Let’s give a hand for our worship team one more time. Great job, as always. This morning, we’re going to start with a verse. My name is Tony, for those of you don’t know me. We’re going to look at Matthew Chapter five verse 17 and just dive right in. This is Matthew, Chapter five verse 17. And we’ll wrap it all together. Do not think that I’ve come to abolish the law or the prophets. This is Jesus speaking.
I’ve not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. 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. Therefore, anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commandments and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven by whatever practices and teaches these commandments and will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Each week we unpack a verse or a section of scriptures that’s found in this book that we call the Bible, which really is not so much a book, but more a collection of writings, a library, if you would, of scriptures. And in this book that we study in the Bible, there are all sorts of writings. There are stories and and poetry, and there are biographical accounts and legal codes and genealogies and words of wisdom. Those are some some one liners that are shocking to the soul.
There are prophecies. There are a few letters, there are theological essays. There are four biographies, biographical accounts of Jesus of Nazareth. There’s a whole bunch about life after death. And there’s actually a whole lot more about life before death, this library, this collection of scripture written by dozens of authors over a period of a thousand plus years. And you could just think about it for a moment. The earliest parts of the writing of the Bible Genesis were an oral tradition well before Abraham was even born.
And the latest parts of the Bible, the stuff written all the way in the first century, are like a decade after Jesus’s death and resurrection, thousands of years apart. And this collection of writings are written in another time and another place and another language and to a whole other cultural reference. And yet two millennia later, we have it in our laps, have it in our phones. We read it every day. We build our lives around it.
Why? Why do we read it? Why do we care about it? Why is it the best selling book of all time? According to Guinness Book of World Records, about five billion copies of the Bible have been sold. What is it about the Bible that makes us keep coming back to it? Why do we want to keep rediscovering rereading it? Keep learning from it? What about it makes it such a core part of our lives today.
And certainly you can answer that question in lots of different ways. But I would I would venture to say that that maybe the I would argue I guess that maybe it’s because at its core, the book that we call the Bible is a book about the human condition. Everything about who we are is in there. We have stories and talk. And there’s talk about love and hate and war. We learn about the futility of violence. We understand the value of grace and the dehumanizing, dehumanizing nature of sin and injustice.
We learn what happens when the church gets entangled with the empire. We read about trauma and about healing. We learn about the vision for the future and meaning and purpose in life. And we were taught about morality, sex, greed, idolatry, laziness and pride. We’re taught how to discipline our children. We’re taught how to discipline our toddlers. We’re taught how to get mold out of our house. That’s really something in there. We learn, we learn about the end of the world and everything in between how to deal with doubt, unbelief, faith, doctrine, dogma, all of those things are addressed.
And so as we gather every single day, every single week, we come back to this same text and we unpack it and we examine it and we look at it because we believe there’s something valuable in it. But really today, in our lot, in our culture, we are in a bit of an inflection point, certainly in the history of the church. And I would say in the history of the West entirely, where there’s a growing number of people, if they’re honest and maybe even you’re part of this camp, no judgment here, but there’s a growing number of people that have a bit of a problem with the Bible.
They don’t mind coming to listen to a motivational speech. They don’t mind listening to kind of Tony Robbins meets Joel Osteen or whatever. But they have a real problem with the book, that fundamentally teaches us what we’re learning about every single week. And maybe it’s because it’s come out of style for people to read it, maybe because it’s become a little bit boring, maybe it’s because some of this stuff is really weird or people don’t understand it or people do understand it for the most part, but they take issue with it.
And look, I’m I’m kind of I understand that because the Old Testament in particular is a little bit gnarly. Right. This is bizarre. There’s violence and war and adultery and all sorts of things. And there seems to be the need, however, for some people in the Christian world to feel like they have to protect Christianity from the words of God. One famous preacher that I really admire and I respect feeling the pressure of having to explain the scriptures said something I totally disagree with.
He talks about this whole idea of unhitching the Old Testament from the new. Saying that Christianity has to get away from the new from the Old Testament, that the Old Testament is actually a hindrance for people to coming to God. And this is what he said. It’s it’s this is a quote from him. He says, Unhitching the Old Testament from the new is liberating for men and women who are drawn to the simple message that God loves you so much.
He sent his son to pave the way to a relationship with you. It’s liberating for people who need and understand grace, who need and understand forgiveness. And it’s liberating for people who find it virtually impossible to embrace the dynamics, the worldview and the value system depicted in the story of ancient Israel. This is a pastor of a large American church who’s written books that many of us have read that I admire again, a great deal. But the sentiment that he said here is really the sentiment of the religious world.
