20 January 2018
GraceNotes – A Journey of Discovery
Scripture: Matthew 5:17-20 (Click link for scripture in Bible Gateway)
17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. 19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. 20 “But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven! (Matthew 5:17–20 NLT)
The Law of Moses was given to help us become human, to learn to live above our baser instincts. It set standards for acceptable behavior for people in a civilized community under God. Over the centuries, God’s little helpers, the religious authorities, made “The Law” so complex in its requirements that it took an entire industry of rabbis and “lawyers” to determine whether you were keeping The Law or not!
Jesus, and later Paul, said that The Law is good, because it shows us what’s right, shows us when we get it wrong, and tells us how to get back on the “Good List.” The Law’s weakness is that it monitors our behavior but doesn’t help us deal with the attitudes and motives of our hearts.
Six times in Matthew 5 Jesus quotes The Law, then says that the minimum standard of acceptable behavior according to The Law won’t cut it in the Kingdom he has come to introduce. When Jesus addresses anger, adultery, divorce, revenge, and neighbor love, he says it’s the attitude of our hearts that matters, not merely whether or not we pull the trigger.
Jesus introduced the New Covenant in his blood on the cross, and gave us his Holy Spirit to lead and empower us. The purpose of the Law is fulfilled. It’s time to be filled with The Spirit, be led by The Spirit, and live by The Spirit.
Father, I think this is going to take some time! Please be patient with me while I learn a new way of thinking. I’m committed to your way. I’ve got so much to learn! Thank you for leading me gently but firmly out of religion into relationship. I love your ways! Amen!