“Fulfilling the Law”
In the name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Dear Friends in Christ,
Taught About Blessings
Last week we began reading what is called The Sermon on the Mount. Matthew tells us that Jesus gathered his disciples together, he opened his mouth, and he taught them. He declared that they would be blessed because he had come into the world. Jesus described a kingdom far different from the kingdoms of this world.
Jesus declared that he came to comfort those who carried the burden of their sin. He came for those who knew that they could not boast about living a righteous life. Blessed were those who confessed that they needed a savior and confessed that Jesus was the One who came to save them.
Jesus taught them that he would change their lives. As they hungered and thirsted for the gift of his righteousness, he promised that they would learn to be merciful, pure in heart, and peacemakers. Finally he made them aware that following him would mean persecution by a world that was not willing to confess its sin or its faith in Jesus.
In The World
Jesus continued teaching his disciples by saying, “You are the salt of the earth and you are the light of the world.” Perhaps the first thing that we should notice about these words is that Jesus does not take his disciples out of the world. The church is not a sanctuary were Christians hide away from the world.
We are in the world living side by side with those who do not believe in Jesus Christ as their redeemer. We are not called to blend in or keep silent in the world. Jesus called his disciples then and calls us today to be salt and light in and to the world.
Salt can add flavor or help preserve food. But salt can also sting, it can hurt. Try placing salt on a cut or an open wound and you will see how it stings. There is a popular saying, “Don’t pour salt into an open wound.” The Christian who follows Christ must be willing to salt the world.
The Christian must be willing to denounce everything that comes from the fallen sinful heart of man. Christ’s disciples must call the world to join them in repenting from failing to follow God’s will. Repent is a word that will sting those who want to boast of their own goodness.
The message from the church must be that we are justified by God’s grace through faith alone in Christ alone. The followers of Christ must know that the world will fight back with persecution. The world will not tolerate for long Christians who call into question the “wisdom” of the world.
The world then and the world today has little problem hearing that Jesus loves the world. However, they fight back with all their strength when they are told that Jesus came into the world because they are sinners who need forgiveness.
If Christ’s disciples are not willing to salt the earth, to rub salt into the wounds of sinful behavior then the Gospel will have no meaning and their saltiness is gone. We too must not resist when the Law of God convicts us but we must repent and turn to the One who takes away our sin.
Jesus then turns to the picture of his disciples being the light of the world. We know that it is Jesus himself who is the light of the world, the light no darkness can overcome. Jesus calls us to reflect his light.
As the light of the world we are not to be afraid of sharing the hope that is within us. That hope is the sure and certain hope that through Jesus Christ and him alone there is forgiveness for the sins we commit and the sins of the whole world.
The church is to shine in the world as it instructs and guides people to eternal life. We are to live as examples to the world of how God calls us to act. We are not to be afraid of speaking up when we hear or see someone speaking or acting in a way that God says is sin. We are to be merciful, offering forgiveness.
We are to be witnesses of the truth that, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We are not to exclude ourselves from confessing our sins. We are to be witnesses of the truth that “the good shepherd laid down his life for all who sin.”
“Let your light shine,” Jesus said, “so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” The greatest good work for us as Christians is to shine a light on Jesus, his fulfillment of the Law for us and his sacrifice for us on the cross. There is where the glory of God is shone to the world.
Jesus called his disciples, the church that grew from their witness, and you and me to be salt and light in the world. We are called to speak God’s Law when the world needs to be confronted with sin. We are called to speak the Gospel when the world needs to be comforted with forgiveness.
We live in a world that is caught between two extremes. The first is to have a false hope, to believe that their sins do not matter. False hope is to rewrite the law so that you think you are no longer guilt. False hope is to consider your sins so insignificant that your righteousness is good enough to please God.
Jesus tells us how wrong it is to think this way. “I have not come to abolish the Law,” he said. “Not an iota nor a dot” of God’s Law will be changed here on earth. Every I is dotted and every t is crossed so that the Law of God holds everyone accountable for even the smallest of sins. The Law stands firm so that there can be no false hope.
The other extreme is to live in despair. Despair is believing that there is no hope. Despair hears only the Law from God’s Word. Despair is the darkness of knowing only that one’s own righteousness can never be a righteousness that saves.
To this extreme Jesus says, “I have come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.” This is the Gospel, the good news that has been given to us and that we bring to the world. Jesus fulfilled the Law for us. His life was the perfect obedience to the will of God.
Jesus fulfilled the Prophets. He came as the prophets said he would to take upon himself our sin and to be the sacrifice for our sin. Jesus came to take away our despair and to give us peace.
We have the message that takes away the extremes of False Hope and Despair. We have the salt and light that first were given to us. We have the Word of God that proclaims to us and to the world the truth.
Jesus has fulfilled the Law for you. He suffered and died for you. Your sins are forgiven, you are redeemed. His righteousness covers you and with it you enter the kingdom of heaven.
.In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria