Liable

MARCH 16

MATTHEW 5:21_Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment.

Jesus begins His transformation law list. First on the list is thou shalt not kill. What a great way to begin! Who’s going to question that? This statement should please the entire audience. No shouting of boo or hissing at this statement!

Jesus gains everyone’s approval by beginning with the sixth commandment. Not only would they approve, but they would be feeling good, relaxed, and maybe even a little proud. No guilt feelings over this one. No murderers were in this crowd, because murderers were dealt with promptly.

Jesus continues, whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. In order for Jesus to be the balance of judgment and mercy there has to be a place for judgment. The word judgment in this passage is translated as liable. That means you are held responsible for your actions. The Law makes it clear that to kill someone carries a judgment.

Jesus sees something beyond killing someone which can carry judgment. Jesus sees us liable for all our actions.

He is prepared to reveal this liability.

PRAYER

Righteous God, I want to be a part of Your multitude who listen for truth. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ understands judgment—He will teach me!

A Heap of Trouble!

MARCH 14

MATTHEW 5:21_Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time…

Jesus begins a series of principles to shed understanding on His fulfillment of the Law. He shares something which up until this sermon only Jesus could do – balance judgment and mercy. Now it is time to teach His salty-lit-up disciples how it’s done!

What was said by them of old time was the Law. The Old Testament covenant God made with Abraham and the laws he gave to Moses (the Ten Commandments, etc.). This was the standard the Hebrews lived by – their rules and regulations. This is how they worshiped, how they gave themselves to being Jews – God’s chosen people.

We Gentiles had no chance for the kingdom life because we were not chosen. Neither did we have the laws to teach us how to worship, serve, and know God. What was said by them of old time was for the Jews alone.

If that was enough, there was no need for a New Testament covenant (and Gentiles would be in a heap of trouble!). Jesus now becomes salt and light for the Old Testament. 

If the Scribes and Pharisees have had trouble relating to Jesus before – watch out. They are about to throw a fit!

PRAYER

Father of All, Thank You for teaching me an understanding of balance. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.                                                   

Christ teaches balance—He helps me understand!

BFFs

MARCH 7

MATTHEW 5:19_the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Can you think of a more beautiful reward than to be called great in the kingdom of heaven? It surpasses any honor the world can offer.

To receive this reward means you believe in and teach (by word or influence) Biblical commands. If this were impossible Jesus never would have taught the principle. The road to the reward begins with some understanding of the life of Jesus. The understanding can’t be gained without Bible reading and meditating (dwelling on until you have it in your heart) on what you read. Bible study needs to be filled with prayer. This is what is known as a daily quiet time.

Dedication to a quiet time leads you to become a salty-lit-up disciple. You won’t have one without the other. The Bible, prayer, discipleship, salt, and light are BFFs.

Jesus clears up some of His teachings in the rest of this chapter. His balance of judgment and mercy equaling the fulfillment of the Law gives some understanding. 

Learning to distinguish the spirit of the Law from the letter of the Law brings everything together.

PRAYER

Savior of the World, I want to be great in the kingdom of heaven.  I want to believe that if You said it then it is possible. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ is the Spirit of the Law—He wants to teach me!

From the Letter to the Spirit

FEBRUARY 26

MATTHEW 5:18_pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Here is the point of Jesus’ principle, till all be fulfilled. Notice how Jesus took specific steps to emphasize His point. 

First, He began with the verily: [I solemnly declare, sacred, seriously and thoughtfully, emphatically, affirm]. He’s grabbing our attention right from the get-go.

Second, Jesus makes clear the time frame He is addressing, till heaven and earth pass away, as long as the world we live in lasts. 

Third, Jesus shows the inclusiveness of every part of the Law, jots and tittles [tiniest of strokes]. Even these will stand, last, and endure.

Had Jesus stopped with these three points we would all be living under the Law. The fulfillment takes us from the letter of the Law to the spirit of the Law. The Law, and the strictest keeping of it, can never equal the sacrifice Christ made on the cross. His death gave us new life. Jesus’ resurrection opened the door for eternity. 

If you are confused about fulfillment, and the judgment and mercy balance – stay tuned. In just a few more verses Jesus will take more specific steps to explain.

PRAYER

Saving Jesus, Please guide me with Your truth, step by step. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen. 

Christ is the spirit of the Law—I should be too!

Jesus’ Destructive Agenda

FEBRUARY 22

MATTHEW 5:17_I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

There was hardly anything destructive about Jesus’ earthly life. He came to heal the sick, give hope to the destitute, set demonic captives free, raise the dead, and above all else, freely give eternal life. His earthly purpose from beginning to end was mercy and love.

However, He did have one destructive agenda – hypocrisy. This would be hypocrisy among the God followers, salt that’s been contaminated with arrogance and lust, and lost its savor. Lights that shine only to bring self-glory. Those were things for which Jesus showed zero tolerance. 

He did not hesitate to call the guilty appropriate names, and in one instance physically remove their presence from the temple.

To destroy the law or prophets was far from Jesus’ purpose. He made it very clear He was their fulfillment. The balance Jesus brought between the judgment of the Old Testament and the mercy of the New Testament was something Jesus alone could achieve.

To have too much of one and not enough of the other is destructive. Salt and light require the perfect balance of each.

PRAYER

Righteous Jesus, Help me to never fall into hypocrisy. Make me aware if I’m heading in that direction and re-direct my steps. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

 Christ balances judgment and mercy—Praise Him!