Technically, the Old Testament is called the Tanakh by Jewish people. This is an acronym of the first Hebrew letter of each of the Masoretic Text’s three traditional subdivisions: Torah (“Teaching”, also known as the Five Books of Moses), Nevi’im (“Prophets”) and Ketuvim (“Writings”)—hence TaNaKh.
Jesus fulfills “the Law and Prophets” (shorthand for the Old Testament) in three ways:
- He perfectly kept the law; He perfectly obeyed the Father on our behalf.
- He perfectly fulfills all the prophecies foretold by the prophets.
- And He perfectly interprets the law. Jesus gives the whole meaning.
There is not one detail of God’s holy law that will be dropped. Pastor Beau illustrated on a big screen:
- the hook that distinguishes between the Hebrew letters, kaph and bet
- the hook that distinguishes between the Greek letters, omicron and sigma
- the extended line that distinguishes a “c” from an “o”.
- the smallness of the Hebrew letter, yod, and the Greek letter, iota.
Details in the Scripture matter, and not one detail will be left undone. Can we trust the Bible? Absolutely. We trust what Jesus says right here in this text.
Not only does Jesus fulfill the law and prophets, Jesus followers do and teach Torah. Now, we are not going to presently go out to kill and conquer in other lands; but we will seek in Christ, to do and teach His law. And we will be serious, not relaxed, as we treat God’s law with careful obedience. In this text, Jesus basically tells us, “Obey me and you will be great.”
But verse 20 also drives home the spiritual bankruptcy of any attempts by us in seeking to enter the kingdom of heaven by our own righteousness. Pastor Beau urged us all to put our full weight and trust in Jesus. Let His righteousness replace our sin.
My questions related to the ESV text . . .
Observation (questions for the head)
- Jesus came to do what?
- What is an iota (v. 18)?
- “Relaxes” and “teaches” is starkly contrasted to _________ and ________ (v. 19)?
- So before you start teaching the law, what needs to be happening?
- Your righteousness needs to exceed whom before entering the kingdom of heaven (v. 20)?
Interpretation (questions for the head and the heart)
- What is the Law and the Prophets?
- What does it mean to fulfill the Law and Prophets?
- Is any of the Old Testament done away with?
- What do you do with the dietary laws of the Old Testament? The clothing laws? The hair laws? The death penalty by stoning? Animal sacrifices? The various offerings? The priestly hierarchy and specific duties? The special feasts? The special days of worship?
- In light of verse 20, how far does a man or woman have to go for obtaining righteousness and being able to walk through the front gates of the kindom of heaven?
Application (questions for the heart and the hands)
- Do you have a tendency to ignore the Hebrew Bible? If so, why?
- Do you see Jesus in all 39 books of the English Old Testament? Which book might trouble you?
- Do you trust that the Bible has been translated correctly?
- Which of Jesus’ commands are you tempted to relax from taking seriously and obeying in your own life?
- Have you ever taught something from the Bible and yet struggled with following and doing it? What is your remedy to this?
- You might have assurance that you will enter heaven, but do you have any confidence that you will be great in heaven?
- How righteous do you have to be to enter the kingdom of heaven?
- Who will you share with over what you have learned from Jesus?