by Arnold Fruchtenbaum
Series:The Jewish Life of Christ
Duration:55 mins 42 secs


16. Messiah’s Authority to Interpret the Law – Paragraph 54

Paragraph 54

Paragraph 54, we come to the section of the Harmony where we have what is called the Sermon on the Mount. It’s a valid title but the proper title is it only spells out the geography of where He was when He gave the message; it says nothing about the content. So what I’ve done for you is given you a different title, point 16 in your outline, Messiah’s Authority to Interpret the Law which deals more with the content of the Sermon. Now by way of introduction before we survey the sum as a whole I want to do two things; first I want to discuss the historical background and what led to the Sermon. And secondly, answer the question, what is the Sermon on the Mount as a unit, as a package.

First of all, the historical background: It’s a time of Jewish history when the Jewish people were looking for the Messianic redemption, looking for the coming of the Messiah to establish His Messianic Kingdom. And the people knew from the prophets of the Old Testament that when the Messiah came righteousness will be the way of entering the Kingdom. Righteousness was the ticket, the means of entry. Now the four preceding centuries Pharisaism had developed offering the Jewish people a form of righteousness but it’s a wide way of righteousness, a wide road because it meant, as we saw last night, all Israel has a share in the age to come. And if you were born a Jew you would make it into the Kingdom.

And so the question that would be raised among the masses, as Jesus proclaimed a rather narrow way, so narrow you have to believe in His Messiahship to have the right into the Kingdom, will you ultimately authenticate Pharisaic righteousness, and if not, what kind of righteousness is essential. And the key verse to understand the whole purpose of the Sermon is found in Matthew 5:20, “For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.” This one statement rejects Pharisaism on two counts. First of all, as having the correct interpretation of the true righteousness of the Mosaic Law; and second, as having the kind of righteousness that will qualify you for the Kingdom.

Now the second question to deal with in introduction is what was an amount (?) as a unit, as a package what was its intent? Let me point out three things it is not. First of all, it was not intended to be the constitution of the Messianic Kingdom. This has been a popular interpretation in our premillennial and dispensational circles, but that’s not really the intent because if that was the intent it would mean the reinstitution of the 613 commandments of the Mosaic Law and that will not happen again since Messiah died. So the intent was not to give us a constitution of the Kingdom.

Secondly it is not a way of salvation; this interpretation is more frequent in more liberal Christian circles where they want to avoid the “narrow” thinking, as they would say it, of believing in Jesus to be the only way of salvation. As they’ll often say, to keep the principles of the Sermon on the Mount, if you keep the golden rule you can still make it to heaven, even if you cannot come to believe in Jesus. The problem with the second view is they make it a way of salvation by works. Salvation is always by grace through faith apart from works. It is a rule of life for those already saved but not a means of earning salvation. The intent was not to be a way of salvation.

Thirdly, it’s not intended to be church ethics or Christian ethics for this age. And again I mean that as a unit. He does say things in here that do become church ethics for this age; we know what does or does not by what is repeated later in the Gospels, or by the apostles in the epistles. But as a package and viewed at the time it was given that was not its intent because it was church ethics for this age what would that mean for you? Well, no more ham on rye any more; no more bacon and eggs any more; no more all those “oinky” things the Gentiles have learned to love for those are beyond the eating laws. If you have any clothing you’re wearing right now made of mixed threads you’re violating the Sermon on the Mount; you could not wear that kind of clothing under the Mosaic Law. Or if you’re a man and you have a beard but your beard is not squared but rounded you broke the Mosaic Law. If you shaved you’ve broken the Sermon on the Mount, for example. So if this was intended to be church ethics for this age a number of you are living in deep sin right here even as I speak. But that’s not its intent so these three things it’s not: it’s not the constitution of the Kingdom; it’s not a way of salvation; it’s not church ethics for this age.

What it is this: It’s the Messiah’s interpretation of the true righteousness of the Law in contradistinction with the Pharisaic interpretation of the righteousness of the Law. Again: Messiah’s interpretation of the true righteousness of the Law in contradistinction with the Pharisaic interpretation of the righteousness of the Law.

