Jesus: Fulfillment of the Law ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

 

Liturgical colour: Green.

 

Reading 1:SIR 15:15-20

Responsorial Psalm:PS 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34

Reading 2:1 COR 2:6-10

Gospel: MT 5:17-37 OR 5:20-22A, 27-28, 33-34A, 37

 

Let’s first look at what the Gospel is telling us today:

Jesus said to his disciples:  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.  I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.  Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,  not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter  will pass from the law,  until all things have taken place.  Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments  and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.  But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgement. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement;  and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.  Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.  Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.

 

“You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.  “It was also said,  Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.  But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife –  unless the marriage is unlawful –  causes her to commit adultery,  and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

“Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors, Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow.  But I say to you, do not swear at all;  not by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.  Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black.  Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’  Anything more is from the evil one.”  (MT 5:17-37)

Though the Sermon on the Mount was in the beginning of Jesus’ ministry on earth, He had already begun His ministry earlier on. Prior to this sermon He was tempted in the desert by Satan, baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist, healed many people, and had already preached to many crowds.

The people who were present at this sermon on the mount were His first disciples and I’m sure others who chose to follow Him.

This crowd was not shocked I’m sure that He was who He said He was (although some doubted), but they were shocked because it was a completely knew spin on His teaching.

Before He would preach His deity as well as the coming of the kingdom, but now He is saying He is the complete fulfillment of the law.

Our Lord Jesus fulfilled God’s law in every aspect of His life, let us take a look:

In His birth (Galatians 4:4)

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, In His teaching (Matthew 5:17)  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

Romans 10:4

Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Galatians 3:23–25 NIV

Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed.    So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.

Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

Galatians 3:13 NIV

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”

He set aside the Old Covenant and brought in the New Covenant

Simply put: Jesus did not destroy the law, He fulfilled it as was God’s plan all along. He ushered in God’s grace to save us from the demands and penalties of the law.

His disciples would not fully understand this until His death and resurrection was complete, when He said “it is finished”.

 

So, like Jesus, how can we fulfill God’s law in our lives:  Through the Holy Spirit By dying to the law to live by the Holy Spirit

Romans 7:4-6

By loving God and loving others

Romans 13:8-10

By living for God & allowing Christ to live in us

Galatians 3:19-21

 

We can seek to do and teach God’s Law:

 

The law can serve as a mirror to guide our lives

1 Timothy 1:8–11 The Message

It’s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say.

 

It’s obvious, isn’t it, that the law code isn’t primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life,

 

They are contemptuous of this great Message we have been put in charge of by this great God.

God’s Law shows the sin that keeps us from a relationship with Him.

But God’s law requires us to share the grace that comes through forgiveness.

God’s moral law has not changed.

9 of the 10 commandments were repeated and commanded in the NT

The “keeping of the Sabbath Day” was strictly given as a command to the people of Israel as a sign.

 

To summarize the law- we do not obey an external law because of fear, believers today obey this law because of love.

See when we focus on the law to slam people or shame and guilt them we often become no better than the Scribes or the Pharisees.

And when we continue to make ourselves a slave to the law and not fully give our hearts to the Lord, we become no better than the Scribes and Pharisees.

Not only that, if we can’t fulfill the whole law we still aren’t righteous according to it. It’s all or nothing if we judge by the law.

The Scribes and Pharisee’s failed to satisfy the heart and mind.

They were self righteous and glorified themselves, not God.

This was Jesus’ exact point. And that was Jesus’ exact warning to His followers on this hillside.

Matthew 11:28–30 NIV

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

 

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

 

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus wants to take our burdens. He wanted to take the burdens of the Scribes and Pharisees, too.

He came so we didn’t have to live as slaves to the law but free in Him.

Only Jesus offers that freedom.

Matthew 5:20 NIV

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

We can often get hung up on this verse ourselves and think we have fallen short of where we need to be.

 

But the good news is… Jesus came to save short people!

That’s me and it’s you.

So the question now is, “How do we know if we have the kind of righteousness that Jesus wants us to have?”

If we are judgmental, self seeking or prideful it’s probably a good time to turn over your heart to the Lord.

But Jesus does give us a clear answer but it won’t be quick.

This is what the whole sermon on the mount is.

Now that Jesus gets His audience’s attention, after shaking their religious beliefs to the core, he expands and over the next 27 verses defines God’s law- not on how people behave BUT in terms of who they really are. (5:21-48).

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