The Lord Jesus says in Matthew 5:17-20, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

The Sermon on the Mount is found in Matthew chapters 5-7. This sermon was delivered to the Lord’s disciples, not to unbelievers. It does not share the way of salvation but the way of proper living for all who claim Christ as their King. It applied to the disciples while the Lord Jesus was here on Earth. It applies today while the King is ruling from heaven. It will also apply during the Tribulation and when Christ reigns on Earth for a thousand years.

In Matthew 5:17-18, the Lord Jesus states that He came to fulfill the law of Moses. At Christ’s baptism in Matthew 3:17, the Father showed His approval of the Son by saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The Lord Jesus Christ was the first person to perfectly keep the law. He was “a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19) that the law required. Not one jot or tittle would pass from the law until it was all fulfilled. A jot, or ‘yodh’, is the tenth and smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet, and looks like an apostrophe. A jot, or ‘iota’, is also the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet, and figuratively means a very small part of anything. A tittle is a small mark that distinguishes one letter from another, such as the line at the bottom of the letter E that distinguishes it from the letter F. In other words, Christ perfectly fulfilled every tiny detail of the law.

In Matthew 5:19 Christ says that those who keep and teach the commandments of the law will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven but those who break even one commandment and teach others will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. Again, these verses are not describing the way of salvation. They are talking about behavior in the kingdom of heaven and recognition for faithfulness to God’s perfect standard. In verse 20 the Lord Jesus states that someone cannot enter the kingdom of heaven unless they are more righteous than the scribes and Pharisees. These religious leaders were outwardly pious but inwardly wicked. As Christ said in Matthew 23:25, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.”

Since Christ has fulfilled the law, we know that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Romans 10:4). The law was our enemy since we could not keep it in our own strength. However, we see what Christ did it for us in Colossians 2:14. “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross.” All praise to the Lord Jesus Christ for fulfilling the law so that it could be taken away. As we read in Romans 6:14, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” We have been set free to serve the Lord in a way that surpasses the law. For example, instead of merely not stealing, we can give to those in need. As we read in Ephesians 4:28, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” May we experience the liberty of not being under the law but through the power of the Holy Spirit exceed the demands of the law as we joyfully serve our Savior King, the Lord Jesus Christ. (260.6) (DJ)