Anger and Reconciliation

“You shall not murder.” Have you unlawfully shot, stabbed, or bludgeoned anyone to death? If not, can you say that you’ve kept this commandment? Listen to what Jesus says in Matthew 5:21–26.

Beware of anger! Listen to Jesus. His language is strong, contrasting what you heard and what he says. Is he doing away with a commandment here? No. that would contradict what he said about not abolishing but fulfilling the Law and the Prophets. His expansion on the sins of murder and adultery would be pointless if he were removing what God had commanded. Notice that Jesus does not use the way he sometimes introduces quotes from Scripture, “It is written.” Rather, he says, “You have heard.” Here, and in the other examples in this chapter, he quotes a commandment of God—and along with it the explanation or application made by rabbinic leaders, which sometimes limited or blunted what God said. In each case, instead of relaxing what God says, he sharpens it. He gets to the heart of the commandment and to the attitude behind it. His, “But I say” is an authoritative claim, see Matthew 7:28–29. He is telling you, as his disciples, what he, the Messianic King, expects of his subjects. How do you live in the new era which his coming has introduced? “The fulfillment of the law, like the fulfillment of the prophets, while presupposing and reaffirming its divine truth and authority, predicates the dawn of a new era. The law and the prophets do not produce their own fulfillment. It is the presence of Christ alone which accomplishes this end, and this fact, in the light of Matthew’s total witness to Christ, clearly involves new divine action and speech. The fulfillment of the law and the prophets represents not a mere repetition or reiteration of the old revelation, but the announcement of the appearance of the age to which the old age looked forward.” (pp. 197–198). “No hint is given of a relaxing of the authority of the law; on the contrary he indicates that the demands of God are more comprehensive and more exacting than men had supposed.” (p. 199). (Ned B. Stonehouse, The Witness of Matthew and Mark to Christ).

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Fulfilling the Law and the Prophets

How do you answer someone who says, “The 10 Commandments have nothing to do with the life of a Christian”? What does Jesus say about the Law in Matthew 5:17–20?

How important are the Law and the Prophets? Jesus does not abolish the Law. Jesus may have made this remark because he was accused of doing away with the Law. Later in this Gospel we see him reacting strongly against the additional burdens that the scribes and Pharisees had added to the Law. But, as we will see, what Jesus opposes is not the Law of God, but the human additions to it.

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Are You Blessed?

When is the last time you heard someone say he or she was blessed? When did you last use that word to describe yourself? In Matthew 5:1–12 Jesus uses the word repeatedly to describe those who make up his kingdom. He uses it to describe you.

You are blessed. Listen to your King. Matthew in chapter 4, told you that Jesus went throughout Galilee preaching the good news of the Kingdom. Now the apostle give you a sample of that preaching. The kingdom is present, because the King is there. He is speaking authoritatively. He goes up a mountain, not necessarily to the very top, and crowds gather to hear him. You have echos of God speaking from Mount Sinai. Then only Moses could ascend the mountain. This time the crowds can approach, because one greater than Moses is speaking. He is the perfect mediator. Don’t think of this as a contrast between Old Testament law and New Testament grace. God was gracious at Sinai, and Jesus in this sermon, challenges you to a whole-hearted obedience. God had told Israel that they were a kingdom of priests. Now Jesus, as the great King, instructs you in how to live in his kingdom. “When Jesus began to talk about the Kingdom, He first wanted to tell who its citizens were. . . . Grace, His favor that that forgives sin, reigns supreme in the Kingdom. The citizens of this Kingdom are those who submit in faith to His grace, who do not trust in their own wisdom or rely on their own virtues but are wholly dependent on the grace of God, accepting that grace and making no excuses for unbelief. People who live by God’s grace in such a way show that they take after their Father in heaven and resemble Him.” (S. G. De Graaf, Promise and Deliverance, Vol. 3, p. 50).

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