BACKGROUND AND ASSIGNMENT – WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13, 2011

“JESUS CHRIST: HIS PREACHING AND TEACHING”

In Matthew 5:17-48 Jesus is teaching a new way to look at the Old Testament Laws of Moses. For those listening to this sermon for the first time this message was a radically different understanding of The Law. As you read these verses, please understand Jesus was teaching not just a change of behavior but a change of heart!
Jesus took six important Old Testament laws and interpreted them for His people in the light of the new life He came to give – He made a fundamental change without altering God’s standards: He dealt with the attitudes and intents of the heart and not simply with the external action. The Pharisees said that righteousness consisted of performing certain actions, but Jesus said it centered in the attitudes of the heart. Likewise, with sin: The Pharisees had a list of external actions that were sinful, but Jesus explained that sin came from the attitudes of the heart.
Beginning with verse 21, six sections take up the rest of Matthew Chapter 5, and they all begin in much the same way. Notice this pattern as you take turns reading aloud the first two verses in each section: 21-22, 27-28, 31-32, 33-34, 38-39, and 43-44. From what you see in these verses, what is Jesus criticizing: the Old Testament law, or the people’s understanding of the Old Testament law? Answer each of the next questions by telling us what the Old Testament had to say about the commandment and what do you think Jesus is teaching about that commandment in these verses.
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
1. Which of the Ten Commandments is this verse teaching about? How is Jesus’ teaching different than the teaching of the Pharisees?
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
2. Which of the Ten Commandments is this verse teaching about? How is Jesus’ teaching different than the teaching of the Pharisees?
31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
3. Where in the Old Testament do you find this commandment about divorce? What do you think Jesus is saying is the difference between what Moses commanded and Jesus’ teaching? As you consider the questions on divorce, look at the attachment that presents a more detailed look at divorce in Jesus’ day and how it may viewed today.
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
4. Where in the Old Testament do you find this commandment about oaths or swearing? How is Jesus teaching on this commandment different from the Pharisees?
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
5. This is a difficult commandment for anyone but especially young people. What do you think Jesus meant by these verses? With so much violence from retaliation among young people, how can these verses help start a revolution with teenagers today?
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
6. Although there was no Old Testament commandment to hate one’s enemies, the Pharisees taught that one should love his friends and hate his enemies. Why was Jesus’ teaching on loving one’s enemies so important? Give some reasons why you think the Savior wants us to love our enemies?
7. In verse 17, Jesus said He came to fulfill the Old Testament Scriptures, and not to destroy or abolish them. What ways can you think of in which Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament, and why are these important?
8. In your own words, how would you explain the meaning of verse 48?
9. If Jesus did not come to abolish or destroy the Old Testament Scriptures, does that mean they still apply to us today? Explain your answer.
10. How could you use verses 23-24 to help someone who told you about an offense that was committed against him by another Christian brother or sister?