Now notice how certain verses begin; look at Matthew 5:21, “Ye have heard that it was said.” Verse 27, “Ye have heard that it was said.” Verse 31, “It was said also.” Verse 33, “Again, ye have heard that it was said.” And verse 38, “Ye have heard that it was said.” And verse 43, “Ye have heard that it was said.” When the issue is the point of the Mosaic Law, the written law, the formula is as you see it often elsewhere, “it is written.” “It is written.” If the issue is that of the oral law the formula is as you see it here, “Ye have heard that it was said,” because again at this point in the Law, this point of time the Mishnah had not yet been written, it was all taught orally and passed down orally. And what He will do, as we will see in a few minutes, He pulls out a Mosaic commandment out of the written law and shows a contrast between their interpretation of the righteousness of the command in the oral law and then His interpretation of the righteousness of that command.

a. The Occasion – Matthew 5:1-2

In your outline I’ve given you a breakdown of this paragraph and in small a in Matthew 5:1-2. And notice what it says in verse 1, He sat down; again this is a rabbinic position. You always teach the Word of God from a sitting position, so once again we see Him sitting as He teaches. Now this Sermon comes after He has closed the apostolic group of twelve in the previous paragraph; it comes after there has been a very intense interest in the claims of Jesus, as Luke points out in verse 17. Also it comes after there have already been initial points of conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees over the authority of the Mishnah, especially in the area of Sabbath observance. So now He will spell out how the facts of how to keep the true righteousness of the Law and then contrast it with the Pharisaic interpretation.

b. The Characteristics of True Righteousness – Matthew 6:13-16
(1) Characteristics of Those who Attain – Matthew 5:3-12

So on the outline we come to small “b,” the characteristics of true righteousness, and parenthetical (1), Characteristics of Those Who Attain, first of all relationship to God. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” to be “poor in the spirit” is to have a right and proper evaluation of one’s self before God. This is in Matthew’s account in verse 3. It is the opposite of pride, have a right evaluation of ourselves before God, recognizing that we have no righteousness of our own, the only righteousness what we have is what we have because of our faith in God.

Second, “Blessed are they that mourn,” this means develop a sensitivity to sin that will lead to one confessing their sins to God. “Blessed are the meek,” to be meek is to have a quiet confidence and submission to God’s authority. It’s not cowardice, it’s simply confidence that God can bring us through any situation. And fourthly, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness.” Now righteousness is to live consistently with an absolute standard. In this case the absolute standard happened to be the Mosaic Law. And those who live consistently with the emphasis in the Mosaic Law are the ones that are going to be receiving this blessing.

I might point out, the word actually doesn’t mean “blessed,” it means “happy.” “Happy” are those that attain this; “happy” are those that attain that, and the characteristics of a happy spiritual life is to live consistently with the standard under which we operate. Now for them at this point of time, that standard, as we’ll see, was indeed the Mosaic Law.

Then we have the characteristics of those who attain the relationship to men. First of all, “Blessed are the merciful,” to be merciful means to show compassion, to be able to respond to needs of others, to be willing to meet the needs of others as we are able. “Blessed are the pure in heart,” it means to be honest, to operate and do good things out of a proper motivation. We can do good things with a false motivation; that shows an impurity in the heart. But the proper response is to show purity by doing things from a proper motivation, a love of God. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” a person once quoted that because he helped achieve a measure of peace between Israel and Egypt but it’s nothing about political peace; he’s talking about the unity among believers and those who make peace among different divisions of believers are the ones who also attain this kind of happiness. “Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake,” and again righteousness means to live consistent with a standard, and if a believer lives consistent with an absolute standard that will raise a sense of guilt among those observing him that are not believers and therefore could bring on, and often does bring on, persecution. And so if we live consistently with the absolute standard we should anticipate a measure of persecution.

Now in light of His coming on the scene claiming to be the Messiah, there’s one more point made. “Blessed are you when men shall reproach you and persecute you … for My sake.” Before He came they would be persecuted only because of their consistent living in accordance with the Mosaic Law, but now those who believe in the Messiahship of Jesus are going to also attract persecution. But those who are willing to suffer the persecution, they reach a level of special happiness that others cannot attain. So these are characteristics of those who attain the righteousness of the Law, both relationship to God and relationship to man.

(2) Characteristics of Those who Fail – Luke 6:24-26

Now Luke’s account, in Luke 6:24-26 spells out woes to those who do not attain the righteousness of the law. He points out they are characterized by four things. They are merely seeking wealth because they’re thinking the benefits of this life, not believing much in the next one; they’re merely seeking self-satisfaction, they fail to show mercy towards others; they are merely seeking merriment and they are supposed (?) to laugh now because they don’t believe in laughing later; and they’re merely seeking a reputation. And so Luke provides some things that will characterize those who fail to attain the righteousness of the Law.

