SERMON ON THE MOUNT: In Living Color     Matthew 5:17-20 

Take a deep breath and identify that unbelievable smell wafting into the worship center today.  BACON!  If you’re a student of the Scriptures, you may be thinking to yourself, “Should we be eating bacon?”  Doesn’t the Bible talk about bacon?!  Leviticus 11:1-3, 7  —  The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat: You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud.  There are some that only chew the cud or only have divided hoof, but you must not eat them. (v 7) And the pig, though it has a divided hoof, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you.  You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.    How many of you sinned already this morning?  How many of you think I’m leading you into sin by having bacon in our lobby?   Can we agree the Bible is a difficult book?  Sometimes, as followers of the way of Jesus, we try to say things like, the Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it.  I don’t know how helpful that is for people when the Bible says, we DO believe it, but we’re cooking bacon in the lobby.  What do we do with that?  I think part of the reason our voice in the public square has been tampered, if not put out altogether, is because we haven’t been honest about the way that we read this book.

Some of us have had experiences where we’ve been beat up by the Bible.  We’ve had people shove it in our face and say, “Well, you shouldn’t do that.  The Bible clearly says….”  Maybe some of us have undertaken for ourselves the discipline of studying the Scriptures and sometimes we walk away scratching our heads going, I’m not exactly sure what I’m suppose to do with this.  If you’ve thought that, you’re not alone.  If you’re graduating from high school and you’re going to go to college, I can promise you, you will be in a class at some point in time where you’ll have a professor that shoves a Bible at you and says, “The Bible says don’t eat bacon; do you eat bacon?”  You can go, praise be to God, I do!  The question is did God just recently decide he wants us to be happy?  Did he change his mind?  Does he now think it’s delicious and we should eat it?  Did we change?  Did the Scriptures change?

I think we might have done ourselves a disservice by not being honest about just how difficult it is to be people of the Scriptures.  Maybe we haven’t done a good enough job getting a lens through which to read the entirety of the Bible.  Sometimes we’ll say things like, well, the Bible says it, we believe it, that settles it, we should just do everything the Bible says to do.  Have you heard people say that?  So, the Bible says in Exodus 21:17 that if your kids disobey you should stone them.  You may not win ‘Father of the Year’ award if you do that.  Anecdotally I might add, not only do we find that repulsive, but you can’t find anywhere in the Scriptures where that’s actually being done.  In Deuteronomy 25:11-12, it says if two men are in a fist fight and one of their wives comes and grabs the other man’s genitalia, you should cut off her hand.  My question is was that happening often?  Did we need a rule for that?  Evidently so.  Leviticus 19:19 says you should not wear clothing with more than one type of thread in it.  Now, all of us, probably, are wearing some type of clothing that violates this law.  Sinner!  What are we suppose to do with that?

So at least let’s admit at the onset that it’s not as easy as the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it, and we should just do it all, because none of us do.  But we might push back and go okay, not the Old Testament, but we do everything in the New Testament.  So that’s our lens.  The reality is that none of you have kissed me. . . .in the six years that I’ve been here, not one of you has kissed me on the lips, other than my wife.  But the Bible says three times in the New Testament that we should greet each other with a holy kiss.  But we don’t do it.  We have a lens through which we read the Scriptures.  We have some baggage, we have some culture that goes along with it.  Even in the same passages, sometimes, we pick and choose which parts of it we want to implement and which parts of it we want to do.  Let me give you an example:  1 Timothy 2:12.  Paul says to the church:  I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man.   Some people go amen, only men should teach.  Did you know that in the same passage it also says I command men everywhere to lift up their hands in holy prayer?  Now, I didn’t see any men lifting up their hands in holy prayer today.  It also says that women shouldn’t wear braids or wear jewelry; we’re not checking that at the door.  So some of the things, even in the same passage, we have a lens and we go, I’m not sure that that was intended for all people, for all time, in every situation.