How do we teach the Bible that only includes God sent his only son to have a relationship with you? How do we teach the Bible in such a way where we push aside the difficult stuff and really embrace love and liberty and grace and all those other things? And really what we find here, again, is an inflection point. But I would actually take it a step further. I would say that the church is in a cultural battle. It’s a culture war of sorts.
And the subject of the war is the Bible. All that to say that what we just read in Matthew, Chapter five verse 17, I believe might be the most important thing for us to hold on to in this cultural moment, because in Matthew, Chapter five verse 17, essentially what we get is Jesus’s take on the Bible. What does Jesus think of the scriptures? What does Jesus something that someone we all like would want to admire and follow suit?
Even if you’re not religious, you like all about Jesus. What does Jesus have to say about God’s word as a whole? So what we’re going to do is unpack this passage. We’re going to go line by line, by line by line. We’ll hit the whole thing. I’ll come back, tell you what we’re doing for the summer, and then I’ll circle back and we’ll wrap up the whole sermon. Are you guys with me? All right, Matthew, chapter five verse seventeen.
Do not think that I’ve come to abolish the law and the prophets, the law and the prophets. OK, you can kind of understand what this is talking about. In Jesus’s day there was no Old Testament the way we understand it, and there was no Bible the way you understand it, because the Bible was not kind of bound in this book. It didn’t exist the way that we talk about it now. Instead, it was in scrolls primarily they were in the synagogue.
So if you wanted to read the Bible, you would have to go to a synagogue and get a scroll. And really, you couldn’t read it anyway because more than likely you couldn’t read. And more than likely they wouldn’t give you the scroll because there were very delicate, very precious. So we didn’t have the Old Testament, the way we do what we talk about it now. Instead, they had the law and the prophets, the Old Testament in these scrolls.
And so the law and the prophets became a very easy euphemism for the entirety of the Old Testament, the law and the prophets, the law or in Hebrew, the Torah or the first five books of the Bible, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus numbers, Deuteronomy. The prophets are the next category, which is all of the prophets, plus all the history writings. So if you look in your little index, you’ll see all the history books, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, all that stuff, and then all of the prophets.
Right, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, so on and so forth. And then the third category of writings in the Bible that are called Hebrew wisdom, literature, psalms, prophet, sorry, sorry, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and all that other stuff. So you put all that together and you get the Old Testament. But in Jesus’s day, they would have called that the law and the prophets or the writings. And so what does he say?
I did not I did not come to abolish the law and the prophets. I have not come to abolish them. Two times in the text he uses the same word, this Greek word, katanaio, which means the definition of it, you could find it like a Greek lexicon is, is to dissolve, to dis unite, to destroy, to dismantle, to overthrow or to subvert. What is he saying? It’s the same word actually used in Matthew Chapter twenty four when Jesus talks about the destruction of the temple.
Here’s a little backstory. Jesus’s thoughts were so radical that people thought he came to destroy the Bible. His viewpoint was so intense that Jesus needed to clarify. Hey, I’m here not to get rid of this word. This word is still intact. Then he says this. I’ve not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. This is a little bit of a twist. It’s a little bit of a surprise. Like what’s the opposite of destroying them?
Probably leaving them alone. Right. I came to leave them alone. I came to keep the status quo. When when the when the Sadducees and the Pharisees probably heard that first line, they thought, wow, you know what? He came to leave the word alone. Oh, awesome. He’s like, I didn’t come to destroy them. I actually came to fulfill them. Fullfil means to carry into effect, to bring to a resolution. Jesus is saying, I came to finish what the law and the prophets started.
I’ve come to bring a resolution. Then it goes on and says this very truly, I tell you, and this is like a little catch phrase, Jesus in the book of Matthew alone uses this catch phrase thirty times. Truly, I tell you, until heaven and earth disappears, that means it’s like the end of the world comes, you know, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen will by any means disappear from the law until everything is accomplished.
When I have a text, I often try to work it out by reading a whole bunch of different versions, like I’m trying to grab every version I can just kind of explain what the versions say, rather read the versions so that it can help me understand what the text is trying to say. And so here are a couple of versions that I found helpful. This is the literal Bible. It says not even one iota. I like that, nor one stroke of a letter shall pass away from the law until everything should happen.
This is the King James. This is the best one one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law. I don’t know what a jot or tittle is, but I just think that’s so fun a jot or tittle till all is fulfilled. That’s actually not super helpful. But here is maybe the most helpful one is the Aramaic Bible in plain English and it says this one Yodh or one Taag will not pass away from from the written law until everything will happen.
