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Sermon on the Mount The Fulfillment of the Law

Matthew 5:17-20

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. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the
smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until
everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and
teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever
practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 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. (5:17-20)
Jesus clarifies the purpose of the Law (the Ten Commandments and the law of Moses) and
in so doing explains His role in the fulfillment of the Law (Luke 24:44)
The Law was given by God directly to Moses to guide the children of Israel (Exodus 20:1-
20) as a lamp to their feet and a light to their paths (Psalm 119:105)
o The Law taught them about Gods nature and our response to Him (He is the one
true God and we are to serve Him only and honor Him (20:3-8), He is the giver of
life and life is precious to Him (20:13), the marriage relationship is sacred (2:14),
children are to honor their parents (20:12), we are to be satisfied with what we have
(20:15), not lie about others (20:16), and not covet what others have (20:17)
o In stating what God values and prohibits, the Law served to define good and evil
o The Law does not create good, it only serves to regulate good and restrain evil
o The Apostle Paul taught that the purpose of the law was to clarify the existence of
sin in our lives and to lead us to Christ (Romans 7, Galatians 3, Ephesians 2)
So Jesus did not come to abolish (render vain) the Law and Prophets, but to fulfill them
o Jesus fulfilled the Law by living in perfect obedience (Galatians 3:10)
He learned obedience through all He suffered (Hebrews 5:8)
He became obedient to death even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8)
o Jesus fulfilled the Law by reinterpreting the commandments, showing in depth the
meaning and the principle behind the commandments
You have heard it said, you shall not murder. . . but I say to that anyone
who is angry with his brother. . . (5:21-22 Gods concern for his children is
much deeper than overt behavior, but He cares about the attitude of the heart)
You have heard it said, you shall not commit adultery . . . but I say to you
that anyone who looks on a woman with lust in his heart. . . (5:27-28 again,
Gods concern goes beyond behavior but to the attitude of the heart)
o Jesus fulfilled the Law by taking on Himself the death penalty of our sin
The result of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life (Romans 6:23)
He who knew no sin became sin for our sakes. . . (II Corinthians 5:21)
o Jesus fulfilled the Law, through His victory over sin and death, to enable as many
as received Him (John1:12) to live in victorious obedience through the power of the
indwelling Holy Spirit to actually live in obedience to God (Romans 6 and 8)