You may be going, alright, Paulson, those were my two lenses.  Either the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it or either the New Testament says it, I believe it, that settles it, and you just pulled the rug out from under BOTH of my lenses for how we should look at the Scriptures.  So would you please replace it with something?  GLADLY!  What we’re going to look at today is the way that Jesus read the Scriptures.  Which, can we all agree, if we follow the way of Jesus, we should probably read the Bible in the same way Jesus read the Bible?  That’s a great place to start.  Turn to Matthew 5:17-20.  After I’ve just made you question how we’re suppose to read the entire thing, let’s open it up and let it speak over us, what I believe, is a good word for us this morning.  If you’ve been with us, you know this is part of the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus is teaching people what life in the kingdom of God looks like.   Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

So if Jesus says don’t think that I came to abolish the Law and the Prophets, what do you think people were thinking?  They’re thinking Jesus, based on your teaching, it sounds a lot like you’re coming to abolish the Law and the Prophets.  That people who are broken are blessed.  People who mourn will be comforted.  People who are persecuted are actually the ones who are open to the kingdom of God.  Jesus, this doesn’t sound a whole lot like the rest of the Bible.  Are you coming to abolish it?

Sometimes, one of the best interpretive methods we have to figure out what’s going on in the Scriptures is to ask the question the Scriptures anticipate us asking.  If you have a Bible, flip over to Romans 6.  Paul gives this great explanation of the grace of God.  He elevates the grace of God, so much so, that he says now don’t think that because grace abounds so much that we should go on sinning all the more.  What does he assume you’re going to draw the conclusion of based on how great grace is?  Well, we should just keep sinning.  It’s the question he anticipates you asking.

Jesus’s question he anticipates us asking is so should we just discard the whole thing?  Should we just abolish it?  For Jesus, the Law and the Prophets. . . . these two terms may need a little bit of unpacking, because we don’t use those terms in our day, our culture and our time.  The Law, for Jesus, simply meant the Torah.  It was the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures—-the first five books of what we’d say our Old Testament Bible is:  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.  It’s the Torah.  Unfortunately, when we hear the word ‘law,’ we think of a list of rules and a list of commands that we’ve got to sort of check off and we’ve got to do.  But for Hebrews in Jesus’s day, who followed Yahweh, the Law was not just a list of do’s and don’ts, it was a covenant.  It was love.  It was God on display in their midst, moving to be good towards them and to shower his love down on them.  Prophets were the historical books.  It was the Old Testament prophetic writings.  Then there was another section Jesus doesn’t include here called the ‘writings.’  They were the poetry and sort of this junk drawer for everything else that the Bible contained.  So when Jesus says Law and the Prophets, he is talking about the entirety of your Old Testament.

His point is—-You think I came to abolish it.  The picture, painted by that word, is to take a yoke that’s over an ox that’s pulling a plow through a field and take it off of them.  To unhinge them.  To disconnect.  Jesus says you think. . . .you think, based on my teaching, that I’m disconnecting you from everything that was involved in Genesis through Malachi.  He says, “Not the case.”  I came to FULFILL.  It’s the Greek word pléroó.  It means to fill to absolute capacity.  Picture a pitcher of water with more water being poured into it, filling it all the way to the top and even overflowing. It means to take to an appointed destination.  As if to say the Old Testament got us only so far, but Jesus says I’m taking us to the point that the Old Testament always pointed to, and was always talking about.  I’m not disconnecting.  I’m painting in color what the Old Testament was talking about from the get-go.

So, Jesus says I’ve come to fulfill.  I’ve come to fill it up.  Picture the Old Testament and the entirety of Scripture telling a story of a journey.  Picture a journey going from Spain across the Atlantic Ocean and the eventual destination is Colorado.  For the first part of the journey, you’re going to take a boat, if it was before planes, right?  The second part of the journey, you’re going to be on foot, or horseback, or traveling a different way.  The journey, in its entirety, is from Spain to Colorado, right?  But there’s different modes of traveling in each section of the journey.  If you’re on the mountains, it doesn’t help a whole lot to look back and go, but when we were traveling on the ocean, this is how we lived.  When we were on the boat, this is what we had to do.  And yet, it’s all part of the same journey.  It’s still part of the same trip.

As N.T. Wright put it (I think rather brilliantly):  “When he spoke of the Scripture needing to be fulfilled, he was thinking of the entire storyline at last coming to fruition, and of an entire world of hints and shadows now coming to plain statement and full light.”  So when Jesus says the Sabbath is really pointing to me, he’s painting a picture of what it was always intended to be.  We don’t go to Temple anymore and we don’t sacrifice anymore.  Why?  Because Jesus painted a picture of what God had always intended to come about from that portion of the journey.  I think we could say it like this:  Jesus didn’t come to discard (abolish) the Jewish Scriptures, he came to display their intent.  That the Old Testament was gospel in bud, but the New Testament is the gospel in bloom.  Jesus is the law with skin on.  Jesus is the Law and the Prophets in living color.  If the nation of Israel could have lived out the scriptures perfectly, it would have looked like Jesus.  It would have looked like Jesus.  He puts it on display, he doesn’t discard it.

