Greatness through Keeping & Teaching – Matthew 5:17-20

April 6, 2008

INTRODUCTION – review of our theme & Matthew series
Ch. 5 Vs. 13-16 tells us two things that was true of the disciples and followers of Jesus then, and is true of many of us today.

1. we followers or disciples of Jesus have an amazing calling and strategic role in the plans and purposes of God on the earth. (e.g. salt and light)

2. we tend to not rise to our calling; we tend to think less of our importance than we should. We tend to minimize our role and contribution. (e.g. tasteless salt; and hidden light)

So the question we ought to be asking after reading this passage: How can I achieve the full potential of my calling to be salt and light in the earth?? How can I achieve the kingdom greatness Jesus has called me to? 2 pronged answer from the following passage.

The first prong
I. By keeping or obeying the word of God (esp. the Old Test.) (read vs. 17-20)
You gotta be kidding! I thought Jesus freed us from having to mess with the old testament and the law.

A. Common feelings about the Old Testament
To some it seems burdensome, restraining, and restrictive. Others have concluded it is ludicrous, and to be ignored.

“God, so atrocious in the Old Testament, so attractive in the New – the Jekyll and Hyde of sacred romance” Mark Twain quotes (American Humorist, Writer and Lecturer. 1835-1910)

“Computers are like Old Testament gods; lots of rules and no mercy.” Joseph Campbell quotes (American prolific Author, Editor, Philosopher and Teacher, 1904-1987)

“The Old Testament is responsible for more atheism, agnosticism, disbelief-call it what you will-than any book ever written; it has emptied more churches than all the counterattractions of cinema, motor bicycle and golf course.” A. A. Milne quotes (English Humorist, creator of Winnie-the-Pooh, 1882-1956)

Most of us would not say such things because we have met the author of the book, and experienced Him in our lives. But based on the amount of effort we put in on a daily or weekly basis to read and meditate on the Old Testament scriptures… one must wonder what deep down we really feel about the Old Testament.

A. Jesus’s example – or attitude towards the Old Testament – even the law Psalm 40:7,8 prophetic portrait – “Then I said, “Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God Your Law is within my heart ;” Jesus’s passion was to do the will of His Father – – to enable himself to do that – He treasured God’s law in His heart.

When Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God;” He was speaking out of His own experience in those 40 days meditating upon at least the book of Deuteronomy. We know that because His three responses to Satan’s temptations are all quotes from Deuteronomy.

I want to submit to you that when Jesus said in
John 5:19,20 “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel.”

I think it is very possible that the Father showed Jesus some of these things as He was meditating upon the Old Testament scriptures.
I have always looked at this like Jesus was walking down the road and the Father just whispered in His ear…

Did it ever occur to you that when the angel told Mary, the mother of Jesus that her Son would be great, that He would achieve that greatness – being totally man, by meditating day and night in the old testament scriptures?

B. Jesus’s Statements – – The truth about the law and the prophets(vs. 17,18)
Evidently there must have been an underlying expectation with some of the Jews that Jesus would totally do away with the law

Vs. 17 – Phrase shows up 8 x’s in N.T. = whole old testament

Fulfill & accomplish = not just static rules to obey; but a God that is to be revealed, and purposes and intentions that are to be fulfilled

Vs. 18 – “For truly….” = emphasis
“smallest letter or stroke”

The Old Testaments is Not a book of rules and regulations; rather a book of revelation about the person of God and His plans and purposes for the universe He has created.

But one’s attitude towards the law is a reflection of their relationship or lack of with the lawgiver.

David in Psalm 19:7-11

Acts 20:32 “word of His grace” what scriptures did they have then?
John “the one whom Jesus loved” said I John 5:3

C. We are called to keep it (vs. 19)
The warning: “annuls” is a verb often used by the scribes and pharisees to denote something they determined could be omitted or not practiced in the law – – it has the idea of loosing a requirement

By the way the scribes were the so called Jewish scholars who worked out all these extra rules and regulations from their interpretation of the Old Testament scriptures; The Pharisees were the religious leaders who devoted their lives to practicing all those extra rules and regulations; and were quick to note any error among their countrymen

The promise:

Please note the order; doing or practicing always must precede teaching – Ezra’s ex. – Ezra 7:10, “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statues and ordinances in Israel.”

Great damage is done in the body of Christ when we become more passionate for teaching others and setting them straight, than we are our own growth

II. Greatness through teaching the word of God
A. It is not enough just to practice

B. All are called to teach – Matt. 28:19,20
Why teaching so important?
1. Because it is only the truth that sets us free – the battle is in our minds

2. Because growing up – we all learn lots of fluff – “God helps those who help themselves”

3. Because we all have blind spots that we just can’t see on our own

C. But not all behind a pulpit – more as a lifestyle – Deut. 6:

CONCLUSION – God has called you to greatness in His kingdom. He has called you to be a change agent in this decaying society He has placed us in. For you and I to be able to achieve that greatness we must first learn to see the Old Testament like Jesus did and does.
Then we must have a passion to obey and keep it and believe it
Then we must have a passion to teach it to others.

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