(3) Characteristics in Relation to the World - Matthew 5:13-16

In Matthew’s account it goes on to point out, under parenthetical 3, Relationship to the World, and those who attain the righteousness of the Law will attain certain things in connection to the world. First of all, they become salt, “the salt of the earth.” Now salt was used for two purposes; first of all for seasoning, and those who attain the righteousness of the Law have a kind of fellowship among themselves that can never relate to other people. Those of us who are in the fellowship of believers living rightly with the Lord, we cannot relate to unbelievers the way we relate to believers; it just doesn’t happen. But it’s because we have fellow believers that makes life worth living, and being in constant fellowship makes life in this world living.

A second purpose of salt was as a preservative. And it was the teaching of the prophets, like Isaiah 1, which is that the reason God has never destroyed Israel because of their sinfulness is because there’s always been a believing remnant. And the Jewish believers within the body of Israel are the salt of the earth in the sense of being a preservative. And the reason Israel always perseveres is because of the believing remnant, sometimes small, sometimes larger, but always there. God may use different means to preserve the people, like He uses the Israeli army, but the reason the Israeli army has victory, whether they recognize this or not is because there’s a believing remnant of Jews who believe in the Messiahship of Jesus.

The second thing they become to the world, they become the light, and because they are the light they also attain the light and provide spiritual light by their good works. Now we have faith but people cannot see faith; faith is not a substance they see but they could see the good works we produce because of our faith. As a result many may come to faith.

c. The Code of True Righteousness – Matthew 5:17-48
(1) Introduction – Matthew 5:17-20

Now small “c” on your outline, The Code of True Righteousness, in Matthew’s account, Matthew 5:17-48. What he does is he begins with a parenthetical statement followed by specific examples. The parenthetical statement is found in verses 17-20, “Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy but to fulfill. [18] But I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall in any wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished.”

Here He points out His purpose is not to destroy the Law and the Prophets; He came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. Now keep in mind, the Law does not end with the coming of Messiah; the Law ends only with the death of the Messiah. As long as He was living all 613 commandments were mandatory. Now people use this verse to teach we have to still keep the Law today but then they become rather selective; even they don’t teach you have to keep all 613 commandments and so they pick and choose, pick and choose, but Moses did not give us 613 suggestions; these are commandments as a unit, either they are all in or they are all out. As long as He’s alive the Law is fully in effect and (?) He will keep the Law perfectly and by His perfect keeping of the Law He fulfilled the Law. And then He took upon Himself the penalty of the Law by dying upon a cross and by His death the Law came to an end as a rule of life.

But He’ll be the One that will fulfill every jot and tittle. What does that refer to? The word “jot” actually refers to the tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the letter Yodh. Now the letter Yodh is the tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, it’s the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet; it’s about a quarter the size of all the other letters. For example, here’s the letter Bet, when you compare the size the letter Yodh is only one tenth, one quarter I should say of the Hebrew letter. And the point of saying “not one jot” He says He will fulfill the Law down to the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Now what’s the tittle? Some Hebrew letters look very much the same, like the letter Beth, and the letter Koph; the only difference is a small thing protruding right here. That is the tittle. Another example; you have the letter Dalet for D, you have the letter Resh for R. The only thing that distinguishes between these two letters is that small thing sticking out there, that’s your tittle. The point is this; He will fulfill the Law down to the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet He wills also to fulfill the Law to the smallest individual part of a single Hebrew letter.

By using the letters He points out the Law He will fulfill is going to be the written Law, the one Moses gave. He does not intend to fulfill the Mishnahic law; but He will fulfill the Law perfectly, down to every jot and tittle. The Mosaic Law is in effect, He points out, all 613 commandments must be kept in verse 19, and people use verse 19 and focus only on the Ten Commandments, but he didn’t give ten, he gave 613. What He is going to deal with is not (?) of only the Ten; some of the ten, some other commandments. The Law of Moses is not 10 plus 603; it’s one unit, 613 commandments; either it’s all in or it’s all out. And the point of verse 19 at this stage it is all in, they have to keep even the least commandment; the least commandment of what? They have to keep the least command­ment of the Mosaic Law. Again, the Law is in force until He dies.

As we come to verse 20, we’ve noted earlier, the kind of righteousness that the Pharisees are offering is too wide a righteousness, and His righteousness is a narrow type of righteousness, the kind of righteousness that will qualify you for God’s Kingdom. It’s the kind of righteousness you’ll be given only if you accept Him as the Messiah and nothing else.