You might be asking, okay, how is it or what is it that Jesus puts on display?  What does he paint in color that was only in black and white?  What does he nail that the Jewish people missed?  The first thing he puts on display is a life of shalom.  When humanity fell, there was a four-fold fracture that happened.  Our relationship with our Creator God was fractured.  Relationship with other people was fractured.  Relationship with ourselves was fractured.   And relationship with creation was fractured.  The Old Testament, the Law, the Prophets, the writings are all meant to guide the nation of Israel back into what it looks like to live as a people of shalom.  It’s what Jesus puts on display.  A lot of people read passages about bacon, and about stoning people, and we read passages….    We go okay, are we suppose to do that today?  I think it’s the wrong question, to be honest with you.  I think the right question would be something like this:  All of the Old Testament scripture, passages, commands are all intended to do something to us.  They’re intended to shape us, to form us, to form the nation of Israel into a nation that would be characterized by freedom, by love, and by justice.  The question we should ask is how does that given command lead people towards freedom, love, and justice?  And what might it look like to live as people of freedom, love and justice today?  The Old Testament was guiding people—-the Law, the Prophets, the writings—-into a life of wholeness and shalom.

That’s not where it ends.  That’s not the only thing Jesus puts on display.  In addition to that, here what he puts on display according to Matthew 22:37-40.  Someone came to Jesus and asked him what was the greatest commandment.  Like, Jesus, if we’re only going to keep one, which one should we keep?   Jesus replied:  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it:  Love your neighbor as yourself.  {He then makes this audacious, maybe ridiculous, to the hearts and the minds of the people looking on and listening to him.}  ALL the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.    I encourage you to do a word study of this word ‘all’ and you’ll find out it means. . . .ALL.  All the Law and the Prophets. . . .your entire Old Testament HANG on these two commandments.  As if to say, if you were to take those two commands out, but kept everything else, you would miss the entire point of it all.

It’s not a unique statement to Jesus.  Jesus’s followers picked up on this.  Paul in the book of Romans 13….    Romans 13 has gotten some airplay this week, you may or may not be aware.  It’s been quoted by some of our political leaders in regards to the fact that we should keep the law.  To that I say yes and amen.  I think it’s a good thing to keep the law.  The question is what happens if the law is inhumane?  What happens if the law violates a greater law?  It may benefit people to keep reading Romans 13 and you’re going to get to this:  Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.   {Like, if you keep THIS command, you implicitly keep the rest of them.}  The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Romans 13:8-10)  Lest you think that that was intended to be a political statement, I can assure you it was actually in my notes way before any of our leaders quoted it.  I think it’s important, though.  It may be a word for us from God that this is the law that we’re suppose to live up to, friends.  If we keep this law—the law of love—by implication we keep the rest of them.

Here’s the way Paul says it in the book of Galatians (5:14) — For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”   The entire Old Testament.  I think an image or picture may be helpful for us.  I want you to picture our Old Testament as somebody who’s learning a new instrument.  Or maybe somebody who’s learning to speak a new language.  When you’re learning a new instrument, one of the things you do is you learn the chords, you learn the notes, and then you start practicing scales.   If you’re a musician, you know those things inside and out.  If you’re learning a new language, you are pounding flashcards, right?  This is what this vocab word means, this is how to parse these verbs, this is how the language works.   If you’re learning an instrument, the goal of the instrument is NOT to play the scales, is it?  No!  The goal of learning vocab is not to just know vocab, is it?  The goal of learning scales is so that eventually you can grab a guitar, you can sit down at a piano, and you can play music.  Music that is beautiful.  Music that invites others to join in.  The goal of learning vocab, learning how to parse all those verbs. . . . .the goal of learning all of that is not so that you would know how to do it, but so that you can have a conversation with somebody, so that you can converse.

In the same way, I think Jesus is saying, the goal of the Old Testament wasn’t just to nail a bunch of commands and get them down.  The goal of the Old Testament, the Law, the commands, the Prophets, was to teach us how to live, and he’s saying I’m putting this all on display for you. We’re moving from scales to music.  We’re moving from vocab to conversation.  When you live it all out, here’s what it looks like, and he puts his life on display for you and I to see, saying, “Let’s sing.  Let’s talk.  Let’s make music.  Let’s live into the fullness of our humanity that God has designed us to live.”  That was his goal.

