Forgiving One, I praise You for Your glory and grace, Your peace and power, Your greatness and goodness.
Read Matthew 5:17–26
The Fulfillment of the Law
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister[b][c] will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’[d] is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Reflect‘Who can discern their own errors?’ the psalmist asks (Psalm 19:12). As you prepare, ask God to forgive your hidden faults. ‘May … this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight’ (Psalm 19:14). Amen.
Jesus’ authoritative teaching was so radically different from that of other rabbis (e.g. Mark 1:27) that some people viewed it as revolutionary or even contrary to Old Testament Law. Jesus refuted this strongly (vs 17–19). While the Pharisees kept rigorously to the letter of the Law, Jesus challenged his disciples to go deeper. He wanted them to understand the full implication of the Law (v 20), which was intended to form inner holiness, so that God’s people would reflect God’s character.
Holiness begins with our thoughts. Take murder, for instance. Acts of violence begin with angry thoughts and aggressive attitudes (v 22). Unlike earthly justice systems, the heavenly court has no hierarchy of wrongdoing, nor a sliding scale of punishments (vs 21,22) – an insult carries the same weight as murder! That’s why Jesus urges his listeners to resolve arguments and conflicts quickly (vs 23–25). Don’t allow angry thoughts time to fester and poison relationships.
Faced with such holy standards, we all stand condemned. That is why Jesus’ claim in verse 17 is so astounding and comforting. He fulfilled the Law when we could not (v 20).
Hebrews 10:16 reminds us of God’s promise: ‘I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.’ Is there a relationship you need to restore? Don’t put it off.
Loving Lord Jesus, I know You will complete Your work in my life. Bring to my awareness any issue I need to address and forgive me for my sins.
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