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Think about it: All anyone had [at most] was their Old Testament, tho’ they didn’t call it that! God’s Word is under attack today, and we are called to defend it…all of it! And that’s just what Jesus did in our text.
We continue looking at the greatest sermon ever preached, by the greatest preacher Who ever lived. A great sermon has 3 elements:
1. Explanation—you explain the principles you want to get across. We all need to have the right principles in place in our lives. People who go wrong in practice invariably had the wrong principles behind it all. What you believe always affects how you behave.
2. Illustration—you paint a word picture to help open the eyes of the listeners. It’s like a window that shines the light of truth into people’s hearts.
3. Application—you make it relevant to the people listening. Jesus did this, because He knew our human nature, that we will listen to explanation and illustration, but we resist making personal application to ourselves. We may apply it to others, but we need someone else to help apply it to us! It’s during application that many preachers get into trouble. People don’t mind me explaining Biblical principles or illustrating them, but if I go applying it to them, personally, well, the nerve of that guy!
I’m thankful for a group that doesn’t mind having their toes stepped on, realizing it’s God and His Word applying pressure, not His man.
The kids sing, “I stand alone on the Word of God…” Actually, it’s needs to step on us!
Ill.—I heard about a black preacher, who had a very vocal congregation [of my dreams]! He preached to them, and they preached back to him [like saying ‘sic ‘em’ to a dog!] He used all 3 elements above to teach the principle of getting the church to grow. He illustrated church growth by the growth of a child:
“If the church is gonna grow, she’ll have to learn to crawl.”
And all the people responded: “let her crawl, preacher, let her crawl.”
“If the church is gonna grow, she’ll have to learn to walk.”
“let her walk, preacher, let her walk.”
“If the church is gonna grow, she’ll have to learn to run.”
“let her run, preacher, let her run.”
“If the church is gonna grow, she’ll have to learn to fly.”
“let her fly, preacher, let her fly.”
All was at a fevered pitch, so it was time to make his application. He said,
“If the church is ever gonna walk, run, and fly, it’s gonna take lots of money!”
And they all said together, “let her crawl, preacher, let her crawl!”
Well, in this great sermon of Jesus’, He’s already given us the explanation…the beatitudes: How we enter / express / enjoy the kingdom of God. After His explanation He gave 2 great illustrations, of salt and light. “Salt that penetrates and light that radiates”. Now Jesus moves to His application.
Now, since He’s preaching to Jewish people who have only the OT, He makes His application there. He knows that a good Jew will take what He’s preaching and lay it beside their OT scroll and see how it measures up.
v. 17 Here in this passage Jesus shows them 3 things:
The culmination of the law, appreciation for the law, and interpretation of the law.
We’ll just look at part this morning, and then finish up tonite.
I. Culmination of the OT
The OT is divided into the 2 parts Jesus mentioned in v. 17: The Law & The Prophets. Jesus is saying, what I say will be in harmonious agreement with the teachings of your OT. I won’t contradict it, diminish the importance of it, or destroy it. But then He goes a step further, and says, not only will I not destroy it, I’ve actually come to fulfill it! Jesus is saying, I am the very culmination of your OT!
Look ahead to 7:28-29. No wonder they were astonished at His authority…He was making a very major claim. And no wonder many of the Jewish leaders like the scribes and Pharisees wanted rid of Him. But they had a problem. In order to condemn Him, they would have to find fault in Him acc’d to their OT. But He’s claiming to be the very fulfillment of their OT.
How was Jesus the fulfillment of the OT? Well, the OT law can be divided into 3 parts: The moral law, the ceremonial law, and the civil [judicial] law.
The moral law is God’s holy demands for His people, such as the 10 commandments, the “thou shalt not’s”, which, by the way, are still in effect today.
The ceremonial law is the OT system of sacrifices, offerings and feasts. More on that in a minute.
The civil law was their actual government as a nation.
Jesus fulfilled all 3 elements of the law.
But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
He was the God-Man. And though he was wrapped in human flesh and subject to the same temptations as we are, He never sinned, and so He fulfilled the moral law…He kept the law to perfection in a way we cannot!
Even in His trial and death, no fault could be found in Him, and the Roman soldier said, Truly this was the Son of God. Even His enemies had to admit that He had done what none other had ever done…fulfilled the moral law of God!
About the ceremonial law: what is the meaning of all these slain animals, blood, feasts and offerings? Simply this: they are all types and pictures of the death of Christ. And just as Jesus fulfilled God’s moral law in His perfect life, He fulfilled God’s ceremonial law in His sacrificial death!
