The King Has Come!

English: Folio 4, beginning of the Gospel of M...

English: Folio 4, beginning of the Gospel of Matthew (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Good morning, friends. Did you see this weekend’s edition of the Independent? On the front page, we learn that Princess Anne will visit Vanuatu next month. That’s right, her royal highness Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth is coming for a visit.It is always a special event when any member of the Royal Family visits another country. But I’ve got even bigger news: the King is coming! The King? Yes, THE King! I’ve got the inside scoop.

The King Has Come!

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When we finish reading the Old Testament and turn to the first pages of the New Testament, it is clear that something is up. The emphasis of the New Testament is not on the law. Rather it is on fulfillment and the kingdom of God. There is an emphasis on a new beginning. The Gospel according to Mark opens with these words:

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Mark 1:1 ESV).

Luke speaks of those “who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word” (Luke 1:2).

Matthew begins his Gospel with the simple words, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” The genealogy of Christ is traced back to King David who mentioned six times in the first chapter of Matthew. This way Matthew points to Jesus Christ as the one who is the fulfillment of Old Testament aspirations and hopes. He shows that Jesus is the son of David — the many times great grandson of King David who would reign forever.

In Matthew 2, the emphasis on Christ as King continues. Wise men from the east came to Jerusalem asking, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?” (2:1-2).

Matthew 3 opens with the message of John the Baptist: you must prepare the way for the King: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (3:2).

In Matthew 4, King Jesus arrives and preaches the gospel of the kingdom. John the Baptist is arrested.

Matthew 4:17 ESV From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew 4:23 ESV And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

The Sermon on the Mount

When we arrive in Matthew 5, we find the first recorded sermon of Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount.

He begins with the “Beatitudes”, a description of those who are blessed. Eight beatitudes beginning and ending with the promise of the kingdom:

Matthew 5:3-10 NLT “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
4 God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.
7 God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

Where is the law in all that? In these Beatitudes, Jesus has focused on the blessings of the Kingdom. He has promised the Kingdom to those whose hearts are pure toward God. To this point in the Gospel of Matthew, the law has not been mentioned one time. Is it possible to be blessed by God without the law? Look at the experience of some of the Old Testament saints:

  • Enoch walked with God 1,500 years before God gave the law (Genesis 5:22).
  • Noah found favor with God 1,000 years before the law was given (Genesis 6:8).
  • Abraham was a friend of God 430 years before the law was given (Genesis 12; James 2:23).

These men were blessed of God. Abraham simply believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness.

Jesus does not mention the law in these beatitudes. He talks about the kind of people that God blesses: humble, hungry, meek, mournful, merciful, pure, peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness. He then talks about rejoicing, about a great reward in heaven, about being the salt of the earth and the light of the world, but he has not mentioned the law.

It is only then in verse 17 that he brings up the law:

Matthew 5:17 ESV “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.

Why did he say that? Did some think that he had come to abolish the Law and the Prophets? He astonished the people by speaking as one having authority. He would say things like, “You have heard it said, but I say to you.” It seems that some were wondering if he had come to abolish the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 5:17 NLT “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.

Let us just note in passing that Jesus did come on a mission. He came from heaven and he came with a specific purpose, but he tells us here that he has not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets: “I have not come,” he says, “to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

Notice what Jesus did not say. Jesus did not say, “I have not come to abolish them, but to preserve them unchanged.” Jesus used a word that means that he came to show the true or complete meaning of the law. He did not come to destroy the law. He did not come to preserve the law. He came to fulfill its purpose.

The Theme of Fulfillment

This theme of fulfillment is seen from the opening of the New Testament.

  1. In Matthew 1, the first chapter of the New Testament, we read that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary to fulfill what Isaiah the prophet had prophesied 700 before (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:22-23).
  2. In Matthew 2, we read that he was born in Bethlehem to fulfill the prophecy of Micah, again 700 years before Christ (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:5-6).
  3. Joseph and Mary took baby Jesus to Egypt that the prophecy of Hosea eight centuries before Christ (cf. Hosea 2:15; 11:1; Matthew 2:15).
  4. King Herod’s slaughter of all the male children of Bethlehem under two years of age fulfilled Jeremiah’s prophecy 600 years before Christ (Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:17).
  5. Joseph and Mary settled in Nazareth fulfilling the prophecies that Christ would be called a Nazarene (Matthew 2:23).

