09 September 9, 2012 Matthew 5;17-48 High Expectations
HIGH EXPECTATIONS MATTHEW 5:17-48 SEPTEMBER 9, 2012 FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI, USA HIGH EXPECTATIONSMatthew 5:17-19 HCSB 17 “Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come todestroy but to fulfill. 18 For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not thesmallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things areaccomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandsand teaches people to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. Butwhoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdomof heaven.” Matthew 5:17-19 HCSBBecause we’re saved by grace and not by keeping the Law, are we expected tokeep the Law?
Jesus warned that He did not come to destroy the Law or the Prophets (meaning theOld Testament Scriptures).Jesus solidly affirmed the authority of Old Testament Scriptures by announcing He hadcome to fulfill them. The overarching predictive message of the OT relates to humanity’s sin and God’s promise to bless all nations through Abraham’s descendant (Jesus Christ).Jesus fulfilled that promise by coming as the Savior through Whom God offers theblessing of redemption to all who will receive Him.Hebrews 10:11 Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the actualform of those realities, it can never perfect the worshipers by the same sacrifices theycontinually offer year after year. Hebrews 10:1Hebrews 10:16-1716 “This is the covenant I will make with them after those days,” says the Lord: “I will put My laws on their hearts and write them on their minds,”17 He adds: “I will never again remember their sins and their lawless acts.” Hebrews 10:16-17Jeremiah 31:33-34 (Hebrews 10:16-17)33 “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days”—the Lord’s declaration. “I will put My teaching within them and write it on their hearts. Iwill be their God, and they will be My people. 34 No longer will one teach hisneighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from theleast to the greatest of them”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “For I will forgive theirwrongdoing and never again remember their sin.” Jeremiah 31:33-34 (Hebrews 10:16-17)
Christ’s atoning death and resurrection also fulfilled or completed the purpose of lawsassociated with animal sacrifices and the priesthood, which simply foreshadowedHim (so we no longer need to sacrifice animals or have human priests to mediatebetween God and us). Furthermore, His teachings did not displace the Law but ratherobeyed or filled it full of its intended meaning.Jesus is on every page of the Old Testament!Hebrews 11:1 HCSB1“Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 HCSBHebrews 11:1 KJV1“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 KJV
Genesis 6:14 (God told Noah)14 “Make an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it with pitchinside and outside.” Genesis 6:14The ark was sealed with pitch (Gen 6:14), making it impenetrable by the judgmentwaters.We are sealed in Christ by the Holy Spirit of God.2 Corinthians 1:2222 “He has also sealed us and given us the Spirit as a down payment in our hearts.” 2 Corinthians 1:22Genesis 6:15-1615 “This is how you are to make it: … 16 … You are to put a door in the side of theark.” Genesis 6:15-16Gen 6:16 tells us the ark was designed with only one means to enter.Jesus Christ alone is the way to the Father (John 14:6).John 14:66 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Fatherexcept through Me.” John 14:6John 10:99 “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved …” John 10:9The ark was a shadow of God’s plan of salvation from the coming judgment and itwas planned entirely by the Father, not one element of design was left for Noah.Genesis 7:1616 “Those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered just as God hadcommanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in.” Genesis 7:16The eternal security of the believer.Noah may have fallen down in the ark but he could never fall out of the ark!Psalm 23
Exodus 125 “You must have an unblemished animal, a year-old male;6 slaughter it21 slaughter the Passover animal.7 take some of the blood22 Take a cluster of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and brush the linteland the two doorposts with some of the blood in the basin.According to Ceil & Moishe Rosen in "Christ in the Passover", the basin in Exodus 12:22was not a container in the sense that we use the word today.The word comes from the Egyptian "sap" meaning the threshold or ditch was dug infront of the doorway to the house to avoid flooding.People placed a container in the ditch to prevent seepage.The Israelites killed their Passover lambs right by the doors where they were about tosprinkle blood and the blood from the slaughter automatically ran into the depression(basin) at the threshold.Thus the blood was already at the "foot" of the doorwhen it was struck onto the doorposts and lintels.