The symbolism and typology in the OT is so extraordinary…a very exciting study. When you look at the Tabernacle you see Jesus in every article.
The fence around it has but 1 gate. If you were gonna get to God’s presence inside the Holy of Holies, you had to enter thru that 1 gate. So much for “we’re all going to heaven, just taking different roads!” Jesus said in the NT, I am the door, I am the way. The tabernacle gate’s colors even symbolized things about Christ.
Then you came to a brass altar, a picture of judgment, and you had to have a perfect, male lamb to sacrifice in order to go any further. This is a picture of Christ. And the OT progression is phenomenal. Back in Genesis, Abel offered a lamb for himself. It was a lamb for a man. In Exodus, Moses said every family had to offer a lamb. 1 lamb for one fam. In Leviticus on the Day of Atonement, 1 lamb was slain for the entire nation. See the progression? A lamb for a man, then a lamb for a fam., then a lamb for their whole clan…but then OT became NT as John the Baptist said, Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world!
After the brazen altar is the brazen laver, where we see Jesus, the water of life. Then you enter the holy place, with reverence, and when you do, look to your right, and see the table of showbread, and you see Jesus the bread of life. Look to your left and there’s a golden lampstand, indicating Jesus, the light of the world. Straight ahead is an altar of incense…Jesus ever living and making intercession for us as our great High Priest. Enter thru the veil that Jesus tore a path thru, and approach the throne of grace, and you find the Ark of the Covenant, inside of which are the tablets of stone w/ God’s moral law, the commandments written upon them. Also in there is Aaron’s rod that budded, just a dead stick that brought forth life, and wow, there’s Jesus, the Resurrection! Also a jar of manna for Jesus our nourishement. Manna that was white for His purity, manna that was round for His deity, and manna that fell as a gift from heaven right where the people were…and you can come to Jesus today, and He’ll take you right where you are. Jesus said it first, ‘come as you are, and you’ll leave better!’ “Just as I am…” Atop the Ark of the Covenant is a slab of gold, a mercy seat, upon which blood was sprinkled by the High Priest, and now when God looks down upon the moral law in that box, He has to look at it thru the blood.
That means a lot to me, because I cannot keep the moral law, so praise God Jesus kept it for me, then fulfilled the ceremonial law, doing away w/ the need for the veil, the priest, and all the pomp and circumstance…and no more blood is required as an offering.
Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
Jesus fulfilled the moral and ceremonial law. So what about the civil [judicial] law?
This was given just for Israel as a nation, w/ God as the leader in a Theocracy. Listen carefully: at the end of Jesus’ ministry he turned to the Jews and said,
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
I Pet. chapter 2 makes it clear that new nation is the church, and so Christ fulfilled the civil, judicial law, in the establishment of His church, and now we are His nation under His leadership.
Jesus came to be the fulfillment of the law!
Aren’t you glad He did? Because, the only human way to heaven is to keep the law, which many have tried or claimed to do, but none have come close to doing. So, salvation is of the Lord, the only One to keep the law, to fulfill it. So, salvation isn’t by trying, it’s by trusting. You cannot work your way to heaven. It’s not if your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds. The law has to be fulfilled, and it was in Christ in His perfect life, and sacrificial death, and if you get saved today you join the church in following a new leader in His kingdom.
So, what about the prophets? How did Jesus fulfill both the law AND the prophets? Over 330 fulfilled prophecies, that’s how!
Imagine the scene in heaven when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and old Micah stands up and says, I told you so! [Micah 5:2]
Born of a virgin—Isaiah 7:14
Of the tribe of Judah—Moses [Gen. 49:10]
Riding the colt of the donkey—Zechariah
Betrayed for 30 pcs. of silver—that’s me too! [Zech. 9:9]
Stood silent before accusers—Isaiah 53
Lots cast for his robe, pierced hands and feet, laughed to scorn, thirsty, crying My God, why hast thou forsaken me?—Psalmist in Psalm 22
…and if Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies about His first coming, don’t you know He’ll fulfill the prophecies of His 2nd coming! Some don’t believe the rapture will really occur…that’s okay, many didn’t believe in His 1st coming either, but it happened nonetheless!
In Bethlehem He came TO His own, He’s coming back FOR His own, and 7 years later He’ll return WITH His own to set up His Kingdom!
Jesus is the culmination of the OT.
II. Appreciation for the OT
v. 18 Jesus is verifying the value and authority of the OT scriptures.
“Verily” = Truly or Amen!