I read this and and I thought to myself, what in the world is one Yodh or oneTaag? But can I tell you what I found? It’s kind of cool. Can I tell you what I found? Thank you. OK, it’s almost like yes of course. OK, I have no choice anyway. So I was going to show you no matter what you say. So, so this word yodh and this word taag or the words translated as the least stroke of a pen are actually really interesting.
So a yodh is let’s see if this works. It doesn’t work. Kind of works. No. All right. Is number ten, do you see on the top left hand corner, you see number ten. That is the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet. It’s pretty cool. So he’s like he’s like this little apostrophe. Not not even the little apostrophe from the law is taken away. Not even a comma is going to go away. That’s the thought here.
And then he says this. He doubled down and he says, a taag! OK, this is a tag this. Do you see the little top three little flare things? This is the same letter as number three, see number three, Gimel or Gimel or whatever it is. And then that’s what the little three lines, those are tags, those little flare, they’re decorative designs. So Jesus is saying he’s like, you know, those little decorative letters.
I’m not even getting rid of those. The Bible, down to its smallest detail, will always be relevant. The Bible, down to its smallest decorative detail, will always have a place in the life of someone who was hoping to follow him. The Bible and every little iota, every little dash, every little dot, every little comma, every word has purpose and meaning and is still relevant for today. Isn’t that awesome? Jesus is saying there’s all this value until everything is accomplished.
And you can imagine if you’re sitting there, that hill on the hill that day listening to Jesus teaching and the brackish water from the Sea of Galilee is blowing in your face. You’re thinking to yourself until what is accomplished?Jesus is making a really important observation that we’re going to see in just a second. But he’s trying to make a point that everything in the Old Testament is pointing towards something greater. Every line, every comma, every word. The story is drawing, drawing towards something greater.
Something is coming. Something is coming. And if you’re familiar with the scriptures, you know that Jesus is actually going to bring about the concept of an ethic, multiethnic, multinational people of God called the Kingdom of Heaven or the kingdom of God. It’s not enough time to talk about that right now. But basically, God is bringing the story of the Bible to its completion. Every detail is important. This is why the next line is just so good.
Listen to what Jesus says. Therefore, because everything is coming to an end and every word is important. Therefore, anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commandments, anybody who relaxes it, who loosens it up, anybody who goes, you know, who cares. That’s for Moses in the Old Testament that no one no one cares about that. Anybody who sets aside what’s going to happen, he says, and teaches them a teaches others accordingly will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven.
What’s the teaching? Well, there is a reciprocal relationship between how you treat the Bible and your experience in the Kingdom of God. Whoa, if you disregard the scriptures, if you go, you know, that’s not important. That’s not relevant. That has no meaning in my life today. That’s not that’s not enough to kind of fix my life. I need to go elsewhere to really find the truth, know all that stuff. If you have a mindset that says that the Bible isn’t sufficient or that the Bible isn’t an authority, you are least in the kingdom of heaven.
Those are Jesus’s words, talking about the scriptures, the Old Testament scriptures. But then there’s the flip side. Whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Anyone who embraces it, who learns from it, who understands it, who puts into practice the teachings of God, really taking it seriously. You will be great in the kingdom of heaven. Quick summary. Just to kind of like bring it all together. What is he saying?
Don’t think that he came to get rid of the Bible. Don’t think that Jesus coming means you don’t care about the Old Testament. Don’t think his coming means you disregard the teachings of God. For millennia. He didn’t come to destroy it. He came to bring it to a climax and the Bible down to the smallest detail. The cross of a t the dot of a of an eye is important and still should influence on the life of a Christian or the life of a follower until the end of the universe.
Instead, right, everything in the Old Testament is coming and pointing towards something greater. And to reiterate the concept, God’s treatment of you will mirror and mimic your treatment of the Bible. If you explain it away, if you ignore it, if you do some gymnastics to try to figure out, to make sure, OK, this text says this and that, God doesn’t mean that. And this is what that means so that you can disregard some other thing in the scripture, you will relegate yourself to the margins of the Kingdom of God.
But if you take it seriously, if you set it as a foundation for your life, it will transform you and you will grow and mature into someone great in the kingdom of God. So what do we see in this text? We see three attitudes of Jesus that is asking for all of us to have. One, his attitudes that the Bible is scripture, meaning it’s from God’s mouth, it’s divine wisdom, it’s not passé. It’s not gone out by the wayside because of some modern interpretation.
