God’s Law is a Gift
In Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus (like any good Rabbi and teacher) teaches His disciples how He views the Law. Here’s what He says:
- He Fulfills the Law (17-18): Jesus was accused of not taking the Old Testament seriously. However, Jesus states that He has not come to strip the OT of meaning but rather to “fulfill” it by bringing out its true meaning.
- His Disciples Obey the Law (19): The “great” disciples of Jesus do not “relax” the Law. Instead, they live out the commands of Jesus and teach others to do the same.
- His Disciples Do More than Outwardly Obey (20): Unlike the scribes and Pharisees, His disciples’ obedience would be to glorify God, not receive glory from others. (ref. Matthew 23:23-28)
In this passage, Jesus confronts our Self-Rule. He knows the greatest enemy we face in obeying God is our desire to be in charge and run the show. And we do that in two ways:
- Laziness: We leverage grace to “relax” Jesus’ commands and choose what to obey. We live as if we are wiser than God. We are “god” over the Law.
- Legalism: We obey outwardly to feel good about ourselves before God and others. We live as if we deserve God’s grace. We are “god” over the Blessing.
Both of these fail to see God’s Law as a good gift. We think God is asking us to do something that will take away our joy, so we disobey. Or we think God will withhold joy from us if we slip up, so we work hard to keep appearances.
But the Gospel rejects both of these ways by displaying the love of God toward us and affirming that He is worthy of our trust and obedience. This is what Jesus means when He says He came to fulfill the Law:
- Jesus fulfilled the Law through His obedience: There’s not one command that Jesus ignored and excused away due to Laziness. Nor did He ever obey to earn God’s love and grace like a Legalist. Jesus perfectly obeyed because He knew His Father loved Him and He trusted that the Law was good. He is our example of what true life looks like.
- Jesus fulfilled the Law in His sacrifice: We have never obeyed perfectly though. So, like a lamb led the slaughter, Jesus laid down His perfect life for us. He did not deserve to die, yet He was still crucified on our behalf as our atoning sacrifice. Those whose sins are atoned for by His death are free from the condemnation of the Law.
- Jesus Empowers us to Obey: Yet, because Jesus did not deserve to die, death had no claim on Him. He rose 3 days later as our Victorious King! His disciples, forgiven and redeemed by His death, are given new life through His resurrection. His Spirit lives in His disciples: applying His perfect record to our account, breaking the power of sin over us, and empowering us to obey the Law.
At the root of our obedience are these questions: Do you believe that God is good? That He wants what’s best for you? That He truly loves you? If not, look to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Why would God do that for you? Because God is for you!
Our whole life we’ve looked for ways to find joy, meaning, love, and success all in our own wisdom and strength. And now here we are, broken and still looking for answers.
And here Jesus is…loving and kind; gracious and merciful; just and holy; perfect in all of His ways, and He’s offering you a new life. A better life. True life. A Life lived by the Law. What a gift!
Listen to the sermon HERE.