Jot and tittle = heb. markings. Jot is the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet, and tittle is the smallest mark on a letter…so, cross every i, dot every t, the Word of God is perfect!
The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
When the writers of the Bible wrote by inspiration of God, not only were their books inspired / chapters / paragraphs / sentences / words / letters / but the very markings of each letter were inspired of God…it’s absolute authority. It’s not just a good book, it’s God’s book…not just a good way to go, but the only way to go, it’s not just helpful suggestions, but holy commandments…not for our consideration, but our consecration. It’s not a cafeteria spread to pick and choose what you like and leave behind what doesn’t ‘agree’ with you, but it’s spiritual bread, it’s milk, it’s meat…worthy of meditation…chew on it day and night!
That’s Jesus’ appreciation He’s showing…and if that’s His opinion of the OT, then that’s my opinion too!
I appreciate having my own Bible. In the history of Christianity, that’s a relatively novel thing to be able to say…that you have your own complete copy of the Bible. Even today in many lands, young believers clutch a Gospel of John they were lucky enough to receive when they got saved, or a small NT, but the whole Bible, inc. all those wonderful OT stories and teachings, wow…what a privilege! In the days of Jesus, the people didn’t have their own copies of the OT…they depended on the scribes and priests to read it to them in the synagogue. That’s why Jesus said, “you have HEARD that it has been said…but I say unto you.”
Do you appreciate having your own Bible? I know of a preacher who visited an underground church in a communist country, and all they had were photocopies of select passages stapled together, and those they had to share and take turns with, and they saw his Bible he was carrying, and asked to hold it…there a group gathered around that Bible, weeping!
We are a spoiled people with 3 and 4 copies each, mostly collecting dust on shelves, and preachers having to beg their people to carry one to church, and if they do, to be willing to turn to different passages, or know how to find them, let alone spend daily time reading the precious love letter in our laps!
It’s easy to say, I believe it from cover to cover, from Genesis to Concordance…and I believe the maps! But it doesn’t matter that you believe it, if you don’t read it!
Ill.—preacher’s son was heading off to a liberal college / Pastor was afraid his son’s faith would be shaken / said, they’re gonna question the Bible, and tell you it’s all fairy tales…don’t let ‘em take Jonah out of your Bible [figured they’d attack that account] / gone for 2 yrs., came home / dad said, they didn’t ruin you did they? / I hope not, dad / they didn’t take Jonah out did they? / aw, dad, Jonah’s not even in your Bible / dad looked to show him…it wasn’t there / son had torn it out 2 years before and his dad never even noticed. / Son asked, what’s the difference between a liberal professor denying it’s true and a Christian failing to read it?
v. 19 Jesus places a tremendous responsibility on those of us who teach and preach the Word of God…and woe to the one who sows seeds of doubt in the minds of his hearers, or fails to practice what he preaches to his people!
We’ve seen Jesus as the culmination of the OT, and His appreciation for it…
III. Interpretation of the OT
v. 20 The following verses Jesus shares 6 illustrations of ‘ye have heard, but I say…’ He has already said His teachings are in line w/ the OT, but now He’s saying, my teachings will sound different to you than they way you’ve been hearing it!
Jesus says, my interpretation doesn’t agree w/ their interpretation, and if you don’t get in line w/ these things, you won’t make it to heaven, or truly be my disciple on earth.
What was wrong with the scribes and Pharisees’ interpretation, in a nutshell?
· Concerned with details, rather than principles.
· Concerned with actions, rather than motives.
· Concerned with doing, rather than being.
· Concerned with the letter of the law, forgot the spirit of the law.
They were hypocrites, making Christianity outward rather than inward. Reputation more imp’t than character. One is what people think you are, the other is what God knows you are!
Letter vs. Spirit
Ill.—episode of Leave it to Beaver where Wally is told by June not to take his brother to a certain horror movie. Eddie Haskell later suggests, she didn’t say Beaver couldn’t take you…give him the money!
As kids we all tried to find ways to be able to say we were in compliance, when we truly were not. “Stand up, son” “I may be standin’ on the outside, but I’m sittin’ on the inside!”
That’s what the Pharisees did, but in much grander fashion. They may have had the details down, but the principles were long gone. Outward actions were right, but the inward motives were wrong. They did the right things, but their heart was not right. They reconciled things thru loopholes, subtleties, traditions, and man made rules. They completely perverted the OT law…they misapplied, misappropriated, and misinterpreted it.
So, Jesus says, ye have heard, but I say…sweeping away years and years of religious garbage that had built up.