Here’s what he says.  He gives us three encouragements.  In light of sort of his main point—-he came to put it on display, not to discard it—-here’s what he says:  For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. (Matt. 5:18)  Not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen.  If you have a King James Version, it says not a ‘jot or a tittle.’  You could translate it like this, if you wanted to. . .not the crossing of a ‘T’ or the dotting of an ‘i,’ none of it is going anywhere.  Jesus points out that there’s two ‘untils’ that he talks about. The second one is ‘until everything is accomplished.’  Some of it was accomplished in him, right?  Some of it met its fulfillment in him.  Some of it is yet to be accomplished or fulfilled.

This word ‘accomplished’ in the Greek is this beautiful word.  It literally means to be born.  To come into being.  To sort of be on display and to be able to be seen for what it is.  Sacrifice—Jesus has accomplished it, it was born.  Sabbath—Jesus has accomplished it.  It’s good but we don’t need to have it as a command.  We can practice it as a delight, not as a duty.  The temple—It was born.  Now the Holy Spirit lives in us.  It’s accomplished.  But Jesus says there are some things that are yet to be done, and you can rest assured that nothing’s happening to his Scripture until it is born, comes into fruition.  His point was that you and I can have a confidence in the Scriptures being accomplished, not annulled.  Not done away with, but born.  Coming into fruition.  So I would say not all of the Scriptures are binding, but all of it’s important and all of it’s true. . . .including the future promises.  The Scriptures not only tell us who we are but it shows us where we come from and it tells us where we’re heading.

Here’s the way Jesus continues (Matt.5:19):  Therefore {So in light of the fact that it’s not come to be annulled, accomplished, born…}  anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven…  {Just a quick time out.  The context of the entire Sermon on the Mount flows from Matthew 4:17.  Jesus says in Matthew 4:17, repent, change your mind, change the way that you’re living, and live in accordance to the reality that the kingdom of God is at hand.  It’s here.  So when Jesus talks about the kingdom of heaven here, he’s talking about the rule and reign of God that you and I can step into right now, today.  He’s not talking about where we’ll go when we die, but how we live today.  He says if anyone relaxes the least of these commandments, they’ll be called least in the kingdom of heaven…} …but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

It is Father’s Day.  You may have recognized by now that this isn’t your quintessential Father’s Day message, but I think. . . .as I think about practicing and teaching, I think for fathers, maybe this is a word for us from the Scriptures.  I want to commend you.  I see so many dads who are deeply involved in the lives of their kids.  I had a friend, from out of town, who came and visited our church a number of weeks ago. They had kids with them and their response afterwards was how do you get so many men to volunteer in kids ministry?  I said, “We give them bacon!”  No!  I said, “We have a culture of fathers who don’t shirk their responsibility.”  We have a culture of fathers who step up to the plate.  We have a culture of fathers who love their kids well, who are invested, and who are involved.  I just want to say thank you to all the dads who live that out and do it so well.  Thank you.

As a dad myself, I think it’s real easy to beat myself up.  It’s easy for us to be really hard on ourselves.  We can see all the things we should be doing a lot easier than we can see the things that we ARE doing.  I ran across this video and I thought it was fitting because I think it paints the picture of that quandary that many of us as fathers find ourselves in.  Even if you’re not a father, my guess is you can relate.   {Video entitled: Teaching Moments.  Summary: Dad is preparing to use a call to principal’s office for his son as teachable moment, unaware that his (the dad’s) life has been teaching his son all along in positive manner.}

Jesus is teaching us what it looks like, in the Sermon on the Mount, to have an approach to the Scriptures that so many here and so many fathers live out.  A devotion to instruction, through our lives, through our words, but more importantly, what I love about that video is that it’s the moments that we don’t think of.  It’s the leading families around the table in prayer, it’s the tucking your kids in at night, it’s the showing up at the games, it’s the little moments that they’re going to come back and remember and say thank you for.  Those are the moments that teach, as much as our words do.

Jesus says we should approach the Scriptures with a devotion to instruction as opposed to dismissive trivialization.  The New Testament goes on to say, in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, (a popular passage of Scripture) — All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.   Notice what he says.  He says the Scriptures are intended and useful for shaping us.  Not telling us what to do in every single little situation, but shaping us into people that we’re becoming.  The Scriptures are useful in that.

Two things I’d encourage you with.  1) Do not. . . .do NOT follow a command and miss the commander.  Don’t try to execute everything perfectly and miss the God that’s behind it, and the character of the God that’s behind it.  Don’t follow a command and miss the commander.  It’s way too important to know the heart of God; to know that God is gracious, to know that God is good, to know that God is slow to anger, to know that God is loving and abounding in kindness to us.  The Israelites thought they had to get every single little command right and he says to them in Isaiah 58, “Your worship services make me sick.”  You’re singing songs and giving offering, but you’re not treating the people around you with dignity and honor.   He goes, I’m sick to my stomach.  You execute the command , but you miss the commander.

Here’s the second thing I’d say.  This might be a little controversial and that’s okay.  We can chew on it together.  Do not violate the greatest command to keep a secondary command.  Don’t violate the greatest command—-love God, love others—-in order to keep a secondary command.  According to Jesus, every other one of the commands is simply commentary on the two greatest ones.  They’re what it looks like, in given situations, to live out love of God and love of others.  That should be first and foremost in our minds.  Does this look like love?  To God and to others?  If it doesn’t, we should think in our hearts and souls, we’re probably violating the law of God.  Because we cannot. . . .we cannot keep a secondary and violate the first command and execute that secondary command rightly.  We can’t!  That’s part of our litmus test.  If you want some good reading for later on this week, go read Acts 10 and 11 on Jesus’s commands to Peter on eating unclean foods in order to live in the way of love.  He’s going no, no, no, no, no, keep the first command—love God, love others—and let the other chips fall where they may.  The other ones are commentary on these first ones.  1) Don’t follow a command and miss the commander.  2) Don’t violate the greatest commandment to keep a secondary one.

Finally, here’s what Jesus says:  For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Now, for us we may have heard this before and go, okay, yeah, yeah, we get it.  For people in Jesus’s day, this would have been thought to be unheard of.  NOBODY has surpassed the righteousness of that of the Scribes and the Pharisees.  It would be like somebody today saying, “Unless you’re more righteous than Billy Graham, you’re never going to enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Let that sit on you for a second.  The people who were sitting on this mountain. . . .the people who have just been told that they are poor in spirit, but blessed because the kingdom of God is theirs, that they’re merciful and they’re going to be shown mercy, they’re going to be going, Jesus, we don’t get it.  These people tithe on their spices!  How in the world could we be more righteous than them?

We think of righteousness as being right with God, and certainly that word means that.  Being righteous also has the implication that we’re in right relationship with the people around us.  Being righteous could be summarized in one succinct little phrase—-it means goodness.  Jesus says unless your goodness surpasses that of the Scribes and the Pharisees….   See what he’s doing?  He’s shifting the game.  He’s going, you’ve been practicing the scales and you’ve been realizing where you’re getting it wrong in the scales, and he’s going, I’m inviting you to play music.  You’ve been working on the vocab, but I’m inviting you to have a conversation.  Let’s talk about the way we’re interacting with the world around us.  The Pharisees used guilt and fear as their motivators, but Jesus is inviting people to interact with God based on joy and delight, that they might know him, not just externally through their obedience, but internally through His Spirit.  Here’s what Jesus is inviting them to:  A transformed internal life rather than a conformed external life.

Rather than just keeping the commandments, Jesus is painting a picture of the type of people we must become if we’re going to live our lives in the kingdom of God.  Over the next few weeks, we’re going to explore this.  Jesus talks about a number of different ways—he has six statements where he says, “You’ve heard it said, but I say to you….”   You’ve heard it said, “Thou shall not murder.”  Let’s agree, that’s a pretty low bar, right?  We could execute that, beat our chest a little bit, go, “Check! Done! Learned the vocab.”  Jesus goes no, no, no, there’s so much more behind becoming people who don’t murder.  It’s becoming people who don’t want to murder somebody.  Becoming people who are free from anger and free from hate.  It’s not just that you didn’t sleep with somebody who’s your spouse.  He goes, that’s good, I believe in that, I’m for that, Jesus says, but it’s about the freedom of living life away from and not confined by lust that is just poison to our soul.

