Is the Law inside you? (Mt 5:17-48)
Yesterday we finished discussing the heart attitude we must have to approach God. Please read the introduction to the Sermon on the Mount before reading this if you have not. It’s important that you understand Jesus is not talking about Salvation in this topic which is another subject. Here, Jesus is teaching us how to enter His Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and all the Prophets. He begins this section by telling us…Yes, I am a King and I am bringing a new Kingdom reality, but I did not come to undo the Law given to you by God through Moses. And in fact, His requirements are more strict than that of the Law. But where the Pharisees were unable to teach the people how to actually live the Law, Jesus tells us that He enables us to live this life through His Holy Spirit.
The Law given to Moses by God had been the instructions to the people on how to conduct their personal, civic, and spiritual lives. Many of the regulations on how to conduct civic life within the Israelite community were kept to a strict letter by the “teachers of the Law“. But Jesus tells us that these people who seem to understand every detail God prescribes about how to live the religion handed down by God fall short of the requirements for entrance into His Kingdom. He also says that those who “practice” these commands, some of which He is about to describe, “will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” This is another example of Jesus teaching that we “know by doing” as we have been discussing outside of this Matthew study.
Jesus teaches on some major areas of civic life (how we relate to others in our community) like Murder, Adultery, Divorce, Making oaths, Taking an eye for an eye, and Loving our enemies. The heart of His teaching is that our focus should not be on making sure we don’t cross a line (break a law) in our dealings with others. Instead He teaches that we should be so transformed on the inside that it is our very nature to go above and beyond any prescribed law of good behavior. In other words, our activity in relationship with others should always be the consequences of an inner life transformed by Love.
How can our inner life be transformed by Love? That is where Jesus takes us next as He teaches the disciples how to pray to God. How do we come to know Him? How are we transformed by Him, and become His instrument for change in the world? We will begin that discussion next week.
Make sure you go back and read Jesus’ words with this overview in mind.
Will you join us and invite others to participate? We’d love you to add to this post.