Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Least or Greatest?

"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."

There is a danger in assuming we can abolish the laws God gave to His people as a means to set them apart, and show the world that He was the one true God. Although we can never measure up to the Law because of our sinful nature, it does not exclude its Intrinsic value as God's perfect standard. As we said, Jesus fulfilled the Law in every way thus validating it true essence. The Law did not have any value any more, Jesus would have clearly taught us this.

So why is Jesus so adamantly against those who set aside these laws and teach others to do so? He called these people, "the least in the kingdom". Notice they are still in the kingdom, they are still saved, but their influence is minimal. Whereas those who practice and teach these commands will be called great in the kingdom. Notice it says those who "practice" and "teach" these commands. Meaning before someone can teach the law, they must practice what they teach.

So we can see that Jesus in no way demeans the Law, or relegates it to being irrelevant. Again we must be crystal clear on this, that the Law doesn't save us. It has no power to save us. It can only show us our need for God. Why? Because the Law is God'a perfect standard. When we fall short of the Law, we call this sin, or separation from God. So the Law shows us the state of our relationship with God, because when we disobey it we are at odds against God.

But why is this so important to Jesus? Let us remember the context of this Gospel. Matthew is the teaching Gospel. Matthew is teaching the Jews that Jesus is the real Messiah. As the Jews trust in Jesus, the tendency might be for them to say "we don't need the Law anymore". They might use their new found freedom to do whatever they please. We see this happening right away in the early church, and in the church today. What does this have to do with our influence in the kingdom?

If God's laws are a reflection of the way God intended things to be, then they are a reflection of the Kingdom. If "kingdom" means where God rules or reigns, then those who disregard the Law of God, would not be operating within the kingdom. As we said yesterday, we are primarily talking about the moral law. For instance, is someone was teaching that adultery or stealing is okay now that they are saved, they would be operating outside of God's kingdom.

As we will see in the upcoming sections of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus will go from the superficial or literal meaning of the Law to understanding its true meaning of it. The literal meaning of the Law is the bare minimum where Jesus will reveal the true Spirit of the Law, which can only be obeyed in the power of the Holy Spirit. More to come!!

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