(2) The Examples – Matthew 5:21-48

Now in the parenthetical 2 he gives certain examples. The first example in verses 21-26, and the commandment He takes out of the Mosaic Law, is “You shalt not kill,” you shall not commit premeditated murder. In the Pharisaic interpretation the ration (?) of this commandment, the way it was interpreted, you were not guilty of breaking this command until you committed the act. And the Messiah says that’s a wrong interpretation. You do not violate the letter of the command till you commit the act. You cannot be punished by the Law until the act is committed. But the righteousness of the command is broken previously. And He points out that before anyone commits murder he first of all develops on the inside an animosity towards the victim. Once the animosity is there inside, the righteousness of this command has been broken. Look at the last line of verse 22, “whoever shall call his brother Raca,” Raca is an Aramaic Hebrew term meaning you empty-head. Just to begin calling people names not out of a… just as friends do, but out of animosity, developing an attitude that could lead to murder. Whether it does lead to murder or does not lead to murder, the righteousness of this command has already been broken. The Mosaic Law did not merely require external conformity; it required both internal and external conformity.

The second example is verses 27-30, you should not commit adultery. In the Pharisaic interpretation you were not guilty of violation the ration (?) of this command until you commit the act of adultery. He says that’s a wrong interpretation. Now again you do not violate the letter of the command until you commit the act; you cannot be stoned to death until the act is committed. But the righteousness of the command is broken before the act is performed. Before a man commits adultery, he begins to lust after someone he’s not married to and once again the lust there inside; the ration (?) of this command has already been broken. And again it’s the internal violation that could lead to the act of adultery. Whether it does or it does not lead to adultery, the ration of this command has been broken.

Now the third example in verse 31 is the law of divorce but it gives a more detailed version of this later on in paragraph 122, and next weekend we’ll get to paragraph 122 so I’ll hold off discussing this until that paragraph. If you are married, try to stay married until we get to paragraph 122 and we’ll see what the issues of divorce and remarriage happen to be.

The fourth example is the law of taking an oath in verses 33-37. Now what the rabbis developed through the Mishnah is proper ways of taking, of making, an oath and if you say it this way you have to keep it, if you say it that way you don’t have to keep it. But the person hearing you would not know that subtle difference. He points out in this section that a believer should be recognized to be true to his word; a believer should recognize faithfulness to his own words. And so a believer says yea or nay it should be understood to be yea or nay, and so a believer should not have the need to take an oath in some proper way to be believed. And the character of a believer is to always be trustworthy, rather than the need of oath taking and definitely should not make promises we cannot keep or don’t intend to keep.

The next example in verse 38-42, number five here, is “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” In the Mosaic context this was a judicial judgment that the punishment must fit the crime. It was to be carried out by a judicial court of law. But the Pharisees took this phrase as a basis for individual vengeance ignoring the fact that the Bible teaches in the Old Testament that vengeance is God’s, He’s repay. And by applying this to individual vengeance and placed in a court of law they totally misconstrued the purpose of this commandment.

And the last example in verses 43-48 has to do with loving your neighbor, the law of love. The Pharisees defined your neighbor not merely as being a fellow Jew but more specifically a fellow Pharisee. And they divided the Jewish role between a group called the Haverim (?), those who are fellow Pharisees and those who are the ha eretz, those are the people of the land, outside the Pharisaic circle. And by making that a necessary division they limited the loving of neighbor only to fellow Pharisees. But the principle of the law is your neighbor is anyone who has a need that you can meet, and therefore that must be the approach. So these were the aspects of the code of true righteousness.

d. The Conduct of True Righteousness – Matthew 6:1-18
(1) Introduction – Matthew 6:1

Now small (d) on your outline, moving into Matthew 6 we have the conduct of true righteousness again with an introduction followed by the examples. And the introduction spells out the principle in verse 1, “Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them: else ye have no reward with your Father which is in heaven.” People often do things not because out of a love for God, which should be the proper motivation, they do things to be honored by men. And then when those good things do be honored by men that’s all the reward they will receive. And therefore our purpose in doing good things is for the purpose of meeting the needs of others, for the good of others, and our motivation should be we do this for love of God and not for the honor we may receive from it.