1 Corinthians 5:7b7b “for Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.” 1 Corinthians 5:7bMannaExodus 16:15-16 (Exodus 16:15-16)15 When the Israelites saw it, they asked one another, “What is it?” because theydidn’t know what it was.Moses told them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. 16 This is what theLORD has commanded: ‘Gather as much of it as each person needs to eat.’”John 6:30-3530 “What sign then are You going to do so we may see and believe You?” theyasked. “What are You going to perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in thewilderness, just as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”32 Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Moses didn’t give you the bread from heaven,but My Father gives you the real bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is theOne Who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 Then they said, “Sir, give us this bread always!”35 “I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to Me will ever behungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.” John 6:30-35 (Exodus 16:15-16) Medical CaduceusNumbers 21:99 “So Moses made a bronze snake and mounted it on a pole. Whenever someonewas bitten, and he looked at the bronze snake, he recovered.” Numbers 21:9John 3:12, 14-1512 “I have told you about things that happen on earth and you don’t believe, howwill you believe if I tell you about things of heaven?14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be liftedup, 15 so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.” John 3:12, 14-15Jonah and Matthew 12:4040 “For as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights, so theSon of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.” Jonah and Matthew 12:40 Jonathan Edwards identified an example in Daniel 3:25, when the fourth man in the furnace is described as "like a son of the gods." Joseph as a picture of Jesus Read through Genesis chapters 37, 39-41, and 45-46 and make your own comparisons.
So, is the Old Testament finished, over, done?Should we ignore it?Not according to Jesus.Not even a dot over an i or a cross-mark of a t will be set aside until all things areaccomplished (Matt. 5:18).All Old Testament Scripture pertaining to Christ’s first coming has been accomplished,but the prophecies related to Christ’s return have not.The ethical and moral principles of the Law are not only still in force but also areechoed in the New Testament.Jesus’ words instruct us to take the Old Testament teachings seriously.Those who dismiss them and encourage others to do so will miss blessings in this lifeand in the life to come—they will be called least in the kingdom of heaven(Matthew 5:19).This kingdom is the realm in which Christ is honored as Lord and King, that is, the realmof the redeemed.
Those who obey and teach the Law will be called great (v. 19).Determine to be a faithful student of the Old Testament, allow God’s Spirit to speakto you through it and to lead you in applying it without becoming enslaved to itsritualistic provisions. Law vs grace. 10% vs 100%Matthew 5:20 20 “For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes andPharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20Matthew 5:4848 “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48Scribes and Pharisees were viewed as spiritual giants in Jesus’ day (v. 20).You can almost hear the audience murmuring, We have to be more righteous thanthem?
Scribes were viewed as experts at interpreting and applying God’s Law. They knewthe Old Testament teachings up, down, and sideways.Pharisees were known to take extreme measures to ensure they kept each of God’scommands. They even tithed herbs grown in their household gardens (Luke 11:42)!Who could ever hope to top these groups on the righteousness chart and enter thekingdom of heaven, or experience the reign of God?Jesus was not talking here about God’simputing Christ’s righteousness to sinnerswho believe in Him (justification).Here He meant doing right by others, sayingthe right words, making the right choices,doing the right things—all the attitudes andactions labeled right in Scriptures.Scribes and Pharisees were convinced they were righteous, and most people agreedwith them. Their lives literally revolved around keeping religious rules, traditions, andrituals. Rabbis over centuries had been debating and defining how each Biblicalcommand was to be obeyed and how it could be broken.
This resulted in a multitude of rules that formed a tradition they viewed as having asmuch authority as the Scriptures.Why, then, didn’t Jesus commend them for their conscientious and scrupulous effortsto obey the Law?Here’s why: Their supposed righteousness was based on outward deeds rather thaninward devotion (see Isa. 29:13).Isaiah 29:1313 The Lord said: “Because these people approach Me with their mouths to honor Me with lip-service – yet their hearts are far from Me, and their worship consists of man-made rules learned by rote.” Isaiah 29:13Don’t be too quick to smirk at the scribes and Pharisees.Have you ever “done your duty” as a Christian when your heart wasn’t in it?Have you merely gone through the motions when attending worship (with all itselements, including the offering), or praying—at meals or during personal devotions;or showing up for church visitation, or filling various volunteer positions or assignments?Did any of that so-called obedience please God?Have I repented?Am I seeking to do better?We should be seeking more consistentlyto obey the greatest commandment—to love God with our whole heart.This is the only way our righteousness can exceed that of the Pharisees.Jesus is never satisfied with mediocre discipleship.He set the highest standard possible — high expectations!
Matthew 5:48“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48Wait a minute, even if our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees,this exhortation still sinks our ships!Our personal experience, observation, and Scriptures such as 1 John 1:8 (whichaddresses believers) prove this is a shore we’ll never reach in this life (1 John 3:2-3).1 John 1:88 ”If we say, ‘We have no sin,’ we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:81 John 3:2-32 Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet beenrevealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will seeHim as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He ispure.” 1 John 3:2-3“perfect”- means having reached the goal, the end or limit, thus complete, full orperfect.Nothing less than perfect obedience is the goal our Lord has set before us.The standard for measuring this is God’s own perfection as revealed in the Lord JesusChrist (Eph 4:15).High expectations!Ephesians 4:1515 “But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him Who is the head—Christ.” Ephesians 4:15Even so, Jesus expects us to take this command seriously.He has given us His Spirit to guide and empower us for Christian living and service.
