Mal. 4:6 . . . Have a Forerunner who would turn many to righteousness . . . Lu. 1:16-17
Gen. 49:10 . . . The Seed of Judah . . . Lu. 3:33
2 Sam. 7:12 . . . David's Seed . . . Mt. 1:1
Psa. 78:1.2 . . . He would teach in parables . . . Mt. 13:34-35
Isa. 35:5 . . . have a ministry of miracles . . . Mt. 11:4-6
Zech. 9:9a . . . Greeted with rejoicing in Jerusalem . . . Mt. 21:8-10
Zech. 9:9f . . . Presented to Jerusalem riding on a donkey . . . Mt. 21:6-9
Zech. 11:12-13a . . . Betrayed for thirty pieces of silver . . . Mt. 26:14-15
Lev.16:27 . . . Suffering outside the Camp . . . Mt. 27:33; Heb. 13:11, 12
Psa. 22:18.....They parted His garments . . . Jn. 19:23,24
Zech. 13:7b . . . A violent death . . . Mt. 27:35
Psa. 22:16...They pierced His hands and His feet . . . Jn. 19:34,37;20:27
Zech. 12:10a . . . The Messiah's body would be pierced . . . Jn. 19:34-37
Ex. 12:46 . . . Not a bone to be broken . . . Jn. 19:31-36
Isa. 53:9a . . . Buried in a rich man's grave . . . Mt. 27:57
Psa. 16:9-11 . . . Was to arise from the dead . . . Jn. 20:9
In a dynamic way Jesus fulfilled every jot and tittle written in the law and spoken by the prophets. There was no way the Jews could have missed him. Both the law and prophets proved to all that Jesus was and is the Christ. Both will continue to prove that fact as long as the universe existed.
Perhaps you have had some doubts. If so, then do a little studying. You will find that Jesus is exactly who he says he is and the Law and Prophets prove it.
Matthew 5:19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus does not teach or encourage the breaking of the ten commandments as his critics had said he taught. However, neither did he say that breaking one would necessarily send a person to hell or even keep that person out of his kingdom. I know that may sound like heresy, but I have two thoughts on this. First, we have all broken at least one of the ten commandments. Even the apostle Paul said he broke a commandment when he coveted (Rom 7:7). There is forgiveness in the kingdom. We can sin and be forgiven in the kingdom. The second thought is that Jesus does not major on laws and commandments. He majors on righteousness - the heart. I know this is true because of what he next said.
Matthew 5:20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus majored on righteousness, not external laws and commandments. Breaking or even teaching others to break laws and commandments will not keep one out of the kingdom. Being unrighteous will.
This was a shocking statement on the mountain side the day that Jesus spoke this. The Pharisees and teachers were viewed as the righteousness standard. They were the world champs, the best. Yet, Jesus said the righteousness that he demands is beyond what appears to be the best.
What does the righteousness of the Pharisees and teachers of the law mean? What righteousness must I surpass to enter the kingdom of heaven? The Pharisees and teachers taught and lived an external righteousness of which Jesus constantly condemned. Here are some of the things they did as righteousness.
Outward religious dress - inside filthy and wicked heart (Mat 23:5, 25-28).
Loved religious titles (Mat 23:7).
Loved to be publically honored (Mat 23:6).
Wash hands in a way to be seen as spiritual (Mk 7:4).
Took advantage of widows (Mk 12:40).
Prayed long prayers in public to be seen as spiritual (Mk 12:40).
Make great display of paying tithes, but inept at justice, mercy, and faithfulness (Mat 23:23).
Strain at a gnat and swallow a camel - majored on minors (hand washing) and made serious issues (slander) tiny problems (Mat 23:24).
Condemning liars and slanderers who discredit and destroyed true ministries of God (Mat 23:29-32).
Travel land and sea to make a proselyte - then make twice the son of hell they were (Mat 23:15).
Jesus said, "Everything they do was done for people to see (Mat 23:5). They invented hundreds of new laws to keep them from getting close to breaking the law of Moses. For example, Moses had instructed the priests to wash their hands before entering the tabernacle and to wash after they had ministered to the sick, etc. (Exo 30:19-21; Lev 15:11; Deu 21:6). From that the Pharisees and scribes added a ceremonial law saying the hands must be washed seven times in seven different containers of water with an exact amount of water. There were similar regulations about the distance one could walk on the Sabbath, etc. All together there were 613 such rules designed to regulate every aspect of life.(1) By the way, Jesus kept none of those which gives us some insight to what he meant in this statement we now look.
Jesus is not satisfied with external compliance. That's hypocrisy to Jesus. He wants to know what is going on in the heart. Skin-deep Christianity is not acceptable and the person that is only skin deep will not enter the kingdom of heaven. We know this is exactly what he meant because of what he said next. We will begin looking at it more in our next studies, but I will close by briefly showing us how Jesus explained this righteousness he demands in his next six statements.
1. Matthew 5:21-22 Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill . . . But I say unto you . . . (Kingdom Relationships)
2. Matthew 5:27-28 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you . . . (Kingdom Morality)
3. Matthew 5:31-32 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you . . . (Kingdom Marriages)
4. Matthew 5:33-34 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you . . . (Kingdom Truthfulness)
5. Matthew 5:38-39 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you . . . (Kingdom Forgiveness)
6. Matthew 5:43-44 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you . . . (Kingdom Love)
Jesus explained that living in his kingdom exceeds skin deep, external, Pharisee Christianity. It is heart deep Christianity. It is Christianity from the core - heart. What is at the very core of our hearts? That is what allows us in or keeps us out of the kingdom of heaven.
There were those sitting on the mountain side that day when Jesus said this who became very uncomfortable. If you are a "skin deep" person, then you are very uncomfortable right now because you know this is true and too clear. You want me to stop talking so you can get out of here. Jesus is trying to save your souls just as he did then. If you are a core deep Christian, then you know the difference of playing the game and walking in the kingdom. The kingdom of God is not external. It is within. It's not praying a sinner's prayer or even keeping commandments. It's the attitudes of our hearts.
1. Wycliffe Commentary, Mark 7:3