Exceeding Righteousness (Matthew 5:17-20)

It is tempting to come to Matthew 5:17-20 and consider this section of the Sermon on the Mount to be a departure from the theme thus far about describing who belongs in God’s kingdom. This paragraph is not a defense of himself (though certainly the text does defend what Jesus is teaching) but teaches us about the kingdom of God. The first sixteen verses of the Sermon on the Mount (the Beatitudes, salt and light teachings) were the preamble to this discourse about the kingdom. Recall that we saw in Matthew 4:23 that Jesus was going through Galilee “proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom.” The Sermon on the Mount is the contents of this gospel proclamation of the kingdom. What we are going to see is that Matthew 5:17-20 is the hub of the whole sermon. What Jesus teaches here is the critical foundational teaching of the gospel of the kingdom upon which the rest of the sermon (all the way through chapter 7) hang. Without understanding this paragraph we will be apt to misunderstand the rest of Jesus’ teaching in this sermon. In this paragraph, Jesus makes two important declarations that we will look at today.

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