While we may never in this life complete the journey toward godly perfection, we canstay the course.So let’s continue to pursue the goal of becoming like our Lord in our attitudes andactions.This will benefit us in at least three ways: (1) it will keep us on the right course, (2) it will remind us how foolish we are to measure our discipleship by other believers, and (3) it will foster humility and compassion in all our relationships.Matthew 5:21-2221 “You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoevermurders will be subject to judgment. 22 But I tell you, everyone who is angry with hisbrother will be subject to judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Fool!’ will besubject to the Sanhedrin. But whoever says, ‘You moron!’ will be subject to hellfire.” Matthew 5:21-22One example is worth more than a dozen generalities.Jesus, the Master Teacher, gave six examples that help us see how to move beyondthe Pharisees’ kind of righteousness (v. 20).
In each example, He set forth a common religious teaching, sometimes loosely basedon Scripture, and then added what obedience to that law actually involved.He did not refute Biblical teachings, but He pointed out how superficially thoseteachings were being understood and practiced.In each example Jesus illustrated how to apply the principle behind the particularlaw.We often call this keeping the spirit of the law rather than just the letter of the law.Jesus’ first example was the law against murder (v. 21).He showed that obeying this law meant not having murderous hearts as well as nothaving murderous hands.The spirit of this law is to respond to personal offenses with forbearance andforgiveness rather than with anger and violence.That makes keeping this law a lot tougher.It’s easier to choose not to put an offender in the ground than to forego anger andseek reconciliation.There is an account of two women in a small church that sat on opposite sides of thesanctuary and never spoke to each other.According to Jesus, their anger put them in the same boat with murderers.
Early in their dispute they had called each other contemptuous names, similar to foolor moron (v. 22).Those are disparaging terms that insult one’s moral choices (character) andintellectual ability (good sense). Jesus was saying that obeying the command against murder means setting aside anger and doing everything possible to restore fellowship. He also was showing the penalty for disobedience is quite severe (subject to hellfire).Matthew 5:27-2827“You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. 28 But I tell you,everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery withher in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28Jesus next cited the command against adultery (v. 27).This command means to remain faithful to one’s spouse.Keeping the spirit of this law includes avoiding adulteryin one’s heart by lusting for a non-spouse (v. 28).
Men and women both experience attraction toward certain members of the opposite sex to whom they are not married. When we dwell on that attraction, however, and allow it to lead us into immoral fantasies, we commit adultery in our hearts.A seminary student asked a faculty member well past “retirement age” how old aperson had to be before lust was no longer a problem.His honest answer?“Older than me.”So we ask along with the Psalmist,“How can a young man [plus men and women, married and single] keep … pure?”The answer is, “By keeping Your word” (Ps. 119:9).A more mature pastor told me long ago,“It takes more than loving one’s wife to stay faithful to her.”He went on to explain that a dead-serious commitment to be faithful to the Lord isrequired.Again, we believers are not left on our own; we have the promise of the Holy Spirit tohelp us obey the Lord from our hearts.
Matthew 5:31-3231“It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife must give her a written notice ofdivorce. 32 But I tell you, everyone who divorces his wife, except in a case of sexualimmorality, causes her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced womancommits adultery.” Matthew 5:31-32 The next example is, “Whoever divorces his wife must give her a written notice of divorce” (v. 31; read Deut. 24:1-5). The written notice demonstrated eligibility to marry again, enabling the woman to become legally attached to another provider. The Pharisees had long and loud debates about the legitimate causes for divorce. (See Matt. 19:3-9—Jesus explained the permission for divorce was a concession to men’s hardened hearts and emphasized God’s intention that marriage be a permanent union.)Jesus always put the spotlight on the sanctity of marriage, not on breaking themarriage with divorce (vv. 4-6). In other words, the big idea here is marriage. The spirit of the law calls for me to focus on being the husband my wife needs me to be, and for her to focus on being the wife I need her to be. Any spouse can find faults aplenty in his or her mate, and to dwell on those faults fosters bitterness and builds barriers.
