Matthew 5:33-37

Sermon on the Mount
Matthew 5:33-37

Pray

Read
33“Again, you have heard that it was said to our ancestors, You must not break your oath, but you must keep your oaths to the Lord. 34But I tell you, don’t take an oath at all: either by heaven, because it is God’s throne; 35or by the earth, because it is His footstool; or by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. 36Neither should you swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. 37But let your word ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.

Testimonies?

Introduction        Jesus kept His message simple, lets keep it that way as well.  There are really only two statements I believe that are essential for us to remember and live in obedience to Jesus teaching in this passage.  If we keep these two statements in context with the rest of Jesus teaching, we will live righteously related to oaths and swearing oaths.

They come in verses 34 and 37.  1. “I tell you, don’t take an oath at all     2. let your word ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.

In the rest of the verses Jesus deals with specific examples that were common in that day related to oaths and swearing, but for us this is really the bottom line.  “I tell you, don’t take an oath at all … let your word ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.

Well – maybe it is a lot more challenging to live this out than at first look.  I do believe it is easy to complicate this passage and all of the rest of the Sermon on the Mount.  But Jesus did not live outside of reality.  He did not teach a philosophical Utopia.  Jesus taught the disciples and the crowds how to live in the real world.  And as His disciples He is still teaching His disciples how to live victoriously in a real world.

Lets see if we can get practical with these verses.

Jesus gets their attention.  I believe again Jesus is bringing up a very practical and common issue.  Making oaths had become a very common and meaningless part of every day life in Israel.  It is even probable that oaths had become the “slang” of the day.

V33    33“Again, you have heard that it was said to our ancestors, You must not break your oath, but you must keep your oaths to the Lord.

It is likely that Jesus had in mind Numbers 30 or Deuteronomy 23 when He taught this statement.  21“If you make a vow to the LORD your God, do not be slow to keep it, because He will require it of you, and it will be counted against you as sin. 22But if you refrain from making a vow, it will not be counted against you as sin. 23Be careful to do whatever comes from your lips, because you have freely vowed what you promised to the LORD your God.

This would be a familiar passage to the listeners of the Sermon on the Mount as well as the laws in Leviticus 27, and Numbers 30 related to making different kinds of oaths.

Deuteronomy 5:11 Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God, because the LORD will not leave anyone unpunished who misuses His name.   This verse would also be very familiar to most of the hearers of Jesus teaching.  This is the 3rd of the 10 Commandments.

Oaths had become meaningless.  Oaths had become a way to make yourself sound more authoritative.  Oaths were also used to make it sound like you knew what you were saying, when you really didn’t have proof.  Swearing an oath, this is the primary used of the word swearing in this passage, was a way to “drive home your point of conversation”.

So what is the big deal?  What is the harm in making superficial oaths?  The big problem is that they were making oaths in God’s name.  And God said misuse of His name will be punished.  The 3rd of the 10 Commandments.

V34 & 35    34But I tell you, don’t take an oath at all: either by heaven, because it is God’s throne; 35or by the earth, because it is His footstool (Isaiah 66:3); or by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. (Psalm 48)

Paul taught why this was the tradition, it actually all results from a very practical reason.
Hebrews 6:13-20 16For men swear by something greater than themselves, …

And this is all based on God’s example.  It starts in Genesis 22:15-18 with God and Abraham.  15The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son,

So the problem is really not with oaths or swearing oaths.  The problem is with keeping them.  And when someone breaks their oath made before and with God, they make Him an oath breaker with them.  But God never breaks His promises (Numbers 23:19, Psalms 89:34).

The problem is not in making; oaths, vows, covenants, promises, contracts, commitments, pledge (verbal and other).  The problem is why we make them, how we make them, and that we fulfill each and every one of them.

V36    36Neither should you swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black.

The word translated swear in this verse is the same word translated oath in verse 34.  It means to: I swear, take an oath, promise with an oath.

And apparently it had become popular to make oaths in the form of statements usually about ideas they were teaching or trying to prove.  And to emphasize their point they promised a curse on their heads if they were wrong.  But in the end their oaths were meaningless.  If they truly had the power of God to fulfill their curse, they would have something.  But they could not even make one hair change color.  So indirectly they were bringing God into the oath again as it was ultimately understood that God was the head over the man.  This is why they wear the little hat by the way.

V37    37But let your word ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.  James 5:12 is a near quote to this verse.

