Sermon Notes: Matthew 5:17-20

Good morning TRC and Friends! Here is the updated sermon notes with the live stream attached.

CORRECTION: I realized later in the day as I was thinking on the sermon and evaluating myself that while I was on Ezekiel and referenced Jesus preaching to Nicodemas, I said “water and blood” and not “water and Spirit”. My thoughts were on Peter’s saying “these three testify” and I flubbed that up. I hope that didn’t distract from your worship. That’s why I manuscript and when I get off my manuscript, I can mess up. Sorry about that.

So, here are the NOTES:

The Big Idea of Christian Discipleship

Matthew 5:17-20 gives us Jesus’ “big idea” for the Sermon on the Mount, and it goes like this: Unless our righteousness goes deeper than surface adherence to a law, we are not Christians. 

For the rest of chapter 5, Jesus is going to illustrate this big idea with examples from the Law: Murder (v. 21-26); Adultery (v. 27-30); Divorce (v. 31-32); Oaths (v. 33-37); Retaliation (v. 38-42); Love of enemy (v. 43-48).

The Pharisees and religious leaders emphasize an external adherence to the Law. 

Jesus is going to take us to the heart, where external actions originate, and that will in turn produce real obedience. 

With these four today verses, Jesus is going to do, perhaps, the most radical thing he does. Jesus is going to authoritatively change how the Old Testament is to be read and understood because of who he is. 

Based on what Jesus says here, he is either truly God and should be worshiped and obeyed or he’s delusional. If you are legitimately checking Jesus out, today would be a good day to see if you think he’s worth following. 

Let’s hear his words.

READ IT: Matthew 5:17-20

Let’s jump right in!

  1. Jesus proclaims himself to be who the whole Old Testament is about and himself fulfills what has been written. 5:17
    1. Moses and the prophets spoke in the name of God to the people. 
      1. “This is what God says…”
    2. Here Jesus speaks in his own name as the authority who fulfills what Moses and the prophets spoke about and as the one who told Moses and the prophets what to say. 
      1. “You have heard it said, but I tell you…”
      2. This is what Matthew means when he says Matthew 7:28-29:
        1. Matthew 7:28-29 (CSB) 28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 because he was teaching them like one who had authority, and not like their scribes. 
        2. Not only is there “something” about Jesus’ presence (I mean, God himself is in the flesh present with them), he claimed he brought the authoritative meaning to their Scriptures.
      3. Please let this sink in. It’s emotional. It’s a good kind of heavy. It’s powerful. 
        1. I mean, when non-Christians like Jordan Peterson do series on the Bible because they are amazed at how a bunch of unrelated books authored over centuries got pieced together into a cohesive narrative, you have to marvel at the book if you have not already done so. 
          1. Stuff like that just does not happen. 
          2. Jesus is telling us that he’s that reason. He is telling us he is the reason the Bible is a cohesive narrative. He’s the one that the book is about and the one that binds it all together. 
            1. He’s either God or nuts. 
    3. Jesus establishes himself as the interpretive framework for the Old Testament.
      1. Matthew 5:17-20 is as powerfully stark and refreshing as Luke 24.
      2. Luke 24:44-47 (CSB) 44 He told them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. 46 He also said to them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead the third day, 47 and repentance for forgiveness of sins will be proclaimed in his name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
    4. Let me give you a quick summary of my Old Testament class introduction that helped my students understand how to read the Old Testament. 
      1. All Scripture predicts Jesus’ person and works. 
      2. All Scripture prepares for Jesus’ person and works. 
      3. All Scripture reflects Jesus’ person and works. 
      4. All Scripture results from Jesus’ person and works. (These are adapted from Bryan Chappell’s book on preaching the OT.)
  1. Jesus teaches the absolute authority of all the Scriptures right down to the smallest component of individual letters. 5:18
    1. With Jesus’ coming, living, dying, rising, and ascending, all of God’s promises in the Old Testament were kept. 
      1. It has been accomplished, the Lord would say on the cross as he died. 
      2. He could snap his divine fingers and save every last one of the elect on the planet, split the sky open, and return and fully bring the kingdom. 
    2. Jesus, being the God of the Old Testament, sent us to complete the task he gave Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 as children of Abraham, and therefore, until that task is done and the full kingdom comes, his word, the Bible, is our “manual”.  
      1. NOTE: Since all of God’s word has been accomplished, Jesus could finish the task we are working on and return at any moment. 
      2. And, until then, all of God’s word will endure until that final task of reaching the final people is done. 
      3. Application:
        1. John 17:17 (CSB) 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
          1. Truth: Noun, not an adjective. God’s word is what defines what is true. 
          2. Truth here as a noun means that Scripture does not give us data to interpret or contain some true things; it is itself the interpretation of reality.
            1. The very nature of the Bible is TRUTH. 
            2. This is why the Bible is the Manual on what is true. 
              1. It tells us who God is. 
              2. It tells us what creation is. 
              3. It tells us who mankind is. 
              4. It tells us what sin is. 
              5. It tells us how to be saved from sin. 
        2. Read it. 
        3. Believe it.
        4. Incorporate it as the ruling framework from which all of life is to be evaluated. 
          1. Don’t look for observations from creation in the Bible in order to believe them. 
          2. When the Bible is your frame of reference, you can correctly interpret the creation and take the good from it and incorporate it to make life better and assist in the work of the gospel of the kingdom.
        5. Let it read you so you can hear and obey God. 
          1. Hebrews 4:12 (CSB) 12 For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
        6. Don’t neglect it and prove foolish. 
          1. I listen to spiritual conversations about the faith almost daily from folks who call themselves Christian and they espouse values and tactics contrary to God’s word. 
          2. I’m thinking usually, there’s actually a whole chapter on that in the Bible!
            1. We can’t afford to not know it. 
  2. Obey then instruct, and make sure to get it right. 5:19
    1. Pay attention to how Jesus orders importance NOT some obscure hierarchy of least and greater. 
    2. Jesus is not offering insight on a hierarchy of leadership in order to provide a competitive race for his people to jockey for later. 
      1. Remember Jesus’ audience: all his disciples who have come up the mountain from the crowds. He is addressing all of those gathered around him. 
        1. Jesus assumes they are readers of the Scriptures. 
        2. So, he instructs them that their first task is to obey what they read before they teach. 
        3. There is a word play here with “abolish” in verse 17 and “breaks” here in verse 19. 
          1. To not do it is to break/abolish it. So, their first task before becoming a teacher is to practice what the text says in obedience. 
            1. Every word of God is true and worthy of the reader obeying it. 
          2. Therefore, those who know and don’t obey will find some degree of lesser status in the future kingdom. 
            1. This is future tense, and the idea is that there is less reward for hearing and failing to obey, thus teaching others by example to hear and not obey. 
          3. Those who know and obey, find a degree of greater reward in the future kingdom. 
          4. The implications here are palpable and a warning for would-be teachers of the Bible. 
            1. We had better major on obeying the Bible before we crack it open to teach it. 
  3. God’s standard of righteousness is deeper than external adherence. 5:20
    1. The Pharisee’s standard of righteousness was the external obedience to the letter of the law. What people could see. 
    2. The standard Jesus is talking about is what he told Ezekiel before he came to provide the means of his own blood to make the promise possible:
      1. Ezekiel 36:24-27 (CSB) 24 “‘For I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25 I will also sprinkle clean water on you (this is where Jesus preaches to Nicodemus from when he tells him he has to be born of the water and the flesh), and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances.
        1. The Pharisee’s standard is birthed from an evil heart that thinks it can earn favor with God and in doing so earn the praise of people for looking like spiritual giants. 
        2. Jesus’ standard is a gift that springs up from a new heart that is not content with the external adherence but is concerned with the internal causes that are the root of either righteousness or sin. 
        3. The Pharisee’s standard will not earn what it sets out to earn. It is an empty effort. 
        4. Jesus’ standard is a free gift of grace that starts in the supernatural gift of a new heart and the new heart’s desire that works its way to the outside.
          1. Jesus’ standard does not overlook the external fruit of right deeds. 
          2. Jesus’ standard provides the internal nuclear reaction of a new heart to make the inside produce an outside that honors God. 
          3. The only way to get what Jesus is talking about is through faith. 
            1. Faith = repentance and trust
            2. The Pharisees were trying to earn it, and the humble sinners came to Jesus to receive it as a gift. 
    3. Application:
      1. This is what we are here for. This and only this. God’s glory among the nations from right here in Rome, GA by being and producing radical followers of Jesus who have new hearts and produce the external fruit of pursuing Jesus’ fame among the nations. 
        1. Somehow church becomes about numerical growth, goods and services provided, and a product to consume. 
        2. Please stop looking at ministries and services to be had and likes and dislikes and numbers and lack or abundance. 
        3. Get after preaching this most amazing good news to those who need to hear it, and welcoming those who receive it into the faith and then into the church through baptism. 
          1. The Bible is notoriously silent about “ministries” in the local church. 
          2. It is super concerned about the local church preaching the gospel, baptizing new believers in the membership in the local church, and seeing that the church is obeying God’s word. 
          3. If we are not doing this, no ministry matters a hill of beans. It’s worthless. It’s just ingenuity and progress and success with a Christian t-shirt pulled over it to conceal its nature as an idol in the place of doing the main and prescribed thing. 
          4. What I love about TRC right now is that we are fewer people who want to do their own thing and receive goods and ministry services, and we are more people who are concerned with their friends and families meeting the resurrected Jesus, being transformed, reaching our city, and giving their lives and financial resources away to something that matters. 
            1. Example: One of my favorite moments from India was coming out of this Muslim man’s home after a gospel conversation and his persistence in unbelief and his defense of his faith and seeing Nathan with tears in his eyes from that encounter. 
            2. When is the last time we were emotionally moved over the lostness of our city, our neighborhood, or our neighbor rather than being bothered that Sunday mornings or ministry offerings are not what we might like them to be?
  4. Conclusion: Come to Jesus and live!
    1. If you are trying to produce righteousness to no avail, stop.
    2. Receive it by faith. 
    3. If you are in the faith, double down on God’s word in hearing it and obeying. 
  5. Corporate Prayer: Ezekiel 36:37-38

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