So he says listen, you can have a transformed, conformed outward obedience, but have a soul that’s rotting on the inside.  He says I want so much more for you than just outward “Check! Did that!”  I want you to become the type of people who live life in the kingdom of God.  Who live life loving Jesus, walking with Jesus.  Knowing his presence.  Knowing his goodness and having it shine through you.  He says I want you to move from people who are people of doing to be people of being.  I don’t want you to be in constant competition with the people around you, I want you to live in contentment.  I don’t want you to be worried about whether or not you’re perfect, I want you to be people who walk in relationship with me.  I want you to be the type of people who obey out of delight, rather than people who obey out of duty.

The entire new covenant that was promised to you and to me—in Jeremiah 31, in the book of Ezekiel, reiterated in the book of Hebrews—was the day that was dawning in the teaching of Jesus.  Here’s what it promised:  “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord.  “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.  I will be their God, and they will be my people.  No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord.  “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jer. 31:33-34)   God’s saying, I’m going to invite people, by forgiveness, into covenant, and it’s going to change them from the inside out.  It’s going to transform who they are.  Jesus says that day has dawned, that day is NOW.  I love the way that Dallas Willard put it:  “Trying merely to keep the law is not wholly unlike trying to make an apple tree bear peaches by typing peaches to its branches.”  He’s going no, no, no, no, no, I want to change you from the inside.

Friends, that’s always what this has been about.  It’s not God saying just act like this. . . . .a lot of us have maybe been beat up by the Scriptures and it was an invitation or a calling to ACT a certain way.  I want you to hear it as clearly as I can say it this morning, that Jesus’s intention over your life is to shower his love down on you in such a way that it changes you.  That it changes from the inside out.  Where you start to say not only do I want to execute the law, but I want to become the type of person who’s comfortable in God’s kingdom, in relationship with God.  I want to live in light of who He says I am in the wholeness, the shalom, and the love that He designed me for.  THAT’S what this whole story has always been about.

So, as we go today, can I encourage you to read the Scriptures?  Jesus was quite fond of them.  We should be too.  Read the Scriptures through the lens of Jesus.  They’re pointing to them.  He says they’ve been fulfilled in him, so we should not read Act 1 disconnected from Act 5 that we find ourselves in.  We’ve got to read backwards in addition to reading forwards.  Does that make sense?  We’ve got to read the Scriptures through the lens of Jesus.  What does it look like when Jesus perfectly embodies and displays the law of God?  We should do that too.

Finally, read the Scriptures through the lens of Jesus and let’s learn together to live in the way of love.  There’s so many of you who are doing that and who are doing it so well.  So many dads who are doing that and doing it so well.  Dads who are loving and investing in kids that have special needs.  I know you’re tired.  I just want to say keep going.  Dads who are worn out, worked to the bone, coming home and the last thing you want to do is get on the floor and wrestle with your kids, but you’re doing it anyway.  Good job!  Keep going!  Keep loving!  Keep loving well!  Dads who are working hard to make ends and are worn out, but they keep going, they keep loving.  And for all of us, I want to say, let’s push the law to the limit.  Let’s push the law to the limit!  Let’s push the law of LOVE to the limit!  Typically, we think of law as we don’t want to get close to violating that law.  Let’s push this one to the limit.  Let’s try our best to love SO WELL that Jesus might look at us and go, I didn’t expect you to take it that far!  What if we took this law to the limit?  Not just in our eating of bacon, but in our serving, in our investing in our community.  Maybe it’s in Family Promise, or serving with the GraceFull Café, or maybe it’s in volunteering, or going to Celebrate Recovery. . . .let’s take this law to the limit.  The law of love.  May it be the thing that defines us, because I can assure you, it is the thing that defines God and his Scriptures.  Let’s pray.

Before you go rushing out of here, I’ll just give you a second to gather your thoughts.  What might it look like for you to practice that this week?  Maybe there’s somebody in your life that’s different than you, that disagrees with you. Maybe there’s somebody in your life you just don’t like a whole lot.  The invitation from Jesus is love, in that way you fulfill the law.  For the fathers in this room that are just worn out, I want to invite you to be encouraged this morning.  To know that Jesus sees, and that he wants to meet you and fill you.  So, Lord, we come to you believing that this whole story has always been about your goodness, your shalom, your love, and your invitation for humanity to live in light of who you are.  We want to do that.  So, Lord, teach us what it looks like to read the Scriptures.  Teach us what it looks like to read the Scriptures through the lens of you, Jesus.  Jesus, teach us what it looks like to read the Scriptures through your lens and to live in your way.  We pray it all in the powerful name of Jesus.  And all God’s people said. . . .Amen.