(2) Examples – Matthew 6:2-18

Then he gives some examples, the first example is in the area of alms giving in verses 2-4. And if people are giving alms they should try to do it as quietly as possible, as secretly as possible, that’s why church envelopes are a good thing. And by all means certain people should know to keep a receipt to deduct from your taxes, we shouldn’t give the govern­ment more money than we’re obligated to give them and have more money for the Lord’s work. But we should be and we should give as quietly as possible. That’s why Ariel Ministries, our normal policy is that we take a free will offering at the end of each service and notice that those who don’t have a lot of money cannot give much often have a dollar bill folded very small and drop it in; those who give larger ones, sometimes they give $50 bills and those are just laid out flat the way it is. But it’s kind of violating what this principle says and so we should give, we should try to give as quietly and as secretly as possible, limiting those that need to know.

Now the second example in Matthew 6:5-15 has to do with the issue of prayer and he points out two things about prayer initially before He gives us a basic outline, actually three things. First of all, in verse 5 when do have public prayer we should not pray for the purpose of showing off our oratory skills. We should not pray in a way that we show off our expertise in King James English. But we should be focused on God. He does not argue against public prayer, and elsewhere He participates in public prayer and so do the apostles. But the point is the purpose of public prayer is not to show off our oratory skills.

Secondly, we should not use prescribed prayers in Matthew 6:7; do not use praying in vain repetitions as the Gentiles do. The uniqueness about the Biblical faith and all other religions, in all other religions they always have prescribed prayers. Every religion uses prayer books to pray through. And by this point of time in Judaism it also developed into a Gentile type of religion because prayers were through prayer book. And again there were daily prayer books, Sabbath prayer books, and to this day every synagogue uses prayer books. The problem with prayer books is you’re merely mouthing words that somebody else wrote. And the uniqueness about biblical faith is extemporaneous prayer, that we speak our own words, we speak to a God, we spell out our needs. And therefore rather than resorting to vain repetition we should be conscious of our own prayer life and using our own words and our own abilities and our own way of speaking to the Lord. We should speak to God the same way we speak to others.

On the other hand he points out prayer should not be haphazard either. And in Matthew 6:9 He says, “After this manner therefore pray,” and He gives us an outline of a model prayer. Notice what He does not say… He does not say pray this prayer. Guess what church history has often done? In many of your churches they always repeat this prayer every Sunday, using vain repetition. He told them not to use vain repetition and they misconstrue what He says and they use this prayer as vain repetition. He does not say pray this prayer; He’s saying pray after this manner, after this outline, what He does is give us a basic six point outline as to how to organize our quiet time, our prayer life. So if we have a regular quiet time and prayer life we should try to focus on this six point outline but throughout the day we should always be open to short prayers as necessary and as needed, even just to communicate with the Lord.

First of all, your prayers should be addressed to God the Father. In America most prayers are addressed to God the Father. When I travel in Europe I find most people praying directly to the Son and so on. But as far as the examples we have in Scripture we don’t have any examples of praying either to Jesus or to the Holy Spirit. All prayers which are truly prayers are addressed to God the Father and that’s the basic pattern. We should address our prayers to God the Father. Now I don’t believe it’s a sin to address the prayer to Christ or address the prayer to the Spirit; it’s not a sin but it’s simply not the biblical model.

Secondly, we should sanctify God, “Hallowed be Your name.” This is a good time, for example, to focus on different attributes of God, pick one, meditate upon it for several times of prayer, then pick another one, but in the second part of our prayer life we should be sanctifying God, setting Him apart, in such a way we’re focused on Him.

Third, we should be praying for the Kingdom program, which is not merely praying for the soon return of the Lord but part of the Kingdom program of this age includes, for example, evangelism, church ministries, the maturing of the saints and so on, there’s a time to pray for the missionaries we support in different parts of the world, at home and so on. But every facet of God’s Kingdom program that’s a third area we should be focusing on in our prayer life.

Fourth, we should also pray for our daily needs. And do if we have daily needs that we’re not sure how God’s going to meet for rent or mortgage or food or gas for the car and so on, this is the time to pray for our daily needs.

Fifthly we should pray for the forgiveness of our sins. In many of your quiet time booklets they tell you when you first talk to the Lord start out confessing your sins because you have to clean your slate off before God hears you. That’s a nice saying but it’s not really completely accurate and He puts the confessing of sins fifth in place. At some point in your quiet time if you’re aware of a sin you’re guilty of you should confess it; it doesn’t necessarily have to be the first thing you do in your prayer life.

And then sixthly, we should pray for the spiritual warfare; the warfare against the world, the flesh and the devil. So on one hand our prayers should not be prescribed and they should not be haphazard either. Again, this does not rule out the simple prayers we do throughout the day but in our quiet time that’s a basic good outline to follow.