It is still scripture. Two, the story is pointing to something greater, so as you interpret it, you have to interpret it through the lens of Jesus. And three, because of that, every single detail is valuable. That’s what he understood. The asked us to understand it the same way. So let me take a little break and we’ll tell you about what we’re doing for the summer. And I’ll come back and kind of wrap it all together.
So for the rest of the summer, for the next seven weeks or so, we’re going to be studying out something that you might think is just a jot or a tittle, you know, something that’s just a little dash. You might think it is unimportant or even relevant in the life that you’re living now or whatever. But I think what we’re going to be studying out for the next seven weeks or so is something that’s going to help you gain and understanding and honoring and respect for the scriptures as a whole.
Over the next seven weeks, we’re going to study out the holy days of the Bible, the feasts that God gave his people on Mount Sinai. And each one of them will be an example for us, sort of a case study, if you will. First, it’s going to train us or teach us to see the Old Testament that it was pointing towards something greater. Each of these feasts is going to go, wow, that’s pointing towards something greater.
We’re going to see it in the person of Jesus, in the community of the church. And the second thing is it’s going to train us to value every detail of scripture. That’s the goal, to care for it, to learn to practice the scriptures. So we’re going to work through each of these basically every single week. You’re going to come and learn about one of the feasts and it’s going to be awesome. And hopefully you’ll learn to value the scriptures the way Jesus asks you to value them.
And so there’s a couple of things that are important to note. First off is that the summer this summer, I’m going to be taking a break from preaching, which is good and also kind of bittersweet for me. Preaching is hard, but I love preaching. I love preaching, but I need to refill myself so I can bring you whatever. I got a lot of the stuff. I think you guys, a lot of the things I preach come from things I’ve read and things I’ve heard and things I’ve studied and all that stuff.
But it’s but it’s a it’s a labor of love, certainly, to come up every single week with kind of like a research paper. So so I’m going to take some time to refill myself while I’m also doing that. I’m also going to be working on the redesign for a community groups. I’m super excited about that as well. And then I’ll be back in August to to to come back and preach. But you might ask who’s going to preach during the summer?
Well, we thank you, dad, that we are lucky because we have some amazingly talented people in this church. Particularly, I’m so excited about the development of our young staff. And so for the weeks during the summer, our young staff members are going to preach here, I want you to give them your heart. You’ve done it for me. You know, you’ve like every single text I’ve ever received as an encouragement has been so important to the development of my preaching.
Every time I get one of the notes from you that says, wow, I found this passage and it really goes with your message. And every time I finish a sermon, I sit down here and you guys come up and say, great job, or maybe I was questioning this or whatever. To me, that’s helped me so much as a young preacher, helped me so much today. And I want you guys, if you could, to give your heart to those guys preaching like you do for me.
If you could, that would be so awesome. The second thing that’s going to be really cool and also Joe is going to teach one and you can give your heart to him, too. But he’s his he’s always up here. And also I have a really, really, really great guest speaker for you lined up. I’m not going to spoil it, but I think it’s going to be really cool. So, yes, our young staff is coming.
It’s going to be awesome. Yeah. Let’s clap for them. And here’s the second thing. Jasan can you bring me the book? And if you hear me, but Jasan can you bring me the book in order to continue to provide the deep like teaching that we value in this church, we have made for you a study guide. This thing is a study guide that will go alongside our series in this book, our daily devotionals, family devotionals, prayer prompts, hymns like journaling, thoughts.
There’s a whole bunch of really cool things here. It’s about one hundred and twenty pages. It is a premium product. We wanted to make it awesome for you guys. So the cost of this book for us is fifteen dollars and thirty eight cents. So how much it cost us to get this what I just learned this week. Perfect bound or something like that. So seventy five weight or whatever. It’s a fifteen dollars and thirty eight cents. So we are going to sell it back to you for fifteen bucks if you would like it, which I hope you get it.
It’s going to be fifteen dollars. If you would not like it because you’re like man I don’t have fifteen dollars. Then you go back and you say hey I don’t have the fifteen bucks and you could just get one. I want everyone to get one because it’s going to really help with the study of the series. OK, amen. I’m going to put this on my side. That’s next couple of weeks. This book is going to be super cool and it’s been so well designed.
Yeah, it’s awesome. Let’s get back to the passage and I’ll wrap things up. Oh, that’s the book. All right. OK, let’s read it again with the context that we learned earlier and with the sense of this kind of culture, cultural battle that’s happening. Listen to Jesus’s words so powerful. Do not think I’ve come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For truly, I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen or by any means disappear from the law until everything is accomplished.
