Matthew's Book Leader Notes - Session 4
Matthew 5:17-20 This session touches on an important aspect of the Bible – the commands God has given. We need to avoid the extremes of making the commands the most important aspect of our faith (legalism) as well as dismissing them because of God’s grace through Jesus (Jesus, Himself, makes that clear in this passage).
One common mistake people make when trying to obey God’s commands, is starting with their behavior. They think, “If I just try hard enough, I can do what God says to do.” The truth is that we cannot obey God’s commands outside of God’s power in our lives and His transforming work in our heart and mind. When we encounter a command that we are not obeying, our first response should be to ask God to first change our heart and mind. Once our heart and mind have begun to change, our behavior will more naturally follow.
I love verse 20 because it highlights the great gift of God’s grace through Jesus’ death and resurrection on our behalf. The admittance criterion into God’s Kingdom has always been perfectly obeying God’s Law. Without Jesus, that burden falls on us (and I, for one, fall very short of that target!). If people are trying to be good enough to get into heaven, it’s a sure bet they’ve already blown it more than once! Jesus lived that perfect life (this is what Jesus meant in verse 17, when He said that He had come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets) so that He could die for us to pay the penalty our sins incurred.