June 20th, 2007

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Jesus as one fulfilling the law. Matt. 5:17-20

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

This is a transitional statement. Jesus opened the Sermon on the Mount with how we are to be and to live in relationship with others. He warned that we would likely suffer some for this. And he called us to live as salt and light for the world. Now he will look at and affirm the law and the prophets by helping us see beyond the “letter” of the law and “embrace its spirit”.

We will see this in the paragraphs that continue in this chapter. He will address the important laws of Israel concerning murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, lex talionis, and treatment of enemies. (In the next chapter he will consider the spiritual disciplines of alms, prayer and fasting, as well as the need to depend upon the dependable God.)

Later, as we study the life of Jesus we will find in his treatment of the laws related to the Sabbath the way in which Jesus dealt with the law. He did not focus on the application of the core law to the issues of everyday life, but rather dealt with the purpose that God had in giving the law to begin with. His statement that the sabbath was created for the benefit of humankind, not humankind created for the benefit of the sabbath.

It should become abundantly clear to us that God is not satisfied with our “technical” righteousness. Rather, God wants us to be deeply righteous in how we see and respond to the challenges and opportunities of everyday life. (I hope that someday we will reflect upon the devisive issues of our day–ordination of women, literalism in biblical interpretation, divorce, the use of divorced persons as pastors or deacons, abortion, and war.) I will seek to do just this as I look at each of the examples of the law which Jesus cites.

Be sure to take note of the fact that Jesus is talking here about how we are to live in the emerging kingdom of heaven. We will next look at the six examples that Jesus gives as to how one can focus on the spirit of a law and thus be truly righteous.