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.

     Jesus was speaking to the crowds of people who where following Him around as He began His ministry of preaching and healing.  Barnes’ notes state: “Our Saviour was just entering on his work. It was important for him to state what he came to do. By his setting up to be a teacher in opposition to the scribes and Pharisees, some might charge him with an intention to destroy their law, and to abolish the customs of the nation. He therefore told them that he did not come for that end, but really to fulfill or accomplish what was in the law and the prophets.”

     Jesus continues and reviews the ‘big ticket’ commandments.  I’ll just go over three of them.  Regarding murder, He says; “You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry<sup class="crossreference" value="(AC)”> with a brother or sister will be subject to judgement. . . . anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’is answerable to the court.<sup class="crossreference" value="(AE)”> And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Matthew 5:21,22)  Have you ever been really  angry with someone close to you?  Maybe you still are.  The world says you have a ‘right’ to get angry as long as you express your anger properly.

     Regarding adultery; “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  (Matthew 5:27,28)  Have you ever looked at someone else in that way?   Perhaps you have a ‘wandering’ eye?  The world says it’s ok ‘to look but don’t touch’.

     Regarding divorce; “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31,32)  I know lots of Christians who are divorced and remarried.   We live in a messy fallen world and no one is clean.  I can’t judge someone to be less of a Christian than I am because they are divorced.

     Jesus says; “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.”  But when we look at his standard of righteousness who among us can say with any kind of honesty that we measure up?  There is no way any human being can achieve this kind of righteousness by their own strength and merit.  Unless we are complete hypocrites we have to say we are doomed, doomed, doomed!
 
     The Gospel news for a doomed person like me is; “For God so loved<sup class="crossreference" value="(A)”> the world that he gave<sup class="crossreference" value="(B)”> his one and only Son,<sup class="crossreference" value="(C)”> that whoever believes<sup class="crossreference" value="(D)”> in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16)  Jesus is our only hope.  Only He can save us from certain failure and doom.  This is why the Pharisees and the world hated Him.  This is why modern day Pharisees and the world hates Him.  The world and its religion  says we can do it on our own. 
 
     Jesus confronted the Pharisees on this many times.  When the Pharisees accused Jesus’ disciples of eating with unclean hands thereby breaking the law Jesus said; “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’  But you say<sup class="crossreference" value="(K)”> that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)—  then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God<sup class="crossreference" value="(L)”> by your tradition<sup class="crossreference" value="(M)”>  that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”  (Mark 7:9-13)
 
     Modern day Pharisees nullify the word of God in two ways depending on whether they are conservative or liberal.  If they are conservative they condemn people to hell because of sin quite forgetting that they are sinners too.  Jesus said; “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder,  adultery, greed,<sup class="crossreference" value="(Q)”> malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (Mark 7:21-23)  They forget the Gospel; “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  (Matthew 9:13)
 
     There are modern day liberal Pharisees too.  They minimise some sins and say that some of the Law has passed away because it belongs to a by gone day of sheep herders and nomads.  This is nullifying the word of God too; “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”  (Isaiah 5:20)  They ignore that God will  only save us if we believe in all what Jesus says.  And Jesus says ‘sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed,<sup class="crossreference" value="(Q)”> malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly’ defile us and block us from the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus is all about love.  Jesus is all about obedience too;  “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (John 14:23)
 
     Matthew Henry sums the entire matter up;  “Let none suppose that Christ allows his people to trifle with any commands of God’s holy law. No sinner partakes of Christ’s justifying righteousness, till he repents of his evil deeds. The mercy revealed in the gospel leads the believer to still deeper self-abhorrence. The law is the Christian’s rule of duty, and he delights therein. If a man, pretending to be Christ’s disciple, encourages himself in any allowed disobedience to the holy law of God, or teaches others to do the same, whatever his station or reputation among men may be, he can be no true disciple. Christ’s righteousness, imputed to us by faith alone, is needed by every one that enters the kingdom of grace or of glory; but the new creation of the heart to holiness, produces a thorough change in a man’s temper and conduct.”

     I’ve noticed that when we try to claim our own self-righteousness we either become hypocrites like the conservative Pharisees – claiming that we don’t need Jesus because we do no wrong.  Or we minimise some sins especially those the world approves of and say Jesus is all about love and ignore His full testimony about Himself and become ‘pretenders’ like  the liberal Pharisees.  An honest sinner convicted of his guilt simply cries out like Paul did; “ What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  (Romans 7:24,25)

     Thank you Jesus!

     Praise the Lord!

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