■■■■■† 화란한인교회에 오신 것을 환영합니다. 암스테르담, 암스텔담, 암스텔빈, 암스텔펜 한인교회 †■■■■■
English Sermon ('19.04.14) Righteousness Exceeding the Scribes
2019-04-15 14:13:25, view [
Righteousness Exceeding the Scribes
17 “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. 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. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. (Matthew 5:17:26)
What is the purpose Jesus came to the world? Did He come to save us? To introduce the kingdom of heaven to us? To teach us how to live? To practise justice? All of them are the right answers, but today let us hear the words that come out of the mouth of Jesus Himself.
This is what Jesus says about the purpose He came to this world. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them (Matt.5:17)” More than anything else, ‘to fulfil the Law’ is the purpose Jesus came to this world.
Then what does it mean ‘to fulfil’ or ‘to perfect’ the Law? Obviously, it would be the opposite of ‘to abolish’ the Law. Actually the Jews of the day also thought that when Messiah came He would remove the Law. Maybe it is only right to think that Jesus came to remove all obligations that suppress us. But, in fact, the purpose of Jesus’ coming is completely the opposite.
Paul said, ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. (1Cor.15:55,56)’ If one has sinned, it is only right that he die for it; on the other hand, if you are to avoid death, there should be neither sin nor the Law that accuses sin as sin.
People who believe in Jesus often say, ‘We do not have to keep the Old Testament Law.’ Even the devout say, ‘the Old Testament Law is all nullified on the cross already.’ Surely there is no reason to kill bulls and sheep as written in the Old Testament, no reason to go up to Jerusalem three times a year to keep the appointed Feasts. No reason for us to avoid port like Jews do; no reason to eat dairy and meet separately either.
In other words, it means ‘the Old Testament Law is no longer effective.’ Or ‘the OT Law has ceased to work as a law that standardises my life as a Christian.’ Breaking the Law is not going to change my status as a Christian. For no one can say it is against the Law if you remarry after your husband dies.
But that was not the reason Jesus came. On the contrary, it is completely the opposite. It does not mean to say He came to establish new clauses that were not there before. Rather, He intends to liven the Law that was only written and had no effect. In other words, the Law will be applied completely and thoroughly even to the extent where we thought it could not be applied before.
As for the Law that said you shall not murder; before you could get away with it, if you did not actually kill anyone. But after Jesus’ coming, even for getting angry, the murder law is going to be applied. Before, things like children’s stealing fruit from other people’s fields for fun were only subject to being scolded and that was it. No one would say they were thieves. But the perfected law is going to apply the theft law onto them.
Read Matt.5:22 carefully. ‘But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.’
When we did not have Jesus, we were free to wear anything we liked. We cut our hair any way we liked. But now that Jesus has come, we have to make tassels on the corners of garments and grow the sideburn longer that the Jews. Who said we have to? It was the very words of Jesus who came to this world. This is how sharply Jesus intends to execute the Law to the extent of being so severe.
Now we are to be tried for just being angry. You will be taken to the council if you slander someone, ‘Idiot!’ You will even go to hell for blaming someone, ‘You fool!’ When you look at a woman lustfully it is already the same as committing adultery. This is the Law that Jesus has perfected when He came to earth.
Therefore Jesus advises us. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”
Is that all? “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”
That fierce sternness! Jesus warns us. “For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
That is why, in a way, after Jesus came, our chance to live a comfortable life is gone. Our spirit can only fall poor, because of the Law that has become razor-sharp. We can only mourn. Why is that? It is because just us breathing becomes sin. However Jesus declares this state rather to be ‘blessed.’
In other words, as said in Matthew 5:20, “ For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” It is already suffocating to see a teacher of the law, but you will have to surpass them to enter the kingdom of heaven. That is probably also the reason why Christians who believe in Jesus are so severe and old-fashioned. Because at the least they have to be better than the Pharisees or the teachers of the law!
Maybe that is why you suddenly feel so suffocated as soon as you arrive at church and get agitated when you meet pastor. Maybe we think it is only normal to live holding our breath. So not only do we press it on ourselves, but in turn also chase others to accomplish the sort of righteousness that exceeds the Pharisees’.
But did Jesus really come to do this? If not, should the long passage we read today from Matthew be removed? To give you the conclusion first, just Jesus said it Jesus Himself, our righteousness has to surpass that of the Pharisees. It definitely has to. Only then we are able to enter the kingdom of heaven.
In Jerusalem, there are people who try to revive the rituals that were in the days of David. They are making provisions to build the 3rd Temple there, training future priests who will serve there when the temple gets built. They archeologically test the vessels and utensils that were in use in the old days and reconstruct them the same way. All kinds of costumes, ornaments, jewels are prepared.
If this business of restoring the temple and the sacrifice system is the sort of righteousness Pharisees and Scribes had, we should certainly strive to exceed it. But could we actually do that? Would you not be doubtful even before you begin? ‘Until whenever should you keep this Law? Until whenever should we repeat these appointed dates? Until whenever should we keep on repenting every detail of our deeds in light of the Scripture?’
Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Then people took off their cloaks and spread them on the street, welcoming Jesus with palm branches in their hands. Did they welcome Jesus because they thought Jesus came to perfect the Law? Or did they welcome Him because they thought He came to abolish the Law?
Peter who was in Jerusalem, opened a hearing after receiving Paul’s report. Gentiles came to believe in Jesus, and the Jews in the council had to discuss whether the converted Gentiles should also keep the law or not. That was the agenda in the Jerusalem Council we know well. ‘Should the Gentiles keep the Sabbath as we do? They said they received Jesus. So shouldn’t we give them this complete and severe Law to keep?’
‘Shouldn’t we teach them sacrament law that they did not know until now, teach them law of the feasts, teach them how to eat, how to dress, various common laws, moral laws, and so forth! To make their righteousness better than the Pharisees and scribes, shouldn’t we perfectly force onto them the Law that Jesus has completed?’ This was their worry.
In the church in Jerusalem, there were believers that came from the party of the Pharisees. They said, ‘The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses (Acts 15:5).’ If there was one more verse after that, it probably would have been, “They have to do more than that! And that is the word of Jesus!”
But Peter concludes in the Council, ‘We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are (Acts 15:11),’ and also said, ‘Why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?’
From the mouth of Jesus’ best disciple came a completely different story from the purpose Jesus came to this world. Jesus has said we can enter the kingdom of heaven only when our righteousness surpasses that of the scribes. But His disciple Peter says we are saved through grace.
Are they two different religions? Peter’s church of Jerusalem and Jesus’ church of Nazareth? Is one Christian and the other Presbyterian? Is it Peter’s rebellion or Jesus’ mistake? Is the Law abolished or perfected? What do you think?
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