(1/27) Introduction, When our Lord Jesus had risen from the dead and was about to ascend into heaven, He gathered His disciples and said this as Matthew records it; "All authority has been given to Me in
heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am
with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. (Matt. 28:18-20)
Notice several things:
All Authority, Power, Dominion etc. belongs to Jesus. He is the Ultimate and Absolute Authority (v.18)
He will always be with His disciples (v. 20)
He has a purpose and an order for your life. As you are going to school, on a business trip, to work each day, to the grocery store, running errands, taking a vacation, be making disciples; that is, be
looking to showing and telling people about Jesus. (v.19)
Those who choose to follow Jesus are to intentionally identify themselves as followers by Baptism (v.19)
We are instructed to teach them the things that Jesus taught and commanded (v.19) For much of this year that will be our focus. We are going to look at the things Jesus taught and commanded His disciples.
To start we are going to return to the Greatest Sermon ever preached, His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.
It is my opinion that this sermon is based on His simple but basic message of, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand." To be ready to meet the King and be part of His kingdom would require that
people repent. The word, 'repent,' as we have told you many times, means to change the mind with a view to changing the actions. You have to think differently than the world, and the way you have been brought up to think if you
are going to be ready to meet the King or to be part of His kingdom. The sermon that He is going to preach is all about being different than the world and the religion that you grew up in. Just out of curiosity, how many of you
have come to see God differently that you were taught when you were younger? How is He different?
He begins this sermon with 8 characteristics of the person that God favors or approves of. The word Blessed is often translated as, "happy," but it does not refer to happiness as an emotion or a feeling,
but as a state of being. This is the person that God favors, or the one God approves of. These are not what you will read about or hear about in the philosophy of the world. The world says life centers on you so be strong,
assertive, These are not 8 different people that God approves of, but 8 characteristics of the one person that God approves of and His approval is revealed by a corresponding promise. The wording also tells us that this is the
only person God approves of and the only one that will receive the promise. "This one and this one only is favored by God, and this one and this one only receives this promise," is how each one literally reads. Let's review.
- Poor in Spirit: Knows He or she is Spiritually bankrupt without God's grace. Nothing of merit to gain God's approval.
- Mourns: Most likely because of the pain and misery in your life or your world thaat has been caused by our sin nature or the that of the world's
- Meek: Have yielded the strength of their lives to God in humility.
- Hungry and Thirsts for Righteousness: Those who want to be right, live right, and see people treated right in society
- Merciful: Those who feel people's pain and burdens and want do something to relieve it
- Pure In Heart - Have as their motive, the good of people and the glory of God, not personal gain. They strive to keep their hearts clean.
- The Peacemakers: Attempt to live in harmony with others, even when it is hard. Peacemakers want to help people find peace with God, and want to see people astranged from God or others to be reconciled.
- The Persecuted - These are people who try to live these character traits out in ther lives but become the object of scorn, slander, and assaults by a world that is threatened by their presence.
But these are the people God approves, those upon whose favor rests, and the only ones who will receive the promises.
These are the only salt and light and a dark, and decaying world. Not the religious leaders who have gotten away from knowing God. His purpose for these humble, repentent, but ordinary people, and now for
us, is to be the salt of the earth, that is, the only means of preserving the dignity of the image of God in man for the earth. Remember 1 Cor. 1:26-31. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the
flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and
the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ
Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption- that, as it is written, "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord."
The world will not see the light of truth about God, themselves, heaven or hell, grace or religion, apart from the people whose minds have changed and now their lives are characterized by these traits.
But if our lives are tainted by the sins and philosophies of the world, we will have no impact, except to leave a bad taste in the mouths of those who don't know God.
If our light is hidden by our unwillingness to live as Jesus said and to tell others about Grace the world will remain in the darkness of Satan's control.
Church, What God had intended for Israel to be is exactly what He intends for us to be, The Salt and Light in a dead, dark, and decaying, world. Then Jesus said this, (vv. 17-20) and this is where our
study picks up from last summer.
I. The Thoughts of Man
A. The Statement (vv. 17-20) "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 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. 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. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."
B. The Problems Then -
1.The Crowds Perception Jesus' teaching caused people to question in their minds whether He was teaching something contrary to the Bible because it was different then what they had heard from the
religious leaders of their day; different from the rabbis' in their cathechism classes, different than their parents taught. It was radical.
2. The Critics' Accusations - Whether it had started yet or not, I am not sure, but I know that through out Jesus' ministry, He was criticised as being disrespectful of the Sabbath, as He often healed the
sick and injured on the Sabbath. He was criticised for hanging out with sinners, for loving to eat and drink at parties, and for not following the traditions of the Rabbis and Pharisees. He ate grain from a field on the Sabbath,
He didn't wash His hands in a purifying ceremony before He ate, and He attended dinner parties in the homes of disreputable people. He was criticised as a lawbreaker and that was teaching contrary to the law of Moses, and
definitely different from what from the Pharisees and scribes taught.
