In Matthew 5:17 the meat of the Sermon on the Mount begins. We read in chapter 5 and verses 17 and 18: “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. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
The first thing to speak about here can go unnoticed, but I wanted to begin this study with focus on it. Typically when people teach on Scripture they teach as subordinate to it. In other words, Scripture stands and they stand on Scripture in their teaching. However, here, Jesus begins with “Do not think that I have come to. . .” We have an assertion of authority here. He is stating that His coming means something. He is beginning to draw a line in the sand about who He is. He has come, and this is different from some other preacher who has come. This is significant. He is significant.
There are some that believe the Old Testament is now simply a history book and is no longer valid, and I would argue that this series of statements, directly from the mouth of God incarnate, creates a pretty significant problem for this view. It’s completely inconsistent. What we will see in the near verses over the next few weeks is a radical new interpretation of the Law, but you will not see an overreaching arm into destroying the Law, or even saying the Law is no longer applicable now that Jesus is present.
We are to notice something else here. Jesus says that He has not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but He is here to fulfill them. He then adds that nothing, not even the tiniest part, will pass away from this Law until the world itself is no longer in existence. Did you catch what He said? He was here to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, and the Law will not pass away. What about the Prophets? Will they pass away with the world? What I believe Jesus is saying here, coupled with His assertion of authority in the beginning, is that He is the fulfillment of the Prophets, and now He has come to set us straight on how the Law is supposed to be applied. You see Jesus, did not change what God said was right and wrong. He did, however, integrate Himself into the framework of God’s moral code to the point of being the true teacher of it.
Too many Christians leave out the Old Testament. They simply read the New Testament and live in a flowery, fairy tale world. As warriors who bear the sword, we don’t have our heads in the sand to the realities of life because we see it and live it. There is a significant judgment theme in the New Testament and a significant grace theme in the Old Testament, but these are rarely seen by many. God has not changed from the Old Testament to the New Testament. He is the same God in all sixty-six books of the text. This is an important theme that is prominent in Matthew because He was writing to the Jewish people who followed the Law. We need to get that. We need to really get that. He is the same today as yesterday and will be the same in eternity. He is God and He is sovereign.
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Matthew 5:18 – “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”