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. Now, before we say before we close, I just want to say this one more time. This teaching, I believe, is so important for the cultural moment that we’re in right now. Brothers and sisters, you may not feel it, but we are in the midst of a crisis in the church, in the west and at its roots it’s a crisis over the Bible. And if you take all of the controversies right, you take everything that’s going on in the world and everything that’s going on even even in the context of the church, you go from the controversy about sexuality, the controversies about gender, the controversies about marriage and divorce, the controversies about gun and violence and military violence, and the nature of race and materialism and greed and the growing inequality between the rich and the poor.
If you take all of these issues, the question we come back to over and over and over and over again is simply this, is the Bible an authority? And is it is it sufficient or here’s another way to ask it. Is the Bible a good enough authority? Good enough isn’t a degrading thought. What I’m saying, is it sufficient? Do you need more or is it enough to interpret everything that’s going on in our world? That’s the question.
And I know in our world right now, we are allergic to that last word, their authority. Ain’t nobody want to talk about authority? But really, that’s the question. Is it authoritative or not? Is it authoritative or not? Is it good enough or not? That’s the question. And look, let me ask it a different way. Is the highest authority in life your own happiness, your own self-expression, your own or some sociologists or some psychologists is the highest authority in life human beings thought about life or is it God’s thought about life? That’s really the question. Have we become so enlightened that we can push aside this ancient text? Is it no longer of any service or are we dust born people or we created beings who worship a God who as the scriptures they thought are higher than our thoughts and his ways are higher than our ways. And because, again, more and more, this idea of living under your authority, especially under the authority of an ancient book, is kind of absurd to people.
We have found ourselves in a pivotal moment. I want to ask you the question that Joseph asked the people of Israel, rather, as Joshua asked the people of Israel to gather them. I want to ask you to choose this day, choose this day. What will be the authority of your life? Will it be the written word of God or will it be your own personal happiness or some outside source? That’s really the question, guys, if you want to boil it all down, it’s either a you’re A created thing or B, you are the creator of all things. You choose, you choose.
And look, if this is too hard for you, if you’re like, wow, this is really challenging. I just want to let you know it is challenging. It’s challenging. Are you going to submit yourself to the Bible? Are you going to or are you not going to? That’s really the question. Is God going to be formed in your image or your own opinions or your own thoughts, or is God going to be formed in the opinion?
Are God going to be formed out of the context of the scriptures that we’re going to learn from them? Really? That’s the question. And you might ask, why does this why why are you talking about this before the series about feasts? I just want you to know that this has everything to do with why we’re talking about the feasts, because I believe the feast study will have zero impact on you unless you have the mindset of Jesus. The Bible is scripture.
Is the Bible scripture? Is it God’s word in your life? Is it the words of the living God? The story is pointing towards something greater, something beautiful is happening. And so every detail is valuable. If you have this opinion, man, this study is going to be amazing. But if you don’t want to ask, you choose this day, choose this day. What will the authority be in your lives? Be it your word or God’s word?
The summer is going to be a blast. This book is incredible. I hope that you get as much value out of it as as we have already. Just looking at the very beginning of it. I hope that we will continue to reorient our lives and our conviction around the very words of God. Let’s pray for our communion. Father in John, chapter one you say that your son is the word. How cool is that, Lord, that you would send your word that was created before all things to be for us and to be with us.
God, I pray, really, Lord, that we will have a moment that defines us where we can look back at the scriptures and go, OK, I’m going to recommit my life around the idea of the Scriptures, not what I think about the scriptures, but the Scriptures. God, I pray that that will be our heart. And I know, Lord, that that some of this feels intense. But Lord Jesus’s words are intense about this.
Our greatness will determine whether or not we think the scriptures are great God. And I pray that that’s really our heart and that’s really my heart. I pray today, Lord, that I will have a new sense of reverence for the scriptures, that I will look at them as the supreme authority in my life. God, I thank you for Jesus. I thank you that he would come and he would teach us how to understand the scriptures, that he would teach us how to live the life of a disciple, who would teach us how to be human beings.
I thank you that he died in the tree for us that he poured out his blood and he broke his body so that we could have life, God, to pray for the blood that’s poured and the and the bread that’s broken today as we take communion that will remember him and we’ll never forget his sacrifice. You are king forever. You live eternally lifted up in our minds and in our hearts. Father, you are our God and our Lord in his name.
We pray. Amen.