The very heart of the good news about Jesus is that God counts as righteous those who believe in Jesus Christ, His Son. In fact, God imputes to us the perfect righteousness of His Son Jesus (I Cor. 5:21). This is wonderfully pictured in John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress where Christian explains this to another traveler. "By laws and ordinances you will not be saved since you came not in by the door. And as for this coat that is on my back, it was given to me by the Lord of the place whither I go; and that, as you say, to cover my nakedness with. And I take it as a token of His kindness to me, for I had nothing but rags before. And besides, thus I comfort myself as I go. Surely, think I, when I come to the gate of the city, the Lord thereof will know me for good, since I have His coat on my back: a coat that He gave me freely in the day that He stripped me of my rags."
Jesus took our sin and gave us His righteousness, freely. It cost Him His life, but it comes to us as a gift by faith. But then what is our relationship with His righteousness practically, on a day-to-day basis? There is a practical righteousness that Jesus demands of a saint and over the next several weeks we will look into that.
For this week, we will look at Jesus' clarifying words about the righteousness of a saint and His first application to our lives, which we actually looked at earlier in the year. So turn to the Sermon on the Mount and read Matthew 5:1-26. We will focus our attention on verses 17-20.
1. Why do you think people listening to Jesus might begin to think that He had come to abolish the Law or the Prophets?
2. Quite to the contrary, Jesus said that He had come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. In what ways did Jesus fulfill the Law and the Prophets?
* In light of what follows in verses 21-48, what do you think Jesus had in mind when He said He had come to fulfill the Law and Prophets?
3. What does this passage (vv. 17-20) reveal about Jesus' understanding of the Scriptures?
4. What does Jesus want to see in us in relationship to the Scriptures (v. 19)?
5. Not all of us are teachers, but in what way do all of us teach?
6. Is there a commandment that you have "relaxed" (NIV "breaks") and teach others to do the same? Explain your answer.
7. The scribes and Pharisees were known for their righteous lives (consider Luke 18:9-12). What do you think Jesus means when He says that if we hope to enter heaven our righteousness must exceed or surpass that of the religious professionals of His day? How can that be?
* See Matthew 23:1-28; Mark 7:1-13; 12:38-40; Luke 11:37-44. What was the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees like?
* What is the relationship between salvation and personal righteousness? (cf., Rom. 1:16-17; 3:19-26; 5:15-17; I John 2:28-29; 3:4-11)
8. In verses 21-48 Jesus illustrates what it looks like to have a righteousness that exceeds the scribes and Pharisees. We have looked at verses 21-26 earlier this year. How is Jesus "fulfilling" the commandment against murder in this passage?
9. How do you explain the change in verse 23? Jesus shifts from warning us about our attitudes and angry behavior to reconciling with someone we have offended. What is the connection?
10. Does the Lord's message on murder, anger and reconciliation address you in any specific way? If so, how?
11. How might Jesus' interpretation and application of the commandment not to murder be one of the expressions His light shining through us and of our good works that glorify our Father in heaven (5:14-16)? How is this behavior counter-cultural?
12. What do you think the Lord would like you to take away from this meditation on His Word?
Hope to see you on Sunday! God be with you,