To dwell on how we married folk can be better spouses to each other buildsmarriages.Notice that even though Jesus recognizedsexual immorality as a permissible reasonto break a marriage, He did not commanddivorce in such cases (5:32), contrary toprevailing Jewish law of the day.This is no knock against believers who haveexperienced the pain of divorce.In some cases, divorce can be the lesserof two bad options. God’s unfailing love and redeeming mercy are as available to divorced and remarried persons as they are to all of us who fail to live up to godly standards. Certainly we are to uphold the Lord’s standards for marriage and strive to live up to them.At the same time, those of us who know we are poor in spirit can reach out in love,compassion, and acceptance to believers who have suffered divorce.
Matthew 5:33-3433 “Again, you have heard that it was said to our ancestors, You must not break youroath, but you must keep your oaths to the Lord. 34 But I tell you, don’t take an oath atall:” Matthew 5:33-34 Jesus’ audience often had heard the law about keeping oaths. Scribes and Pharisees were well aware of the traditions that defined in wearisome detail what forms of oaths could or could not be broken (see vv. 34b-36; also 23:16-22).Jesus brushed all that nonsense aside by admonishing, “Don’t take an oath at all”(5:34a). (No, this does not prohibit oaths taken in courts of law.)Jesus stressed the spirit of this law, namely, always tell the truth.We are followers of Him who identified Himself as “the truth” (John 14:6).When we are known for consistently telling the truth, we demonstrate genuine faith inHim.In addition, people believe us without any sort of “may God strike me down”assurances of our honesty.Misleading statements or claims demolish credibility, undermine respect, destroy trust,and negate a Christian witness.We should determine always to represent Christ by speaking the truth in love and byrefusing to misrepresent the truth in any way at all.Matthew 5:38-3938“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 39 But Itell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your rightcheek, turn the other to him also.” Matthew 5:38-39“An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is as familiar a command to us as to Jesus’hearers (v. 38).
This law was intended as a guide for judges to use in legal settlements,not as a license for measured personal revenge (see Ex. 21:22-25; Lev. 19:18).Jesus’ telling His followers not to resist an evil doer (Matt. 5:39) did not mean to permitmean and lawless people to run wild in our communities.He again was dealing with personal relationships, insisting that the spirit of this lawteaches to exercise grace rather than retaliation.When we argue with this and raise possible exceptions, we fall into the Pharisees’methodology.Instead, let’s hold fast the principle of non-retaliation, exemplified by Jesus as He wasvilified, tortured, and crucified.Let’s trust the Spirit to reveal how we are to apply this principle in particular situations.All vengeance belongs to the Lord, not to us (Rom. 12:19).Matthew 5:43-4443 “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 ButI tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Matthew 5:43-44Jesus’ final example of common teachings is, “Love your neighbor and hate yourenemy,” although an explicit command to hate one’s enemy is not in the OT.This is not the fuzzy-warm-feelings kind of love, but rather the selfless, sacrificial lovethat seeks the best for others.Scribes and Pharisees endorsed the popular understanding that loving one’s neighbormeant fellow Jews, not Gentiles, and especially not enemies.
They narrowed the scope of love, but Jesus broadened it to include even one’senemies (v. 44).He knew believers would experience painful and deadly persecution, but to hate thepersecutors or other enemies would grossly misrepresent Christ to the world.To pray for those who persecute us, as Jesus did on the cross, demonstrates we are“sons of your Father in Heaven” (vv. 44-45).All six of Jesus’ examples lead us to look for and to keep not only the letter ofcommands but also the principles they embody.They are not so much a list of rules to follow as they are examples that illustrate thatwe are to be righteous in every area of life—righteous as a matter of heart, not mereexternal obedience.Keep in mind what the Lord expects of us.Don’t be misled by religious traditions or sidetracked by those who dilute Hisrequirements.While recognizing those requirements are demanding, we should renew ourcommitment to trust the Lord to guide and enable us more and more to live up to Hisexpectations.The one who hurls insults is as guilty as the one who murders?The one who lusts has committed adultery in his heart?Ouch!If Jesus were to preach in your church the next time the pastor is out and deliver thissermon, what superficial obedience might He step on your toes with? Biblical Truths of This Lesson in Focus • All Scripture points to Jesus, Who fulfills it. • Study both Old and New Testaments to discern God’s expectations. • Truly righteous actions are rooted in heartfelt devotion to God. • Discern the principles behind God’s commands; apply them as broadly as possible. • Practice mercy rather than murder, faithfulness to spouses in thought and deed, and marriage building rather than marriage breaking. • Be known for truthfulness rather than deception, forgiveness rather than retaliation, and love rather than hate.
Jesus’ expectation and standards obviously are exceedingly high.Ask Him to help you live by the spirit of His standards, not the letter only.Next week: Matthew 6 RIGHT MOTIVES