Series: Student Ministry: The Sermon on the Mount

I was chatting with a pastor friend one time about a Jewish teacher’s understanding of a certain text of the Old Testament. He laid down his answer as if it was the final word. My response sent him into a state of shock: “His understanding is not authoritative. He doesn’t even understand what the point of the Old Testament is.”

It may sound insensitive and harsh, but what is the main point of the Scriptures. The main point of the Scriptures is what Jewish people who reject Christ have actually rejected the main point of the Scriptures that they hold dear.

When I listen to art critics talk about the lighting and mood of a piece I’m pretty much lost. I don’t get it. If I were to guess what the point is then I think that I would look like a fool as I tried to guess. It reminds me of all the people on television that try to guess what God is like while on the air. They believe in a God…just not the one true God and their guesses just end up being foolish. There are 66 books in the Bible, and do you know who they are about? They are about Jesus.

So, there is this new preacher in the beginning of the Book of Matthew, and He is already causing a bit of a stir. The people are wondering if He is going to follow the path that has already been laid in the Old Testament or if He’s going to be a heretic and say that the Old Testament just needs to be set aside. Jesus is not going to set it aside. It’s about Him. And not only is the Old Testament about Him, Jesus declares that God’s Word will stand forever.

The Scriptures are about Jesus and they will stand forever.

Jesus Is The Fulfillment Of The Old Testament (Vv. 5:17-18)


Jesus is walking around, preaching and teaching. He is gaining a following and instead of casting aside the Word of God for something new He declares just the opposite. Don’t think for one moment that Jesus came to abolish, “The Law or the Prophets”. This was an idiom that meant “the Scriptures”. Jesus is here referencing everything from Genesis to Malachi, or what we call the Old Testament. He says that He didn’t come to get rid of them, but to fulfill them.

Put yourself in this situation. Jesus is teaching and preaching, He has already delivered the blessing of the New Covenant and discussed who His people are. They are the salt of the Earth and the Light of the World. People, as they are wondering whether Jesus will sever ties with the Old Testament are being told that He is going to fulfill everything in them and that God’s Word will not go away. Rather the entirety of it will be fulfilled.

A lot of people create for themselves a Jesus that doesn’t care about God’s Law. “God is love”, or “Jesus is love” will fly out of their mouths shortly after they say “love is love” in reference to an act that the Scriptures that Jesus says will never go away obviously call sin. People will justify, in their minds, any number of sinful activities by making Jesus something that He is not. People throughout our culture have created for themselves a “Jesus” who does not have the type of reverence for God’s Word that He has here. He cared greatly for God’s Word and rather than do away with it He fulfills it. We have to understand that God’s Law and its demands on us still stand…and they will forever.

Jesus isn’t a person who comes to us separated from the Jewish people or their history. He is the actual fulfillment of everything that they believed and did. He is the True Israel, the True Temple, the True Sacrifice, He completely keeps the whole Law, He is the Last Adam, He is the Prophet Greater Than Moses, He is the king from the lineage of David whose reign will never end. He is the fulfillment of God’s promise of redemption to Adam and the seed of Abraham through whom all nations will be blessed. Put another way, He is what the entirety of the Scriptures are about both in the Old and New Testament. The Old Testament looks forward to Jesus through promises, types, and shadows. The New Testament looks backward to Jesus and shows how He fulfilled the Old Testament and what that means for His people.

You see, Jesus came to accomplish a mission. This mission was not to create a new religion but to fulfill the promises made by the types and shadows of the Old Testament.

As you read your Bible, know and understand that the Old Testament and the New Testament are the Word of Christ. God made promises to His people throughout the Old Testament, even the sacrifices and the Temple were promises made in shadow form, of something greater to come. That something greater was Jesus.

