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Jesus Fulfills the Law

Explore what righteousness means in the Bible and how it applies to Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, and understand what it means to do right by God and others.

Sermon on the Mount Mar 10, 2024


  1. How is the video’s description of righteousness similar to or different from the way you’ve typically understood it?
  2. In your own words, how would you describe the Torah and the Prophets as presented in the video?
  3. How might Jesus’ first audience have understood his claim that he was going to fulfill the story of the Hebrew Bible?
  4. What kinds of attitudes or actions could be seen as "doing right by your neighbor" for Jesus followers today?

Scripture References

Matthew 5-7 Exodus 19-24 Exodus 31:13 Matthew 5:17 Matthew 5:20 Matthew 5:17-20 Matthew 5:17-7:12 Matthew 5:21-32


How To Live Righteously and Get Wisdom [0:00-1:10]

Jon: We're exploring a well-known collection of teachings by Jesus called the Sermon on the Mount.

Tim: Jesus spent most of his time with the poor and insignificant people of his day, and he claimed that God's rescue of the world was beginning through him and them.

Jon: What was God rescuing the world from?

Tim: Well, it's a rescue from the kind of world we've created by our selfishness and our contempt for others that leads to violence, and it's a rescue into communities of wholehearted love and respect. Jesus described this way of life by using an ancient biblical word, righteousness. A righteous person is someone who consistently does right by God and right by others. Jesus said, "Those who live this way are entering the Kingdom of the skies." 1

Jon: Okay, but life is messy. In any given situation, how are we even supposed to know what it means to do right by everyone?

Tim: Yes, that is the question. So remember, Jesus was an Israelite, and the people of Israel had a specific answer to that question that was simple and profound. To do right by God and people, you need to learn God's wisdom.

Jon: And how do you get God's wisdom?

The Torah and Prophets [1:10-2:18]

Tim: Well, for Israelites, you find God's wisdom by meditating on their Scriptures, called the Torah and Prophets.

Jon: The Torah. That's the first five books of the Bible.

Tim: Right. In Hebrew, torah means teaching, though it's often translated in our Bibles as the law. 2

Jon: But these books aren't just laws.

Tim: Right. The Torah is a story about God's plan to partner with humans in ruling the world. And when humans ruin that partnership through stupidity and violence, God begins a rescue plan. First by choosing and then rescuing the Israelites, and then by inviting them into a covenant relationship. 3

Jon: Right. The story of Moses on Mount Sinai, that's where they get all these commands to live by. 4

Tim: Yeah. Now, after the Torah come the Prophets, who continue the story. They show how Israel failed to live by God’s wisdom by violating those commands, 5 but they also wrote poetry about how that failure was not the end of the story. 6 God was going to bring this partnership to its fulfillment. And for Jesus and his people, the Torah and Prophets, they reveal God’s wisdom to anyone who will meditate on them day and night. 7

Finding God’s Wisdom in the Torah and Prophets [2:18-3:23]

Jon: Okay, but let's go back to all those commands. How do you find God's wisdom in an ancient law code?

Tim: Yeah, totally. The laws in the Torah were ancient even to Jesus, given centuries earlier when the Israelites could live free on their own land. But in the time of Jesus, they were occupied by the Romans. They couldn't even follow many of the laws as originally stated.

Jon: Okay, so that's a problem.

Tim: And on top of that, the 613 laws in the Torah are not a comprehensive rule book. And so there arose teachers of the Torah called scribes and Pharisees, and they would fill in the gaps by discerning God's wisdom underneath the laws, so they could apply it to other areas of life. For instance, the Torah said Israelites should stop working one day a week. 8

Jon: Right, but what counts as work?

Tim: Well, the Torah doesn't actually give a full definition, and so the scribes would study the Scriptures and provide a comprehensive list that people could live by.

Jon: They're applying God's wisdom to everyday life, so they can do righteousness before God and others.

Jesus’ Claim About the Torah and the Prophets [3:23-5:08]

Tim: Right. Now, Israel's teachers didn't always agree with each other, and Jesus would often wade into these debates, sometimes agreeing and other times disagreeing with the scribes and Pharisees. 9

Jon: And that would make them worry. Maybe Jesus doesn’t take the Torah and the Prophets seriously enough.

Tim: And so Jesus responds to this concern in the Sermon on the Mount, when he says, “Don’t suppose that I have come to dismantle the Torah or the Prophets. I haven’t come to dismantle them, but to fill them full.” 10

Jon: What does that mean? That Jesus came to fill the Torah and Prophets full?

Tim: Well, remember, the Scriptures tell the story about God's plan to partner with Israel and all humanity in ruling the world, and Jesus claimed that he was taking that story forward, showing how to be righteous and live by God's wisdom.

Jon: That's quite a claim.

Tim: Yes. Jesus even said that his vision of righteousness was more in line with God's wisdom than anyone else in his day. He said, "Unless your righteousness far surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you won't enter the Kingdom of skies." 11

Jon: That's intense.

Tim: It is. But as we'll see, Jesus is offering a bold and beautiful vision of human life—how to build healthy communities and heal broken relationships, and how to transform hostility into honor and respect.

Jon: Which is great, but can you give me an example?

Tim: Actually, Jesus is going to do just that in six case studies. 12 Each time, he'll quote a command from the Torah and then explain how it reveals God's wisdom so that we can learn how to consistently love God and do right by our neighbor.


Looking Ahead to the Next Video [5:39-

Jon: We just looked at this section of the Sermon on the Mount.

Tim: It's an introduction to this whole middle section, where Jesus describes the life of a righteous community that's learning to live by God's wisdom.

Jon: Next up, we'll look at the first three case studies, where Jesus shows what real righteousness looks like in our most challenging relationships.

1. Matthew 5:10
2. Psalm 19:7
3. Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 1-20
4. Exodus 24:12
5. Jeremiah 11:6-10; Ezekiel 20:10-16; Micah 6; Amos 2:4-3:8
6. Isaiah 11:1-9; Jeremiah 32:14-15, Haggai 2:1-9
7. Psalm 1
8. Exodus 20:8-11
9. Mark 3:1-6, 12:18-34
10. Matthew 5:17
11. Matthew 5:20
12. Matthew 5:21-48
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