3. The Contrary Actions of the Religious leaders- Jesus may have made these statements in advance of teaching them, that what He was going to say was contrary to what the religious leaders taught and did.
Five times He will say, "You have heard it said...., but I say....!" In Chapters 6 and 7, He will come out and say, Don't be like the religious teachers, they are hypocrites, wolves in sheeps clothing who know God's will but
don't do it. Verse 20 says, that unless you are different than than them, you won't have a shot at the kingdom of Heaven. The Problem is that these guys have been our teachers, our leaders, our examples, and Jesus is telling
them that they don't cut it in God's eyes. Is He teaching us according to God's Word?
Much of the problem with the religious leaders is that over time they made up their own laws to keep God's laws. Like this: What is work on the Sabbath Day. These things don't appear in the Bible but were
made up and became law.
- Could not carry food that weighed as much as a fig on the sabbath
- Could not carry enough wine to fill a goblet on the sabbath
- or enough milk for one swallow "
- or enough ink to write to two Hebrew letters from the alphabet "
- Can not look into polished metal. "
All of these and much more were taught as law and faith or religion was entirely about what was done and what was not done and not faith and love in a personal relationship with God.
C. The Problems Today - Today, this text is important due to the problems and criticisms and attacks on the Bible. Many questions have arisen these last 150 years like: Is the Bible really God's Word, or
just contain God's Word? How can churches or denominations ordain women? or Homosexuals? or be Pro-choice? or perform same sex marriages? How can some preach that you don't have to be born again, that being good is good enough?
How can they teach that there is no hell? Or that demons don't exist, but symbolizes mental illness? and there are many more questions. The Bible, is it:
1. Relative or Absolute - That is, is truth and light what we each of us wants it to be, can something wrong be right for me, or something right be wrong for me? Or is the Bible absolute and unchangeing?
What it says is right is right no matter what, and what it says is wrong, is wrong no matter what?
2. Relevant or Obsolete - That is, does the Bible apply to all peoples of all times, that just because the time and culture is different, doesn't change the meaning of God's Word. It is as relevant to
2013 America as it was in 1200 B.C. Israel, and 70 A.D. Rome. Many, however, believe that the Bible is archaic and cultural. That what Moses and Paul understood as deviant behavior like homosexuality in their culture, we now
know is okay and not wrong. Those teachings are obsolete.
3. Temporary or Permanent - Was the Bible for a time or for all time?
4. Literal or Symbolic - That is, do we understand the Bible as a book of similies and metaphors that everything is really a picture of something else. Hell is really the grave, demons are mental illness,
being born again, just means to change your life, the resurrection is symbolic of a new beginnings. Listen, if the literal sense makes good sense, seek no other sense. If the text is using figures of speech like similes or
methaphors, look for those words, such as "Like," or "as," or if it is a hyperboles or euphenisms, generally another part of the Bible can explain it.
But you should know that, no other book of antiquity is as scrutinized, and challenged as the Bible. How many times have you heard, "You interpret it your way and I'll interpret it my way." or, "Two
people can read the same verse and get a different understanding."
II. The Teaching of Jesus answers all of these both from His day and ours.
A. The Purpose of Jesus, v. 17 again reads, ""Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. The word, 'destroy,' means to demolish or abolish. The
first thing Jesus our Lord wants us to know is, that neither in His teaching or in His life did He intend to abolish the teachings of the Bible that they had. The Law and the Prophets refers to the whole of the Bible (The Old
Testament) Genesis thru Malachi. Notice, there are three things He wanted to do.
- Confirm- That is, He wanted to confirm that the Bible, the whole Bible, is God's Word and is literal and relevant for all people at all time.
- Reveal- Jesus's teachings would reveal what God's intent was for His Word. That's why He will say, "You have it heard it said..., but I say...." What we will see in the rest of these 3 chapters is the
Spirit that lies behind the law. He wanted the people to see that God wanted the heart to want to honor God in every area of life and not just have a system of do's and don'ts; though the teachers of His day should have known
that. God had repeatedly said, that he didn't want their religious practices He wanted their hearts. He would tell them that he was sick of their passionless religion. And Isaiah said, 'that with their mouths they show much love
but their hearts are far from Him.' Suppose you told your child to wash the dishes while you go to the grocery store. When you come home you notice the dishes are all washed, but the glasses, forks and spoons, serving bowls, and
pots and pans are still piled up in the sink. Would you say that they were obedient? They missed the spirit of what you intended, yet they could claim that they did exactly what you said. Jesus' teaching is going to show that
what God wants is your heart that wants to love, trust, and honor Him in everything.
- Fulfill - Here we could camp for an hour, but instead we will hit the high spots.
Jesus fulfilled the law by keeping it perfectly and without sin.
Jesus taught the law literally and gave it's meaning
But Jesus also was the fulfillment of the law. All the symbols, laws. and sacrifices pointed to Him. In fact the entire Bible is Christ centered. In John 5:38-40, Jesus said, "But you do not have His word
abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may
However, 3 years from when He gave this sermon, He would bring in the fulfillment of the New Covenant, which ended the sacrifices and ceremonies and the conditional promises of the Mosaic Law but that was
just as God said it would be in Jeremiah 31 and others. The church is now under the New Covenant, an unconditional commitment of God to His Children. However, the moral laws are still to be kept. The Ten Commandments, and the
laws of marriage and sex, are repeated in the New Covenant. Think of an acorn. There are two ways of dealing with an acorn. You can put it on the ground and crush it with your foot, or you can plant it in the ground and it will
be grow into an oak tree and fulfill it's purpose. Jesus fulfilled the O.T. laws and the prophecies of the prophets.
B. The Permanence of God's Word (v.18)
- Inspired by God. Jesus made it clear that the Bible is God's word and is permanent. The Old testament, which is all there was at that time, was quoted by Jesus over and over. 35 years later Paul would
tell Timothy, that in the midst of turmoil, he must stay in the Bible, (the O.T.). Listen, "But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from
childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for
correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." Peter also reminds us in 2 Peter 1:19-21, "And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do
well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by
the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." That includes, Jesus says, the slightest stroke of the pen, the dot over an I, or the cross of a T, every letter of every word and every
grammatical point is inspired, God-Breathed, given by the Holy Spirit and is important. Those genealogies, the numbers, the fine points of the law and sacrifices, that may not mean much for you and I, have had tremendous
significance to peoples at different times. The Priesthood and the Throne could only be occupied by Levites, and the Throne had to be able to show that the King was indeed a descendent of Abraham through Judah and David.
- Always Relevant - Listen carefully, The laws of marriage, sexual purity, human rights, finances, worship, and more are as relevant today as they were when they were given.
C. The Perception of Men - (v.19) - Here is dangerous ground, This verse does not talk about the loss of salvation but of position and reward in the kingdom. Our Lord is going to explain this in the
verses that follow, but do not deceive yourself in to thinking that you can pick and choose what you will obey, or what we need to do or not do. Don't say, It is more important that I don't kill, steal, or lie, than it is to
care for the poor, or protect my eyes and mind form garbage. I can sleep with someone I am not married to as long as I go to church and give. I can look as long as I don't touch and think I am okay with God. God help those
pastors and teachers that say there is no hell, or that homosexuality is okay, or that being good is good enough and we don't need that born again stuff, or that the Bible only contains God's word and we have to figure it out
But the person who wants to know God's word and wants to do all it says because he wants to honor His or her Father will honored in the Kingdom.
D. The Plan of God for Salvation (v.20 Cp. John 5:38-40)
- Not by being Religious - This must have shocked the people. If these religious people won't make it, what chance do we have? Jesus is simply saying that being good isn't good enough. Being religious is
being right. Keeping a do and don't list won't get you into heaven or into the Kingdom. Paul would say, In Galatians 2:16, " knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have
believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified." and in Romans 3:19-20, "knowing that a man is not justified by
the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified."
God isn't looking for religious people nor is He promoting religion. What God wants is a heart that is tender toward Him. He wants a personal relationship with His people. He wants us to know Him deeply and personally. Remember
Jeremiah 9:23-24, "Thus says the Lord: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these I delight," says the Lord." The law reveals how Holy God is and how impossible it is for us to be perfect in ourselves. But God reveals that the heart that wants to know and honor Him is the one that will inherit
the kingdom and spend eternity with Him in Heaven. That's why the Beatitudes were given. Look at them again.
- Having a Changed Heart- Paul will tell us that righteousness is imputed; that is, placed on your account when you humble yourself and in repentance and faith you believe God. Romans 4:13; 21-25.
Now listen carefully, a changed heart doesn't look at the Bible as what can I do and get away with, or how close can I get to the line without crossing it, but how can I honor by Father in everything. And
the rule of thumb ought to be as Paul says in Romans 14, "when in doubt, don't."
A changed heart can't be manufactured by our will, we need God to change t0 by His Spirit, which he will do when we call to Him for forgiveness and faith. That's why Jesus told Nicodemus that He must be
born again. His religion wouldn't get him in the Kingdom. He needed the righteousness that comes by faith in the provision of God in Christ.
Bottom line. God's word is literal, relevant, and absolute. It is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path. It's laws are permanent. It reveals God's holiness and our inability to be perfect by
ourselves. God isn't looking for religion. Being Good will never be good enough, nor will religion get you into the Kingdom. Your heart needs repent and to be changed by faith in Jesus Christ. When you do, God imputes
righteousness to your account and adopts you as His child.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman