Matthew 5:17-26 NASB
¹⁷Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. ¹⁸For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
¹⁹Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
²⁰For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
²¹You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ ²²But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
²³Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, ²⁴leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
²⁵Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. ²⁶Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.
Jesus asks to live according to the meaning of the law.
Jesus speaks to ‘the multitude that know not the law’.
He just calls them happy, and points them out as the salt to the earth and the light to the world.
Does He really mean that?
Does He just ignore the law?
No, when that misunderstanding has arisen, Jesus immediately clears it up.
▪︎ Do not think that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets (Matthew 5:17).
▪︎ Don’t think that the law has no value now.
The law remains very important”
For truly I say to you,
until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or stroke
shall pass from the Law
until all is accomplished.
The yot is the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet.
The tittle is a parenthesis on some Hebrew letters, which either served to distinguish them from other letters or was applied only for decoration.
Jesus did not come to set aside the law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). In Him everything will happen that the law and the prophets have spoken of. Soon on the cross it will sound: ‘It is finished!’ (John 19:30) – the whole law and all that the prophets have said about the messianic age.
And the followers of Jesus?
They will fulfill the law after Him.
It is very important in their lives.
Justice must be the hallmark of their lives.
Justice greater than that of the Pharisees.
To Jesus’ disciples it would have sounded like a lightning from a blue sky. Just now they had been blessed, designated as salt and light to the world. Now suddenly that warning: ‘Greater righteousness than that of the Pharisees is necessary, or else you will not enter the kingdom of God’ (Matthew 5:19,20).
It must have been a slap in the face, because the righteousness of the Pharisees was held in high regard by all (For Jesus’ judgment on the righteousness of the Pharisees, see Matthew 23:3,4).
What does Jesus mean?
In the following He will explain it with the help of some examples.
First, the example of the sixth commandment (Matthew 5:21-26; Our relationship with our fellowmen has consequences for our relationship with God and his eternal judgment!).
It is clear what Jesus means by His righteousness.
It is not about the outward appearance, but about the depth of our heart.
Not because of the visible letter of the law, but because of the hidden spirit (See also Romans 2:28,29).
Question: What does Matthew 5:20 mean to you?
▪︎ Ask the Lord to help you do what He wills.
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