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Matthew 5:17–20 (NIV)
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 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. 19 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. 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.
1. Christ obeys the law
but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven
If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself. - Augustine
2. Christ fulfills the law
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..
The Old Testament is the Gospel in the bud; the New Testament is the Gospel in full flower. --J.C. Ryle
3. Christ is our righteousness
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. Romans 10:4
Small Group Questions
CONNECT WITH GOD (select one of the below practices to begin your small group time this week or select a practice from a previous week.)
Use the Lenten Card for Reflection
Alone: Using SBPC’s Lenten card, spend 10 minutes engaging with the suggested practice of confessing, remembering, and returning.
Journal for 10 minutes.
Alone: Reflect and journal on the quote below, as it connects to Matthew 5:17-20.
“The believer knows that it is impossible to curry favor with God, because God needs nothing from us. He cannot be put in our debt. Knowing this frees us to obey out of joyful gratitude rather than servile grasping. Imagine telling your child, ‘I know you’ll fail, but here are our house rules. Let me know when you break them so I can extend grace to you.’ We recognize that raising a lawless child is not good for the child, for our family, or for society as a whole. We don’t train our children to obey us so they can gain favor. They already have our favor. We, being evil, train and equip them to obey because it is good and right and safe. And how much more does our heavenly Father love us?” –Jen Wilkin, Following the Call
CONNECT WITH EACH OTHER
- In pairs: Read Matthew 5:17-20. For a whole context, dig into the preceding verses beginning in Matthew 5:1 and the verses that follow in Matthew 5:21-48.
- After you have read, reflect as a whole group on the larger context of the passage. Consider the following questions:
- What’s challenged you as we have dug into this message series?
- How does Matthew 5:17-20 connect to your life right now?
- How does the whole context help you to understand the focus passage (5:17-20) this week?
CONNECT WITH SCRIPTURE (Read the passages and review the sermon outline. Then select the best questions or customize the questions for your group.)
- Read the main points from the sermon outline.
- What questions, observations, or reactions do you have after reflecting on the passage and sermon?
- What are the ‘Law and Prophets’ (v.17) and what’s so important about them?
- What meaning can you draw from the word ‘fulfilled’? How is Jesus the fulfillment of the ‘Law and Prophets’?
- Why do you think Jesus mentions the righteousness of the Pharisees in verse 20?
- Read Jeremiah 31:33-34, 2 Corinthians 5:21, and Romans 10:4. How do these passages connect to and inform Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:17-20.
- Which main point from Sunday’s message challenged you the most?
CONNECT WITH GOD’S MISSION IN THE WORLD
- Read the quote below and discuss how this applies to your life and to the way we live with one another, live in our communities, and in the world?
“When Jesus says, ‘But I say to you…’ he is not contradicting the Old Testament but reiterating and clarifying the original intent of the Law. He surpasses every legality. In other words, Jesus is not issuing new rules or a new moral code but establishing a new relationship between God and his people, and among people.” (Following the Call: Living the Sermon on the Mount Together)
In Galatians 6:2, Paul says: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Spend time in pairs or smaller groups sharing one another’s burdens, praying for one another, and praying for God to be in the midst of your care of one another.
17-18 Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God’s Law or the Prophets. I’m not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama. God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.
19-20 Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom. (The Message)