Matthew shows us five times in his first two chapters show that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament. This theme continues through Matthew and much of the rest of the New Testament.

In Matthew chapter 3, we see John the Baptist fulfilling the prophecies of Isaiah and Malachi that he would be the forerunner announcing the coming of Christ (Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6). That by the way is something that no other religious leader ever had. No other religious leader ever had a forerunner. 700 years before Christ came, it was prophesied that Christ would have a forerunner, and that forerunner pointed to Christ and said, “It’s not me, but him that you must listen to! He’s the one!”

  • Muhammed had no forerunner.
  • Joseph Smith had no forerunner.
  • Ellen G. White had no forerunner.

No prophet of God every prophesied that they would come. No one came before them saying, “Someone is coming after me who will show you the way to God.” These so-called prophets were not announced beforehand. They proclaimed themselves as prophets. None of them had a John the Baptist. None of them were prophesied in the Scriptures. John the Baptist fulfilled the prophecies of Isaiah and Malachi when he preached that one was coming after him and then by pointing to Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.

Again Jesus fulfilled prophecy in moving to Capernaum (Isaiah 9:1-2; Matthew 4:13-16).

But in all these references, there is not yet any reference to the law. So we have to ask ourselves what role the law played in the New Testament.

Until

Jesus said that he had come to fulfill the purpose of the law. Then Jesus said something even more astounding in the next verse:

Matthew 5:18 ESV For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

The word “until” implies that heaven and earth will pass away: “until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear…” (NLT). Jesus tells us that heaven and earth will pass away. The prophet Isaiah had prophesied that there would be a new heaven and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22). The Apostle Peter tells us that the heavens will melt with a fervent heat and there will be new heavens and a new earth (2 Peter 3:14-16). The Apostle John also writes of a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1).

Jesus says in…

Matthew 24:35 ESV Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

So Jesus is telling us that fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets is more certain than the universe itself. But notice how he says this in the NIV. Jesus uses the adverb “until” two times:

Matthew 5:18 NIVO I tell you the truth, 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.
New English Translation: “until everything takes place.”
MacDonald Idiomatic Translation: “until every aspect is fulfilled.”
New Living Translation: “until its purpose is achieved.”

Jesus implies that heaven and earth will pass away, but that nothing will pass away from the Law until its purpose is achieved. Again, the word “until”, used twice, implies that heaven and earth will pass away, and that once the Law’s purpose is achieved, the law will pass away.

Matthew 5:18 NLT …not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.

Now the big question is, “When will the Law’s purpose be achieved?” Jesus already told us in the previous verse:

Matthew 5:17 NLT “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.

Now let’s read verses 17 and 18 together in the New Living Translation:

Matthew 5:17-18 NLT “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.

Very simply, Jesus implies that three things will happen:

  1. Everything in the Law will be accomplished.
  2. The Law will pass away.
  3. Heaven and earth will pass away.

What does Jesus mean? He means that the purpose of the Law was to point to him. He came and fulfilled in every detail the Law. The law would not pass away until its purpose was achieved. The purpose of the Law has thus been achieved in Christ.

The Purpose of the Law and the Prophets Was to Point to Christ

On the day of His resurrection, Christ joined two disciples who were walking to Emmaus.

Luke 24:27 NLT Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
Luke 24:32 NLT They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”

Later that day, he appeared to the other disciples in the upper room and said,

Luke 24:44-45 NLT “…When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.

The Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms were all fulfilled in Christ.

Jesus and the Law

The question is not so much the relation of Jesus to the law, but the relation of the law to Jesus. In other words, from a biblical prospective, the main thing is not the law, but Jesus Christ.

That helps us to understand why the first reference to law in the New Testament is not found until Matthew 5:17, not until the fifth chapter of Matthew, and we will see that the first time that the law is mentioned in the New Testament, we learn that it will soon pass away.

Instead of putting the emphasis on the law, the writers of the New Testament put the emphasis on Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the law and the prophets, and on the gospel of the kingdom.