Then the 6 illustrations start, and when Jesus says in each of them, ‘but I say’ He’s not correcting the OT law at all, but the false interpretations that man had brought out.
Here in this passage we have the original lawgiver expounding His law, cleaning up His intentions, and correcting the perversions of men.
Please don’t even read ahead to these 6 illustrations…I don’t want us to miss the forest for the trees. The principles Jesus is trying to teach aren’t about these 6 things alone, but are huge principles that apply to everything of this life, not just murder and hatred, adultery and lust, divorce, swearing, lawsuits, and our enemies.
Jesus teachings on how to interpret the Law:
A. Outward conformity is not enough, motives are equally important.
The Pharisees only had 1 motive, the praise of men. It was all for show. The fasted and prayed and gave offerings in a very public way. Christians will stand in a judgment at the seat of Christ, and their our works will be judged of what “sort” they are, indicating motives…and only what works were done for the right motive will survive the fire and be rewarded. It’s not enough for me to preach a sermon, I have to preach it for the right reasons.
Teach a class / sing a special / perform a duty …it all has to be from the right heart motive.
B. Outward conformity is not enough, thoughts and desires are equally important.
Jesus knew that murder begins in the heart, and so he condemned hatred and anger.
Jesus knew that adultery begins in the heart, so he condemned lust.
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
Our thoughts can be like termites working away on the inner structure of our spirits until one day it all comes toppling down, and then people will say, oh my, they ‘fell’ into sin. No! They slid into sin gradually, subtly, on wicked thoughts and imaginations.
C. The law is not just negative, but also positive.
Ie: We’re not only saved FROM sin, but also saved UNTO righteousness. Not just from hell, but to heaven. The law isn’t just a list of don’ts, but also “do’s”…not just about what’s wrong, but about what’s right!
Jesus challenges us tonite, saying, don’t just hate adultery, but fall in love w/ purity. Don’t just hate lying, fall in love w/ the truth.
To some Christianity is simply, “I don’t cuss, chew, or kiss the girls that do!” Well, aren’t you spiritual! Let’s not just approach God’s law as a bunch of negatives, but truly in it’s fullness, it’s totally positive! Truly, there’s no good news w/out bad news, and no positives w/out negatives, and the preacher HAS to step on toes, but Jesus urges us all to go on farther than that, working on the practical application of these things unto a happy, healthy Christian existence!
D. The law is not to oppress us, but to free us.
It’s not there to bind us unto obedience, but to set us free for spiritual growth. Living a holy life is not a grievous, restricted existence in which you cannot smile, laugh, and enjoy life.
1 John 5:3
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
Some Christians have a bad case of stinkin’ thinkin’, and never seem to grasp the concept that the gospel is…what? Good news!
E. The law is not the end in itself, but is an expression of our love for God.
Ill.—a Pharisee is ready for bed / walks over to a wall on which hang the 10 commandments / reads them, checks them off 1 by 1, saying, I didn’t do this today, or that / all is well between me and God. Jesus says no, here’s your checklist as you pillow your head: “Dear Lord, have you been supreme in my life today? Have I brought glory and honor to you? Do I know you better today? Have I deepened my relationship with you? Are their wicked thoughts in me?”
Ill.—C.H. Spurgeon, “I want to live my life in such a way that when I lay my head on my pillow at night I can say ‘Jesus, I love you,’ and for the Lord to be able to say, ‘I know you do, Charles, I know you do’.”
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A great sermon has 3 elements:
· E tion—the principles
· I tion—paint a picture
· A tion—make it relevant
I. Culmination of the OT
OT law can be divided into 3 parts:
· The moral law is God’s h d for His people.
Jesus fulfilled God’s moral law in His perfect l .
· The ceremonial law is the OT system of s , offerings and feasts.
Jesus fulfilled God’s ceremonial law in His sacrificial d .
· The civil law was their actual government as a n .
Christ fulfilled the civil law in the establishment of His c .
II. Appreciation for the OT
III. Interpretation of the OT
What was wrong with the Pharisees’ interpretation?
· Concerned with d , rather than p .
· Concerned with a , rather than m .
· Concerned with d , rather than b .
· Concerned with the l of the law, forgot the s of the law.
Jesus’ teachings on how to interpret the Law:
A. Outward conformity is not enough, m are equally important.
B. Outward conformity is not enough, t and
d are equally important.
C. The law is not just n , but also p .
D. The law is not to o us, but to f us.
E. The law is not the e in itself, but is an e of our love for God.
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