THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT -- LESSON ELEVEN
"Jesus and the Old Testament"
I. LESSON LINKS AND CONTEXT.
A. In the first division of the sermon on the mount Jesus set forth the
character and blessedness of citizens in the kingdom of heaven
(5:3-12), and their relationship to the world (5:13-16).
B. Matthew 5:17-20 serves as a preface to the second division of his
sermon, which deals with the righteousness of the kingdom. (5:21-7:12.)
II. NATURE AND IMPLICATIONS OF THE LESSON.
A. This lesson defines the vital relationship of the old and new
B. In it Jesus teaches the abiding value of the Old Testament and he
also establishes the fact that it was to pass away by fulfillment, not
C. Jesus did not come to destroy the purpose of the law, but to clarify
and fulfil its purpose. He came to "fulfil" the scriptures. (Matthew
26:53,54,56; Luke 24:44-47.)
D. Jesus actually kept, upheld, and attempted to correct
misunderstandings and wrong attitudes toward the law, but did
not leave it in force. (Romans 7:4.)
E. Six times in the sermon on the mount Jesus said, "Ye have heard
it said...but I say unto you..." In each case he contrasted "the
righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees" with the righteousness
required in the kingdom of heaven.
F. God showed on the mount of transfiguration Jesus came not as
Moses' interpreter but as his replacement. (Matt. 17:1-8.)
G. Jesus gave "the perfect law, the law of liberty," in the place of the
law of Moses. (James 1:25.)
I. THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH JESUS CAME. (Matthew 5:17)
A. To fulfil: "Think not that I came to destroy the law or the
prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfil." (17)
B. The first part of the sermon was in such contrast to the teaching of
the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus felt it necessary to utter this word
of explanation to prevent some from misunderstanding what
C. Jesus came to fulfil the types and prophecies concerning him in the
Old Testament scriptures. (Luke 24:44-47; Matthew 26:53,54,56).
D. He came to fulfil the purpose of the law concerning himself.
E. "To destroy the law would be more than to abrogate it for it was
both a system of statues designed for the ends of government, and
a system of types foreshadowing the kingdom of Christ. To destroy
it, therefore, would be both to abrogate its statues and to prevent
the fulfillment of its types. The former, Jesus eventually did; the
latter, he did not. As regards the prophets, the only way to destroy
them would be to prevent the fulfillment of the predictions
contained in them. Instead of coming to destroy either the law or
the prophets, Jesus came to fulfil all the types of the former, and
(eventually) all the unfulfilled predictions of the latter." -- J.W.
McGarvey, Commentary on Matthew, p.52.
F. Burton Coffman comments that "the difference in fulfilling and
destroying the Law of Moses was about the same as the difference
between paying off a promissory note and repudiating it. In
either case it is effectively removed." -- Coffman, Commentary on
G. Jesus took the law out of the way (Colossians 2:14-16), not by
violating or repudiating it, but by fulfilling it.
II. THE ENDURING NATURE OF THE LAW. (Verse 18.)
A. One jot or tittle: "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." (18)
1. The "jot" and "tittle" were the smallest character and marking,
of letters in the Hebrew alphabet.
2. Jesus upheld the law given through Moses in its entirety--
teaching that it would remain in force until "all things be
3. He affirmed that no part of the law would pass, or could be
disregarded, until God's purpose in giving it had been
completed. (cf. Hebrews 2:1-3.)
B. It is still wise and profitable to study the Old Testament. (Romans
1. The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed;
the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.
2. The Old Testament is inspired history of the creation; etc.
3. The Old Testament confirms the divinity and purpose of Jesus
4. The Old Testament shows the wisdom of living a godly life.
5. The Old Testament reveals the certain consequences of
disobedience. (1 Corinthians 10:1-13.)
III. THE SMALL AND THE GREAT IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
A. Break vs. do: "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these
least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be
called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall
do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the
kingdom of heaven." (19)
B. The person who lived under the law and broke what he considered
the least commandment, would be equally disrespectful and
unloving toward God under the law of his Son, Jesus Christ.
C. The person who did not feel obligated to keep or teach respect for
the law God gave through Moses and the prophets would be
considered least in the kingdom of heaven because of the same low
regard for the word of God.
D. Disobedience springs from unbelief and results in condemnation.
E. Jesus placed "doing" before "teaching," and showed great respect
for the law of God by both doing and teaching it faithfully.
IV. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS REQUIRED IN THE KINGDOM OF
CHRIST. (Verse 20.)
A. Exceed: "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness
shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye
shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew
1. The Pharisees and scribes were models of righteousness as far
as outward performance was concerned, and in their own
estimation. Some of the best of God's children then were
among the Pharisees.
2. But citizens of Christ's kingdom must exceed or go beyond
B. Things commendable in the Pharisees.
1. They lived separated, or clean, lives outwardly. But they were
not so clean inwardly. (Luke 18:9-12; Matthew 19:16-22; 23:25-28.)
2. They studied the scriptures. But some of them did not have
the love of God in their hearts. (John 5:39-42.)
3. They attended worship. But some of them sought the chief
seats, notoriety, etc. (Matthew 23:6; 6:1; 23:6.)
4. They prayed, at times to be heard of men (Matthew 6:5); and
tithed some things, while neglecting weightier matters of the
law. (Matthew 23:23.)
5. They zealously sought to win others (Matthew 23:15); but not
to make them citizens of God's kingdom--merely to gain
C. Carroll Ellis listed some things Jesus condemned in the Pharisees:
(Gospel Advocate, 9/10/64.)
1. They "sounded trumpets," or "blew horns." (Matthew 6:2.)
2. They "threw wrenches" (Mark 3:1-6; etc.), but were utterly
without a spirit of mercy.
3. They "twisted phrases" (Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13), making
void God's word by tradition, or in such matters of "corban."
4. They strained gnats, while swallowing camels. (Matthew
5. They had a fault-finding spirit. (Matthew 7:1-4.)
I. Though one may enter the kingdom now having less righteousness of
his own than some Pharisees, he must become superior to them in
righteousness to abide in it and to receive its blessed promises now
and eternally. (1 Timothy 1:15.)
II. Much of the sermon on the mount which follows this point is a
presentation of the righteousness required in Christ's kingdom in
contrast with both the righteousness of the law and the Pharisaic
perversions of the law.
III. When we love and teach as Jesus loved and taught (Romans 13:10),
God's law for us is fulfilled.
IV. Let us "strive to enter in by the narrow door." (Luke 13:24.)
-- Charles Crouch