MUSIC: HEAR THE CALL OF THE KINGDOM (3:55)

The Message of Jesus

So let’s look at the preaching of John the Baptist and of Jesus. We might think that the message of the New Testament would be the same as that of the Old Testament. But instead preaching the law, the message of the New Testament is the gospel. As we have seen, Mark begins his gospel with these words:

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Mark 1:1 ESV).

He does not entitle his book “The beginning of the law of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” but “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

In fact, the word “law” is never mentioned in Mark’s gospel.

If they did not preach the law, what did John the Baptist and Jesus preach?

They preached the kingdom of God.

Matthew 3:1-2 NLT In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, 2 “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”

Mark 1:14-15 NLT Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. 15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”

Jesus sent out the twelve telling them, “proclaim as you go, saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:7).

In Matthew 13, Jesus told parables of the kingdom:

  • The kingdom is like a man who sowed good seed…
  • The kingdom is like a grain of mustard seed…
  • The kingdom is like leaven that a woman took and hid…
  • The kingdom is like treasure hidden in a field…
  • The kingdom is like a merchant in search of fine pearls…
  • The kingdom is like a net that was thrown into the sea…

The Good News of the Kingdom of God was the message preached by John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the apostles.

Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom.

After the resurrection and ascension of Christ, the believers preached the kingdom of God.

  • In Acts 8, Philip preached the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:12).
  • In Acts 19 and 20, Paul proclaimed the kingdom of God (Acts 19:8; 20:25).
  • In fact, the last chapter and verse of the Book of Acts tells us that Paul continued to proclaim the kingdom of God and teach about the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 28:23, 31).

You will not find the apostles preaching the law. They did not preach Sabbath-keeping. They preached Christ and him crucified. They preached the good news of the kingdom of God.

The Law Prophesied Until John

Matthew 11:12-13 ESV From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John,

Notice that Matthew 11:13 says that the Law prophesied. This tells us that the purpose of the Law was prophetic. The Law pointed beyond itself. The Law pointed to Christ who would fulfill the Law in every detail: “…all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.”

The Law began with Moses , but with the coming of John the Baptist, there was a transition. Jesus said in Matthew 11:13, “..the Law prophesied until John.” Again in Luke 16:16, we read,

Luke 16:16 ESV “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.

Notice the contrast here between the Law and the good news of the kingdom of God: “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached…”

The power of the kingdom of God is the promised Holy Spirit!

Matthew 12:22-29 ESV Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” 25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.

The message of the New Testament is not the law but the power of Spirit of God.

Matthew 12:28 ESV But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

This was the message of the New Testament church: Christ was the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter preached,

Acts 3:18 NLT But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah– that he must suffer these things.

During his first missionary journey, Paul preached Christ as the fulfillment of the prophets:

Acts 13:27 NLT The people in Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize Jesus as the one the prophets had spoken about. Instead, they condemned him, and in doing this they fulfilled the prophets’ words that are read every Sabbath.

Confusion over the Law

Paul writes to the Galatian churches that he had established on his first missionary journey.

Galatians 1:6-7 ESV I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.

Galatians 2:16 ESV yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

Galatians 2:19-21 ESV For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Galatians

PARENTHESIS OF THE LAW

CHRIST THE PROMISE

3:19

It was added because of transgressions,

until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made

3:23

Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned

until the coming faith would be revealed.

3:24

So then, the law was our guardian until

Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.

3:25

But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,

4:1-2

A child, no different from a slave, is under guardians and managers

until the date set by his father.

4:3-5

In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Matthew 24:14 ESV And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Jesus did not say that the Sabbath would be preached throughout the whole world. He said that the Good News of the Kingdom of God would be preached.

In Romans 7, Paul shows that when we died with Christ on the cross, we died to the Law and were freed from the Law so that we might belong to Christ.

Romans 7:1 ESV Or do you not know, brothers– for I am speaking to those who know the law– that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives?

Romans 7:4 ESV Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.

Romans 7:6 ESV But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

He explains in Romans 8, that the Law was unable to accomplish the purpose of God in our lives because of our sinful nature. But God has done what the Law could not do by sending His Son to break the power of sin in us and by giving us His Spirit:

Romans 8:2-4 ESV For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

The message that we preach is Christ and the Kingdom of God. The Law pointed to Christ. Its function was temporary. Now that Christ has come, we are free from the Law that we might walk in the newness of the Spirit of God.

See also “Seventh Day Adventism”:

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