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Matthew 5:17-20

The B-I-B-L-E

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Weekend Messages
  • May 27, 2018

In Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus declared His view of the Law and the Prophets along with His relationship to it. In addition, Jesus summarized the relationship His true disciples should have with the Law and the Prophets, as citizens of the kingdom of heaven. Let’s discover the nature of both relationships so that we may properly live by the B-I-B-L-E!

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

The B-I-B-L-E

Matthew 5:17-20


ILLUS – Teaching Malina the “Rules of the Road”

1. God has given us His inspired, inerrant Word, the Bible, so that we may know His “Rules for Life”.

2. In Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus declared His view of the Law and the Prophets along with His relationship to it.

3. In addition, Jesus summarized the relationship His true disciples should have with the Law and the Prophets, as citizens of the kingdom of heaven.

4. Let’s discover the nature of both relationships so that we may properly live by the B-I-B-L-E!

Matthew 5:17-20


1. In Matthew 5:1-12, Jesus told those who had gathered around Him what it means to be His disciple, the characteristics He expects to see from His followers.

2. These are “beautiful attitudes”, attitudes which are the result of God’s work in the heart of each person who has surrendered their will, declared their allegiance, and have placed their faith in His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

3. God’s blessing rests upon each person who embodies what Jesus taught in these verses.

4. Jesus then gave two word pictures to spell out the impact a person would have on those around them as “salt” and “light” in our fallen world (13-16).

5. What Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount was radical and caused some to call into question His view of the Law and the Prophets.

6. Anticipating their response, Jesus confronted their questions and ultimately declared that His teaching was the way God had always intended it to be.

I. Jesus Came to Fulfill the Law and Prophets

A. This was Jesus’ mission

1. “Do not think” means do not “suppose”, “presume”, “assume”, or “imagine”.

a. Translation – “Don’t go there!”

b. Jesus warned against entertaining the thought the He came to abolish the Law.

2. The word “fulfill” means “to complete” or to “bring to its destined end”.

a. This means that Jesus would bring into being (reality) all that God commanded or promised.

b. It also means that Jesus not only completed the Law, He transcends it!

3. Please also note the scope of Jesus’ mission.

a. There are 248 commands and 365 prohibitions for a total of 613 commandments in the Law. Jesus came to perfectly fulfill all of it.

b. There are hundreds of Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament. Jesus fulfilled over 350 of them during His First Advent.  

4. How did Jesus fulfill the Law and the Prophets?

a. Jesus perfectly kept the Law by living a perfect, sinless life.

2 Corinthians 5:17, He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

b. Jesus’ death fulfilled prophecy when He died on the cross for our sin.

Isaiah 53:5-6, But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.

ILLUS – Pastor Rich questions a rabbi about Isaiah 53

c. Jesus fulfilled prophecy when He was resurrected from the dead.

Psalm 16:10, For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.

APPL – The entire Old Testament points forward to Jesus and what He would accomplish through His life and ministry.

  • The sacrifices, feasts, priesthood, stories, and typologies all point to Jesus.
  • Jesus not only fulfilled them, He is superior to them.

Hebrews 8:6-7, But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.

B. Jesus will fulfill every detail as God intended

1. “For truly I say to you” was a formula used only by Jesus, not by other teachers (18).

a. Matthew recorded this formula 31 times in his Gospel. It’s used here for the first time.

b. It is similar to when a prophet would say, “Thus says the LORD”.

c. This would alert the listener to pay attention because what follows was of great importance.

2. “Yod” is the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet. It’s like the “dot” on the letter “i”.

3. The smallest stroke (“tittle”) is like the addition of an angled line to the letter “P”, which would change it to “R”.

4. The smallest letter or stroke is important because even a small change can change the meaning of a word.

5. Jesus declared that even the smallest detail of God’s Word will be fulfilled because if one word failed, God would be proved a liar, unable to keep His promises.

