OUTLINE OF THE WEEK
JOHN D. ARNOLD, Minister
1476 PEARL AVENUE
LIVE OAK, FLORIDA 32060-4223
INTRODUCTION : Early in his public ministry Jesus took his
disciples up into a mountain and there he preached to them the
Sermon on the Mount. It began with the beatitudes, those crystal
clear statements of the characteristics which Jesus wished his
disciples to possess.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom
of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed
are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they
shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain
mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of
God." (Matthew 5:3-9)
This greatest of all sermons ended with an illustration of warning,
in these words,
"Everyone therefore that heareth these words of mine,
and doeth them shall be likened unto a wise man who built his
house upon the rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came,
and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not:
for it was founded upon the rock. And every one that heareth these
words of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish
man who built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended,
and the floods came, and the winds blew, and smote upon that house;
and it fell: and great was the fall thereof."
The scriptures describe the reaction of the multitude who heard
the sermon, as follows,
"And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these words,
the multitudes were astonished at his teachings: for he taught
them as one having authority and not as the scribes.."
Between these two great passages Jesus set forth much of the heart
and center of the Christian religion. What the ten commandments
were to the Law of Moses, this sermon is to the Law of Christ.
In addition, this sermon deals with the very vital relationship
between the old and the new law.
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BY STRICT RABBINICAL STANDARDS, JESUS' LIFE WAS QUITE
UNORTHODOX. QUESTIONS WERE RAISED IN THE MINDS OF THE RELIGIOUS
LEADERS, BECAUSE JESUS HEALED PEOPLE ON THE SABBATH. When he was
challenged for having done so, Jesus pointed out that if it was
legitimate to pull an ox from a ditch on the Sabbath, surely it
was not wrong to heal a human being. Jesus was further questioned,
because he did not always perform the ceremonial washings before
eating meals. Jesus also allowed his disciples to pluck grain
on the Sabbath, as they walked through the fields. When challenged
on this matter, he compared it to the time when David and his
men ate the "shew-bread" as they fled before King Saul.
In all of these Sabbath violations, according to the traditions
of the Jews, Jesus was only demonstrating the precedence of human
need over law.
The tension that was created by Jesus' departure from the orthodox
behavior pattern of the Rabbis led Jesus to say in this great
"Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets:
I came not to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you,
Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in
no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished.
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments,
and shall teach men so shall be called least in the kingdom of
heaven, but whosoever shall do and teach them, he shall be called
great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, that except
your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes
and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven"
ACTUALLY, Jesus upheld the law. Notice that he came "not
to destroy, but to fulfill" the law. Not even the tiniest
particle of the law would pass away until it had served its purpose
or was fulfilled. In this life, he fulfilled the Mosaic Law completely,
and then took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross. Christ
did not discredit the law of Moses, for he considered it like
a calendar, which is vital for a time, but to be removed when
it had served its purpose. In Colossians 2:14, the apostle Paul
speaks of the "bond written in ordinances that was against
us, which was contrary to us: and he hath taken it out of the
way, nailing it to the cross." Not until it was fulfilled,
not until it had served its purpose completely, was the old law
Not Destroying the Law, But.......
l. Jesus was not destroying the law, but rather the accretions
and additions to the law. The Traditions of the Elders" had
been written down in the Mishnah. Then the Babylonian and Jerusalem
Talmuds had been written to explain the Mishnah. In these writings
ti was declared that a man could not write as much as two consecutive
letters of the Hebrew alphabet on the Sabbath. A man could not
apply wadding smeared with ointment to a fresh wound on the Sabbath.
It was permissible to apply wadding to such a wound, provided
it had not been dipped in ointment. 'Wives could not wear a broach
or ornament on the Sabbath, for this was considered to be the
carrying of a burden. Jesus came to destroy such interpretations
of the law of Moses as had been added by the traditions of man.
2. Jesus was not destroying the law, but rather an attitude of
legalism that had become divorced from the spirit of the law.