And then He deals with the third issue in Matthew 6:16-18, this issue of fasting. Now fasting is nowhere commanded for a New Testament believer; there’s no command to fast. So believers have the option to fast if they choose to take the option, then what they should be doing is making sure that the purpose of fasting is to set time aside for meditation upon the things of the Lord and not to be seen of men. And to avoid that as soon as people notice we’re fasting it’s time to eat again. But the fasting is to show our dedication to the Lord, not to show off our spirituality.

e. The Practice of True Righteousness
Matthew 6:19-7:12

In small “e” on your outline we come to the practice of true righteousness, where He basically teaches specific lessons, five all together. First of all concerning money and He points out that we should be able to trust the Lord to meet our needs, and we need to make money to pay certain bills, to support our family and things of that nature, but our focus should not be on the finances. At the end of verse 24 notice it says, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” The word “mammon” was the common rabbinic term for what the world offers materially. What is “mammon?” The material aspects of this world. And if we give ourselves to serving money we will fail to serve God; if we serve God and do what we have to do, then our needs will be provided. And therefore we cannot serve masters, either we’re serving materialism or we’re serving the Lord.

The second lesson has to do with anxiety in Matthew 6:25-34; we should not be anxious over the things that are basic needs because He points out God takes care of the birds of the heavens; He takes care of the flowers of the field. There are certain basic things believers can trust God for to provide, three things: number one, a roof over our heads; number two, clothing for our body; number three, food on the table. It may not be French gourmet food but it will be sufficient to supply. I mean that as a general principle; it’s not an absolute principle because in times of persecution these things will be withheld from believers; believers have died of exposure, and have died of starvation in periods of persecution, but in normal times we can trust God to provide the roof over our heads, clothing on our bodies and food for our stomachs.

So our emphasis in Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” So in place of anxiety over these things we simply live the kind of rule of life we have to live based upon our law of life which now is the law of Christ, but for these readers the law of Moses. And (?) consistently with the standard God will provide the basic needs, He won’t necessarily provide for their wants but their needs. Notice the phrase at the end of verse 30, “how much more” here again the (?) of the former argument; if God has taken care of the lesser things like flowers and birds, He will take care of the greater things which are believers.

The third lesson has to do with the issue of judging in Matthew 7:1-6 and people have pulled this verse out of context to teach that we must never judge others. That’s not what the issue is because the Bible often tells us that we have to judge others; we’re required to confront believers living in sin, the issues of church discipline spelled out later in the Gospels, and Matthew 18 requires measures of judgment. We’re dealing again with the context of Pharisaism. The only proper criteria of judging is the Bible itself—the absolute standard. And we should not use man-made standards to judge others. So in verse 1, “Judge not that ye be not judged; [2] For with what measure of judgment you judge you shall be judged.” And if we use man-made standards God will ultimately show us that we ourselves don’t meet up with these man-made standards. And therefore the proper way to evaluate others is based upon Scripture, the same way we evaluate ourselves, only by Scripture. We’re not responsible to maintain traditions; yet we are responsible to maintain a standard of righteousness.

Now the fourth lesson, there’s one more lesson on prayer; notice in Matthew 7:7, ask, seek and knock, but in Greek these are present tenses that have a continuous action; keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. That is not vain repetition because as long as we’re burdened to pray for a specific thing, I’ll keep praying for the salvation of my mother, for the salvation of my siblings; as long as it is still your burden it’s still your prayer. It’s not praying from a prayer book, which is vain repetition. But if praying the same prayer over and over again that is a real concern of yours, that is not only permissible but here’s it’s encouraged. Keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking; there should be persistence in our prayer life as well.

Then fifthly we have the core of the practice of true righteousness in Matthew 7:12, “All things therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Now one of the leading rabbis of Jewish history, Rabbi Hillel put the same principle but he put a negative: don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you,” but that can keep you inactive; but here’s it’s more positively stated: do to others what you want people to do to you even if they don’t do it for you, still do for others what you want them to do for you. In the actions this summarized the law and the prophets. As we shall learn a bit later, the Law contained commandments concerning God and commandments concerning men. As long as we obey the commandments in relationship to the God we’ll naturally keep commandments in relationship to men. If we fail to keep our commandments to men we’re also failing to keep our commandments in relationship to God.

f. The Warnings Concerning True Righteousness
Matthew 7:13-27

Now small f, the warnings concerning the true righteousness or cautions. He begins to close His Sermon on the Mount or His interpretation of the Law by bringing out four different pairs. The first pair is the two ways. And the ways is in verses 13-14, there is the wide way, the Pharisaic way and the Pharisaic way will lead to destruction because they simply teach all Jews automatically will have a share in the age to come. The correct way is the narrow way, which is a standard of righteousness demanded by the Mosaic Law which now includes accepting Jesus to be the Messianic King.

