Thursday, August 11, 2022
By Larissa Lee, Journey Church Member and Host Team Volunteer
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.
Jesus starts off this section of his sermon with what sounds like an impossible demand: “Unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!” How are we supposed to accomplish that?!
The teachers of the law dedicated their whole lives to keeping every tiny detail of the law. It had gotten to the point where the law of God – which had been given to bring life – was now an enormous burden on people. And even though it was early in Jesus’ ministry, people were already hoping that Jesus was teaching a new way – a way that would destroy the law and their obligation to it.
People still hope that this is what Jesus is about. “You can ditch morality and its burdens. Just love, that is enough…” Yet Jesus made it clear that he didn’t come to destroy the law but to fill up what was lacking in our understanding of it. He came to accomplish what was originally intended when the law was first given – a new way of living.
Where the religious teachers of Jesus’ time had hoped that keeping the letter of the law was enough, Jesus drills down to the heart of the law. Where they thought it was sufficient to not murder, or commit adultry, or get divorced…where they thought the law permitted them to take revenge and hate their enemies…Jesus came to teach and show us something better.
The bottom line is that God is after our hearts, not just our behaviors. Until we experience the life-giving opportunity that Jesus offers us and lean into His way of doing things, we miss the Kingdom of Jesus. The Kingdom isn’t about making sure we look good on the outside by following all the rules. It’s about being transformed on the inside so that obedience to the law flows naturally out of right motivation.
The Kingdom is…“We don’t murder because Jesus empowers us to release anger and to do the work of reconciliation.” The Kingdom is…“We don’t commit adultery because Jesus helps us to see every person the way he sees them – with dignity and love, never objectifying them as a thing to be used.” Jesus didn’t come to destroy the law. He came to work it out in our hearts. He came to show us the better, Kingdom-way, of doing things.
Pray for God to help you to learn his way of doing things. A way that sets you free from rule-following, and that gives you his Spirit to lead you into a transformed life. God wants to show you his heart in the law and give you the power to let it guide you.
Daily Prayer Initiatives
- Jesus to change more lives as we double the square footage of our Castle Pines location.
- Momentum as we launch our Highlands Ranch location.
- Someone you can invite to Journey on Friend Day (Sunday, September 11)
- One bold prayer you sense God is personally inviting you to pray during the 21 Days.
Get to a place where you can focus and read the daily Scripture passage several times. From the passage of Scripture you read, highlight one or two verses that stick out. Write them down, and even consider rewriting the verse(s) in your own words.
Make some basic observations about the scripture you just read by asking these questions:
- Why was this written?
- To whom was it originally written?
- What is the author trying to communicate?
- What does the Scripture passage teach me about God and humanity?
After taking some time explaining the highlighted scriptures, begin to think about how they apply to your life. Ask yourself these questions and spend some time writing down your thoughts:
- What do these verses mean today?
- What does this verse(s) mean for my life?
- How does this verse challenge my thinking and actions?
- What changes do I need to make in my life as a result of this passage of Scripture?
Your response to the passage may take on many forms. You may write a call to action. You may describe how you will be different because of what God has said to you through the Bible verses. You may indicate what you are going to do because of what you learned. You may respond by writing out a prayer to God. For example, you may ask God to help you to be more loving, or to give you a desire to be more generous in your giving. Keep in mind that this is your response to what you have just read.