Sunday, May 13, 2007



Matthew 5:21ff

Remember, this entire seminar Jesus is giving is answering, "Jesus, how do your teachings differ from what we've been taught?" Throughout the rest of this 5th chapter Jesus is going to compare His teachings with what they've been taught by the use of the Mosaic Law. I call this section the PRECEPTS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. This is where Jesus actually moves through 6 specific teachings taught by the scribes and Pharisees and then gives His teaching on each one. Each teaching is from the Law which Jesus says He will not abolish, but will fulfill. Each time He prefaces the teaching with something like "You have heard it said, but I say to you." In each case the difference is very clear and deeply convicting.

What's most important to understand with these 6 illustrations is that Jesus is setting forth three primary ways their teachers have misapplied the Law.

NOW, think of the 6 illustrations as three pairs. NOTE what the theme or basic teaching of each pair is. It seems that each pair does have a certain theme and maybe the most important factor in Jesus' choosing of these 6 to illustrate how His teachings are so different. In order for Kingdom Righteousness to go beyond that of the Pharisees and teachers of the law, these themes must be practiced:

FIRST-Jesus refers to THE INTERNAL APPLICATION OF THE LAW-Kingdom Righteousness is an inside job. The external expression of righteousness always has a more important inner dimension. Just because you are keeping the external form doesn't mean that you are righteous according to the Kingdom lifestyle.

Jesus illustrates this with the teaching about murder. Jesus takes murder deeper into the heart to its source-anger. Then, again, Jesus takes their teachings on adultery. He goes much deeper than adultery to its source of lust. If you're going to apply the teachings of the Law, you must begin at the deepest, internal level.

SECOND-Jesus refers to THE PROPER EMPHASIS OF THE LAW-Kingdom Righteousness is not just getting your paperwork done. That's the wrong emphasis. So, Jesus uses the practice of divorce and making vows to illustrate this wrong emphasis. The practice of the day was emphasizing the wrong things. The marriage covenant is very serious and your word is your bond. So, instead of placing emphasis upon whether or not you divorce or whether or not your vows are proper or effective, emphasize your personal covenant and your personal word.

THIRD-Jesus refers to THE ULTIMATE FULFILLMENT OF THE LAW-Kingdom Righteousness is a lifestyle that moves to the beat of a different drummer than the rest of the world. It's the lifestyle that revolves around the one and only, Jesus. To be Jesus to the world around us demands a radical stance of perfect and complete love. Jesus chooses to illustrate what an ultimate fulfillment of the Law might look like. He uses the practice of retaliation and loving your enemies.

Over the next few days we will discuss each of these illustrations. I want to unpack them in such a way that we can embrace the bottom-line of what Jesus' teachings are.

Basically religious systems have always focused on the externals over the internals, overemphasized a few distinctions and fall far short of the ultimate standard Jesus sets for living life to its fullest. Again, we are left with the understanding that religion is the best that man can do; a relationship with God is the best that God can do. In the beginning in the Garden of Eden there was no religion of man, no worship and no prescribed set of do's and don'ts in order to be approved. There was only relationship. And, that is what Jesus came to re-establish with you and me. It's a relationship with the Creator-God-a relationship where you feel safe, significant and secure. So, this is Jesus' intent concerning you. All He is looking for is your willingness to hang out with Him. So, what do you think? It's your move.