For example, the Jews could not light fires on the Sabbath, but
they considered it legitimate to hire Gentiles to do this service
for them. We recall the penetrating words of Jesus, "This
people honoreth me with their lips: but there heart is far from
me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as their doctrines
the precepts of men." (Matt. 15:8-9)
However, the most scathing rebuke of this attitude of legalism
is found in Matthew 23. Although the entire chapter is devoted
to pointing out the inadequacies of such legalism, we will notice
only verses 23 and 24, which read, "Woe unto you scribes
and Pharisees, hypocrite! For ye tithe, mint and anise and cunning,
and have left undone the weightier matters of the law, justice
and mercy and faith: but these ye ought to have done, and not
to have left the other undone. Ye blind guides that strain out
the gnat, and swallow the camel!"
3. Jesus was not destroying the law, but rather the idea that
obedience to law is the method or means by which man can be lifted
to the level of righteousness. The hope of making people good
by the threat of law is a vain hope. In our day we sometimes say
it, "You cannot legislate a moral principle." While
the laws can serve the purpose of delineating sin, within themselves
they do not furnish the incentive or motivating for lifting men
to righteous living. It takes something more. It was this something
more that Jesus came to add, as he fulfilled the old law and took
it out of the way.
The Spirit and the Incentive
By emphasizing the spirit as well as the letter of the law Jesus
stressed the deep underlying motives behind the overt act. Christ
deepened and widened the old law. In a large measure, negatives
were converted into positives. Where the attention had been on
the act, he turned it inward to the motives. There is an inwardness
Christianity which the Law of Moses never had.
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II. In the Sermon on the Mount there are six uses of the expressing,
"Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time....but
I say unto you...." In each case Jesus is taking a teaching
of the old law and giving it a new statement, thus making it a
deeper , wider, and higher commandment. We also recall Christ's
magnificent pair of illustrations in which he pointed out the
inadequacies of the old law, First, he said it in terms of not
putting new wine into old wine skins. Then he used the illustration
of the foolishness of trying to sew new cloth on old garments.
Most important of all, Christ brought himself as the incentive
for keeping the law. Love of a person will accomplish what rules
or laws cannot accomplish. Christ brought love in. God's love
inspires man's love. It is not law first, but the fulfillment
of the law." (Romans 13:10) Also, "'The law came
through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."
(John 1:17) On another occasion Paul wrote, "So that the
law is become our tutor to bring us unto Christ, that we might
be justified by faith. But now that faith is come, we are no longer
under a tutor." (Gal. 3:24-25).
Paul Needed Christ....
This whole emphasis on the inadequacy of law to lift men up is
demonstrated in Paul's own life. During the time that he was a
brilliant young Jewish lawyer, struggling valiantly to keep the
law to perfection, "circumcised the eighth day, of the
stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews;
as touching the law a Pharisee; as touching zeal persecuting the
church; as touching righteousness which is in the law found blameless"
(Phil. 3:5-6). , he was completely frustrated and unable to obtain
righteousness. Hear him as he describes his condition, "For
that which I do I know not: for not what I would, that do I practice;
but what I hate, that I do...For the good which I would I do not:
but the evil which I would not, that I practice......For I delight
in the law of God after the inward man: but I see a different
law in my members, waring against the law of my mind, and bringing
me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members.
Wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me out of the body of
this death? I thank God through Christ Jesus. For the law of the
spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me from the law of sin and
death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through
the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh
and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the ordnance of
the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh,
but after the spirit." (Romans 7:15-19, 22-25; 8: 1-4.)
Christ lived his entire life under the law of Moses, fulfilling
it perfectly, respecting it highly, but realizing that it had
served its purpose and was ready to be taken away. Having fulfilled
it, he nailed it to the cross, giving us "a perfect law,
the law of Liberty" in its place.
Let us rejoice that we are under the new law, the law of love.
Let us also rejoice that we have the person of our divine Savior
to inspire us to want to live according to the standards that
he set for us
Christ led the way. He asks us to do nothing that he did not do.
He lays no burden on us which he did not carry. We can follow
him all the way.
"For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched
with the feeling of our infirmatives; but one that hath been in
all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
In this life we find the incentive, the motivation that leads
us to want to live his kind of life. Let us follow him in life
that we may live with him after death throughout all eternity.