Jesus did not come to abolish the law of Moses. His disciples cannot set aside the law simply because they don’t like it or it is inconvenient. Jesus is trying to help them to a greater righteousness and holiness. While this righteousness and holiness can be received only by grace, Jesus emphasizes grace must not mean rewriting God’s will for character and holiness so the standards are lower. This is especially true of those who teach others about God’s will. The last thing we want to do is promise an easy response to the Good News of Jesus with no demands when God has set the character, faith, ministry, life, and service of Jesus as our standard. On the other hand, we do not want to make the way for others unnecessarily difficult to follow or be the source of their drifting off the path. In sharing the Good News, we want to share the truth: God’s will, revealed through his word by the Holy Spirit.
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New Testament: Matthew 5:1-26
Summary: The Sermon on the Mount
Blessing literally means “happy, fortunate, blissful.” Here it speaks of more than a surface emotion. Jesus describes the divinely-bestowed well-being that belongs only to the faithful. The Beatitudes demonstrate that the way to heavenly blessedness is opposite the worldly path people normally follow to find happiness. The worldly idea is that happiness is found in riches, merriment, abundance, leisure, and such things. The real truth is the very opposite. In the Beatitudes, Jesus describes the character of true faith. ~ MacArthur Bible Commentary
shall be called least … shall be called great.
The consequence of practicing or teaching disobedience to any of God’s Word is to be called least in the kingdom of heaven. Determining rank in the kingdom of heaven is entirely God’s prerogative (Matthew 20:23); Jesus declares that He will hold in lowest esteem those who hold His Word in lowest esteem. There is no impunity for believers who disobey, discredit, or belittle God’s law. That Jesus does not refer to loss of salvation is clear from the fact that, though offenders will be called “least,” they will still be in the kingdom of heaven. The positive result is that whoever keeps and teaches God’s Word shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Here Jesus mentions the two aspects of doing and teaching. Kingdom citizens are to uphold every part of God’s law, both in their living and in their teaching.
Now if you think it’s serious – and, beloved, hang on to this one – if you think it’s serious to break God’s law, I think it’s more serious to teach somebody else to do that. James also said in chapter 3, verse 1, “Stop being so many teachers, for theirs is the greater condemnation.” I tell young men all the time, “If God didn’t call you into the ministry, run a million miles away from it. You don’t want the responsibility.”
2 Timothy 3:14–17, Matthew 5:18