Why do we not offer sacrifices in the Temple anymore? Jesus fulfilled that and is the perfect sacrifice for sin that the Temple Sacrifices only pictures. They were shadows and Jesus is the reality. Why do we not have to keep all of the 613 Laws of the Torah? Christ is the fulfillment of the Law. It didn’t simply pass away or get rejected. Jesus is its fulfillment. Why do we still not steal or commit adultery? Because God’s moral law still stands. Why do we still not make idols or make images of God? Because God’s moral law still stands.

Christianity is not a New Testament religion. It is the culmination and fulfillment of everything that God has been doing in Scripture since the beginning of the Book of Jesus. We must be people who reverence God’s Holy Word and understand that everything in Scripture, including the Old Testament, is about Him.


Jesus’ People Will Do What God Commands (Matthew 5:19-20)


The next portion of text is discussed in a multitude of different ways. I want to argue here that Jesus is discussing God’s Law. The reason for this is quite simple. He has been discussing how God’s Law will not pass away, it will be fulfilled. Why then would it make sense for us to say that Jesus is discussing a different law? I don’t believe that it would. Therefore, the next statement is about keeping God’s Law.

The idea is quite simple. The person who doesn’t do God’s commands is called least in the Kingdom of God. The person who teaches others to not keep God’s command is least in the Kingdom of God. The person who does God’s Word and teaches others to do God’s Word is “called great in the Kingdom of Heaven” (V. 19). We are to be people who keep God’s command and teach others to do likewise.

Then, in a transitionary phrase that has one foot in this message and one in next week’s message, He says that unless our “righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5:20 ESV)

This transitionary phrase would have been quite startling to the listeners. The Pharisees were the conservative teachers of their day. Most everyone looked at them as if they were the holy ones of their time period. But here, for the first time that we read it, they become the target of Jesus’s teachings. Jesus differentiates between the way that the Pharisees keep the Law and the way that His people will keep the Law.

The Law, not only will not go away, but God’s people will keep it.

The keeping will not, however, be in the hypocritical manner of the Pharisee whose works are outward in manner, but inwardly all they really care about is how others view them. It will be a real and genuine keeping of the Law. It is the type of keeping that the salt of the Earth and Light of the World will do. It is the type of keeping that the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and the persecuted will do. You see, the Pharisees kept the commands to the best of their abilities, yet inwardly they cared little for God’s Law. In fact, when no one was looking they likely broke God’s Laws. It was for the applause of all who would see them.

God’s people will, however, love and revere God’s Word in a way different than it was loved and revered by the Pharisees, for their love of God’s Word was outward only. It was for the applause of others and this will come up time and time again in Jesus’s ministry. And every time Jesus mentions this type of performance it is shown to be reprehensible. But, God’s people are changed people. They love, revere and keep God’s Law. This is not because they want other people to see them and praise them, but because they want others to see their good deeds and glorify God (Matthew 5:16).

The question that we should be asking ourselves now is this: Do you love God’s Word? Do you keep God’s Word more than the Pharisees did, that is both inwardly and outwardly? Do you even care about keeping God’s Word? The Pharisees cared about keeping God’s Word and it is not that we are supposed to look beyond this, but we are to keep it for the glory of God, not for our own selfish gain.

You see, God’s Law matters, The Old Testament, it matters even today. We need to consider whether or not we keep God’s Word, because Jesus’s people keep His Word.

There is also another thing here that we should consider. When He says that our righteousness must exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees it is quite shocking. We need to understand that believers will attempt to keep God’s Law, but they will fail. We will fail as we attempt to keep the commands of Christ. Jesus came to Earth and lived a perfect life, fulfilling all righteousness. He did everything that the Law required. He kept God’s Word for us. He kept the Law perfectly on your behalf and then died on a cross to pay the punishment for His people’s sins. If you have placed your faith in Christ, then you have a righteousness that is greater than the Pharisees, it is the righteousness of Christ.

If you have not trusted in Christ, won’t you do so? He is the fulfillment of all that the Scriptures teach. He has accomplished the great and glorious salvation that the Scriptures promised. Won’t you trust Him?


R. Dwain Minor