This is an issue of integrity.  Integrity that we will do what we say we will do, and not do what we say we will not do.  This is God’s standard for making oaths and commitments of any and all kinds.  There is to be only yes or no.  When we realize these are our only choices, it forces us to be more careful with what we say.

The key to the yes and no is to know when to say yes or no.  This is not to be a guess on our part.  The yes and no are to be based on righteousness and God’s will.  This is why it is so vital that we grow in our personal relationship with God.  We must be filled with His Spirit to know His will.

This is about who we are in Christ and who we are becoming as His disciples.  What we do and say or don’t do or don’t say is a result of who we are as God’s children saved by Grace.  And through the work of the Holy Spirit every day of our life we need to grow spiritually as disciples of Jesus.

Application
Is Jesus saying all or any oaths/vows/etc. are bad?  No!  God is a covenant maker in the form of the old and the new, oaths like with Abraham, and promises like with Noah.

Not all oaths or vows are bad such as for soldiers, doctors, judges, etc?
Here is a good example of someone who understood the value of a governmental oath.
In the last analysis, of course, an oath will encourage fidelity in office only to the degree that officeholders continue to believe that they cannot escape ultimate accountability for a breach of faith.        James L. Buckley        He was a judge, a senator, etc.

The problem is how and why oaths, covenants, and commitments are made.  When they are done in response to God’s direction and calling, they are good.

When an oath is done for the wrong reasons, with limited understanding and commitment, or without really meaning them problems arise.  Such as these examples.

As long as I live, I will never forget that day 21 years ago when I raised my hand and took the oath of citizenship. Do you know how proud I was? I was so proud that I walked around with an American flag around my shoulders all day long.        Arnold Schwarzenegger

Examples;    I swear upon a stack of Bibles …
Upon my grandfather’s grave …
You can quote me on this …
…, mom, I promise!
X my heart and hope to die!
I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.

Never take a solemn oath. People think you mean it.    Norman Douglas, author

So you might be saying to your self, great, I will just avoid oaths of any and all kinds and then I don’t have to believe in really anything.  This is that last example.  This was not what Jesus was teaching.

Jesus was teaching His disciples and us that His standard for commitments is 100%.  Commitments, oaths, vows, etc. Are based on the commitment God made with His creation.  And He has never and will never break one of His promises.

Our commitments are to be 100% as well.  When we make a commitment we must keep it.  If it is a job we do our best.  If it is a task, we do what we say we will do.  But none of these are really as important as the one commitment or decision we all must make.

This is not an oath of best intentions.  It is not an oath of giving part of yourself.  It is a commitment, an oath, based on yes or no!  You either repent of your sins and place your faith in Jesus, or you reject His offer of salvation.

If you want to talk about receiving salvation please find me after the service.  But if you have already made this oath or commitment, was your commitment to God 100% or did your faith come with hidden conditions?

Notes
Oaths, two different words are used for oaths in this passage.
First is a verb
Definition: I take an oath, swear falsely.    from epiorkos Definition: perjured, sworn falsely.
from epi and horkos
Second is a noun
Word Origin akin to erkos (fence, enclosure)
Definition    an oath

Funny Examples:
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/oath.html#HUU6HYffUBbS1QCk.99

Matthew 5:31-32

I didn’t preach or prepare the sermon for Matthew 5:27-30 and my notes were not worth posting.  FYI

Sermon on the Mount
Mark 5:31-32

Prayer

Testimonies

Review & Intro
Thanks again Rick for teaching last week.
Verses 27-30 setup the verses we are studying today, lets read them again.
27“You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. 28But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell!
Some key points from last week are;  that adultery is bad!  Kind of obvious.  Adultery is any way in which the marriage covenant has been broken.  Most commonly this is done through sexual adultery.  And Jesus taught that adultery starts with the intent in our heart, lust, to want what is only acceptable in a marriage.  Adultery was punishable by death and Jesus is teaching leads to eternity in hell.  And any part of our body that leads us to sin is better to remove, is a small price to pay, than keep it and go to hell.  I believe Jesus was saying this is very serious business.

Jesus is reestablishing God’s original standard for marriage.  It is an unbreakable covenant to God.

Lets put on a modern twist for an example.  Say you like to look at bad pictures on the internet.  This is definitely a version of lust, don’t make any mistake about it!  You get convicted by these verses so you decide to destroy your old broken computer.  Not good enough.  Take every computer that you won and destroy them.  Then find a way to never use a computer on the internet again the rest of your life.  This is more like Jesus was teaching.  Because anything that keeps you from a relationship with God is not worth having, keeping, or wanting.