Numbers 23:19, God is not man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

ILLUS – Malina challenges me about chocolate…

6. Heaven and earth will pass away but not until all of God’s Word is accomplished.

7. When will Jesus fulfill the Law? He already did when He died on the cross at Calvary.

John 19:30, When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.

8. What does Jesus’ death mean for a person who wants to be His disciple? It means the requirements of the Law that Jesus perfectly kept, are now applied to that person’s life who has placed their faith in Him, so it is as if they kept the Law.

Romans 8:3-4, For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Romans 10:4, For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

9. When will the remaining Messianic prophecies be fulfilled? When Jesus returns.

Revelation 22:12, Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.

APPL – Therefore, Jesus did not oppose the Law, rather He opposed all illegitimate interpretations of the Law that stressed regulation more than heart transformation. 

II. Be a Great Disciple of Jesus Christ

A. A great disciple keeps God’s Word

ILLUS – The question my mentor would always ask me when I had a question…

1. Back in the day, the Jewish teachers actually listed the least and greatest commandments.

a. The greatest commandment

Deuteronomy 6:5, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

b. The least commandment

Deuteronomy 22:6-7, If you happen to come upon a bird’s nest along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young;you shall certainly let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, in order that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days.

c. The Jews thought that keeping both commandments merited the same reward, eternal life! 

2. The word “annul” means to “relax”, “set aside”, or “teach against”.

3. Jesus declared that a “great disciple” in the kingdom of heaven will keep even the least of the commandments and teach others to do likewise because God is the One who gave the command. Conversely, the person who sets aside the commands and teaches others to do the same would be called the “least”.

a. Jesus was not talking about salvation or the loss of it because He said the “great” and the “least” are in the kingdom of heaven.

b. Rather, He was talking about the disciple’s standing or status in the kingdom of heaven, similar to Paul stating that Christians will receive rewards in heaven.

1 Corinthians 3:12-15, Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

APPL – You might be wondering, “I thought Christians are not under the Law because Christ fulfilled the Law.” Are you saying that Christians are still under the Law of Moses?

B. Jesus Christ requires a deeper righteousness

1. The scribes were professional students and teachers of the Law.

2. The Pharisees were devoted to the scrupulous observance of both the Old Testament Law and to developing traditions.

3. It was commonly believed that the scribes and Pharisees were the standard of holiness in that day. If anyone could or should enter the kingdom of heaven, it was them.

4. Then Jesus arrived on the scene and declared that the “righteousness” of the scribes and Pharisees was not good enough. Why?

a. God looks at the heart.

1 Samuel 16:7, God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

b. What did God see in the hearts of the scribes and Pharisees?

Matthew 23:27-28, Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

5. What was Jesus’ goal in verse 20? To use the Law as God intended.

a. The Law declares that if we break one command, we are guilty of breaking it all.

James 2:10, For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.

b. When the Law is properly used it reveals our need for a Savior; that our works will not justify us before God, only faith does.

Galatians 3:24, Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.

c. Jesus did for us what the Law could never do, make us righteous before God.

Romans 3:21-22, But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe…

APPL – External righteousness is not true righteousness. God wants a deeper righteousness!

  • The kind of righteousness that comes when a person is poor in spirit because they know they don’t deserve God’s grace but His wrath.
  • The kind of righteousness that results in a changed heart because they have placed their faith in Jesus Christ and are called sons of God!
  • That person is no longer governed by an external Law because God writes His law on their hearts.

Jeremiah 31:31, 33-34, “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,… I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

  • God also places His Spirit within them so that they are empowered and motivated to walk in His ways.

Ezekiel 36:26-27, Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

  • How do we know we are walking in God’s ways? By keeping the Sabbath, or observing feasts, rules, and regulations? No!

Colossians 2:16-17, 23, Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

Matthew 5:17-20            NASB

17 "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 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. 19 Whoever 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.
20 "For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

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