The second pair is the two trees in Matthew 7:15-20. Ultimately you can’t always tell the righteous and the unrighteous; ultimately you can tell them by the kind of fruit they produce in verse 20, “Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” If it’s a fruitless tree it’s a sign of a false prophet; they may say many things but there’s no fruit involved. They enrich themselves in the “name it and claim it” movement; those who teach wealth and health, they become wealthy because people give assuming that they too will become wealthy and those who give never become wealthy and they enrich those who are propagating a false context. But a fruitful tree are those who attain the true righteousness of the law and live it consistently with their standard and attain those happy things which the Sermon began with.

Now the third pair are the two professions in Matthew 7:21-23. Here he points out that not everybody that says to Him, Lord, Lord, is actually a believer, and often these people use the name of Jesus, but it’s a counterfeit Jesus, and they even accomplish great things but they are for a counterfeit Jesus. Notice what they are able to accomplish for a counterfeit Jesus in these verses. He says three things: number one, they are able to prophesy events which came to pass. Secondly, they cast out demons. And thirdly, they do many mighty works, including works of healings. And yet He will say to them in that day, at the end, “I never knew you,” in verse 23; they were never believers to begin with.

Now what this principle shows for them and also for us today, that the mere existence of supernatural elements does not prove it’s a work of God. The existence of the miraculous does not prove it’s the work of God because Satan can duplicate many of these things. For example, some of the miracles of Moses were duplicated by the Egyptian magicians. Where did they get their power from? Not from God but from Satan. And so when Moses changed water into blood, they did the same thing. If Moses brought frogs up from the dust of the ground, they did the same thing. At that point Egypt did not need any more frogs.

Now the principle is while Satan can duplicate a divine miracle he cannot remove a divine miracle. If the magicians wanted to show superiority they should have removed the frogs that Moses brought up; instead they simply created more frogs that the Egyptians had to suffer from. At that point I suspect the Egyptians were ready to croak themselves. But Satan can duplicate many of these miracles and the test case is not supernatural events; the test case is always the same thing: is what is being said, taught and done consistent with the Word of God. Does it correlate with the written Word of God? The question to ask is what is written and just as the Pharisees were false because their theology contradicted the Mosaic Law and the Scriptures, by the same token other teachings in the church today are false because they do not conform to the Word of God and merely proving things by the supernatural is insufficient.

Then you have the fourth pair, false teachers trusting in (?) manifestations and true teachers trusting consistently with the Word of God. And fourthly, the two builders. He closes the Sermon on the Mount and gives the Jewish people a choice: they can continue building on the Pharisaic interpretation of the Law; that would be building upon a foundation of sand. If they actually build that foundation it will collapse. Or they can build on His interpretation of the Law that will be built upon the foundation of rock. Any structure built on that foundation will [not] (?) collapse. And so in this Sermon He spells out the difference between His interpretation of the rations (?) of the Law in contradistinction to the Pharisaic interpretation. And now the people must make a choice.

g. The Conclusion
Matthew 7:28-8:1

Then the conclusion in verse 28, “And it came to pass, when Jesus ended thee words, the multitudes were astonished at His teaching; because He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” And again, the way the scribes taught you can see it by reading just a few pages of rabbinic writings. Rabbi so and so (?) by such and such this. Rabbi such and such and Rabbi (?) so and so, every rabbi taught on the basis of previous rabbinic authorization. But nowhere here does He quote a rabbi, quote a scribe, quote a Pharisee, He teaches them as one having authority to interpret the Law; as the Messiah gave it, He had that authority.

Now again, as a unit the Sermon on the Mount is the Messiah’s interpretation of the ration (?) of the Law in contradistinction with the Pharisaic interpretation of the rations (?) of the Law. The second results show one more thing; it’s the Messiah’s public rejection of the authority of the oral law in Pharisaism, He now rejects the authority of the law quite publicly. And He will fulfill the Mosaic Law down to every jot and tittle; He has no intention of fulfilling the Pharisaic interpretation of the law.

17. Recognition of Authority in Capernaum
Paragraph 55 – Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10 

Paragraph 55, recognition of His authority in Capernaum: Now here we have an account again of a Gentile, which Matthew gives but Luke in somewhat more detail because of his interest in the Gentile patterns. And the Roman centurion sent the Jewish leaders to Jesus to ask Him for the purpose of healing His servant. A centurion was the officer of 100 men, the actual men under his authority. He finds himself unworthy to approach Jesus himself, he says, look in Luke’s account in verse 6, he says, “I am not worthy,” to go myself, I not worthy for you to come under my roof. And because he was a Gentile, he recognized because he was a Gentile he was unworthy for this situation. And therefore some of the others of the Jews… now normally Jews and Romans just simply did not get along.

Now why are these elders willing to make a beseechment on behalf of the centurion? And we read in Luke’s account, [4] “saying, he is worthy,” notice that the centurion says I am not worthy but Jewish elders confess that he is worthy. And why is he worthy? Two things in Luke 7:5, number one, “he loves our nation.” This centurion was addressing another centurion; this one loved the Jewish people. And secondly, “himself built us our synagogue,” he financed the Capernaum synagogue with his own money. Therefore he will fall under the blessings fastened to the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12:3, “I will bless them that bless you. Later on in the book of Acts 10, for example, there’s another centurion, Cornelius, who also loved the Jewish people and gave alms to the Jewish poor and therefore Cornelius becomes the first Gentile (?) that shares the body of the Messiah, also experiencing the blessing facet of the Abrahamic Covenant. And this centurion here in Capernaum receives that particular blessing.

Now Jesus begins moving on toward his house, that’s when he sends a second messenger, “I am not worthy for you to come under my roof.” Then he adds in Luke 7:8, “For I also am a man set under authority,” because he has officers over him; he also has soldiers under him, he simply has to give a command to any of his hundred soldiers and they will obey his command immediately. And the point is that Jesus did not have to come to the house to heal the servant, He simply has to give the command and therefore the servant will be healed. And what that shows is this centurion’s recognition of who Jesus is. A simple command is all that would be necessary to heal the servant.

And this serves as a preview to a national scale. At the end of Luke 7:9, “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” And what Jesus testifies is that the faith of this Gentile Roman soldier, part of a subjugating army of Israel has shown more faith than a Jewish person has shown so far.

Because of Matthew’s concern for the Kingdom, notice what he adds in Matthew 8:11, “But I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of heaven. [12] But the sons of the kingdom shall be cast forth into the outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And he points out that even when the Kingdom is established, that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be there enjoying the benefits of the Kingdom. As a result, people come from all over the world to sup or to fellowship with the patriarchs. So many Gentiles will be in the Kingdom. But in verse 12 the “sons of the kingdom shall be cast out,” the sons of the Kingdom, of course, are the Jewish people, but merely being sons of the Kingdom does not bring them into the Kingdom, they must be believers. And so many Jewish people will end up being outside the Kingdom while many Gentiles will be inside the Kingdom. And so in Matthew 8:13, “as you have believed so be it done unto you. And the servant was healed in that hour.”

18. Recognition of Authority Throughout the Land
Paragraph 56 – Luke 7:11-17

Now point 18, paragraph 56, the recognition of authority throughout the land. He now comes of the town of Nain, or Niam which is a town in Galilee, almost directly south from Nazareth, across the valley. As He comes He comes to a funeral procession where a mother had lost her only son. And the common (?) context of first century Israel she lost her main means of support; her husband is gone, she has no other children. And the son is responsible for the physical welfare of the mother but now he had passed away. As He approaches the procession He touches the bier which would have been forbidden to someone who was a Levite but He was not a Levite, therefore he could touch the casket. He then orders the son to be raised from the dead. And so we now have a resurrection which occurs with three specific results.

In verse 16 a “fear took hold on all; and they glorified God.” The second result is the recognition that “A great prophet is arisen among us: and, God has visited His people,” the recognition of a divine result here. And then thirdly, “this report went forth concerning Him in the whole of Judea, and the region round about.” And the (?) reputation simply continues to spread. And while the Pharisees themselves are rejecting Him, among the people He still has a rather large following. The conclusion of verse 17 is the conclusion of the people and not the leaders.

I should have given this to you earlier. The three results are: great fear fell upon them who glorified God; secondly, they recognized Him to be merely a prophet, but that was not enough, He’s more than a prophet. By the failing to really come out and conclude His Messianic claims but to recognize Him to be a prophet, they don’t come out and say He’s the Messiah. Again, (?) His reputation spreads even further than it already has.

We have four more paragraphs I want to complete, and I don’t want to go beyond Paragraph 16 once I pick up 51 next week.