Ok, lets move on to verses 31-32.

V31    31“It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife must give her a written notice of divorce.
Divorce simply stated is the formal way to end a marriage.
So lets talk about what is a marriage?  The disciples and the crowds listening to Jesus would have thought of these things about marriage.

It is not a civil or a religious covenant.  Marriage was a covenant between a man and a woman under God.  Under God meaning these were Jews, God’s chosen race.  God had a covenant with them through Abraham.  And God expected every Jew to realize every part of life is from and included God.

But marriage did not require a Rabbi or a legal government office.  For a marriage to be “legal” one of three, usually all three, things were required.  Once one of these took place the marriage was established and everyone was to honor the marriage on penalty of death normally.  These are not found in the Old Testament, these are all part of the Oral Law.  Here are the three things.  1. A bride price, money to the woman.  2.  A contract, to the woman.  3. Companionship.  Normally a man, 13-16 years old would get betrothed or engaged to a woman usually 12-14 years old.  The agreement of betrothal could be between parents in an arranged marriage.  Or the man could ask the woman’s parents.  Or the man and the woman work it out with the family.

But when the man gave the agreed upon “bride price”, which could be as little as the smallest coin or often much greater, to the woman the marriage was not established.  But when the woman accepted the price the marriage was established.  Or the contract could be the first element, but it could also be through physical union before the other parts though this was the least common.

What is quite clear is that the woman had control of the final decision.  When she was ready the marriage began.  Then traditionally the man was to build a home within the next year.  Then there was usually a huge ceremony and celebration.  As part of the ceremony he would take the woman into his home and the marriage was fully complete.  Normally the physical union took place after being taken into their new home.  Oh, and she kept possession of everything she brought to the marriage, this was her dowry.

These were the official standards and traditions for marriage.  But to Jesus it seems there was a different beginning to a marriage.  Marriage actually starts in the heart.  It starts when a woman or a man “wants” to marry.  When the very young man starts the process of betrothal he is essentially locked into the marriage.  He is not locked in by the law, but by his intentional desire.  So his heart better be leading the charge.  But his heart must remain true to righteousness.  Until he is married he must keep his heart, eyes, and hands in control.

There is no turning back once married in God’s eyes.  The two become one flesh.  Genesis 2:24.

A very interesting belief among Jews is that procreation is not the primary reason for marriage according to the oral law.  Companionship, love, and intimacy based on Genesis 2:18-24 and Exodus 21:10, are the primary reasons for marriage.  (Info on Jewish Marriage: http://www.jewfaq.org/marriage.htm, https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/marriage.html, http://www.wisereaction.org/ebooks/wenham_divorce_first.pdf)

And marriage is a covenant.  A covenant is a binding contract, usually formalized by the sharing of blood.  Though the marriage covenant was not sealed with blood, it was still held to this level.  Covenants can not be broken!  The penalty for breaking a covenant was death.     (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/4714-covenant, http://preceptaustin.org/the_covenant_of_marriage.htm, http://biblehub.com/concordance/c/covenant.htm)

This brings us to divorce and the issue of a written notice.  Deuteronomy 24:1-4, I will let you read the details, is the passage Jesus is talking about in 5:31.  Essentially Moses stated it was possible to write a notice of divorce to send the wife away, released from the contract of their marriage.  Unfortunately in Jewish society divorce was considered by the Oral Law as better than being stuck in a bad marriage.

The notice of divorce is called a “get” and can be written by the husband essentially for any reason according to the Oral Law.  The wife has very few conditions when she may write a “get”.  But the marriage contract had large penalties upon divorce including financial, social and spiritual.  The financial penalties are based on the man’s responsibilities required by the law to provide his wife with; food, clothing, and physical intimacy.  The financial penalties basically covered the woman for the rest of her life upon divorce.  And once she receives the “get” the marriage is over and she can marry again legally.  But scholars believe that divorce was actually quite rare.  The financial, social and spiritual consequences normally kept marriages together, formally if nothing else.

But as we see in the next verse Jesus has a different understanding of marriage, divorce, and adultery.

Warning:
The following is very challenging and we do not have time to talk about every detail of marriage, divorce, and adultery.  So today I will lay out what I believe was Jesus intent for a healthy marriage between two followers of Jesus according to God.

V32    32But I tell you, everyone who divorces his wife, except in a case of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Matthew 19:1-10, Mark 10:2-12 provide a more detailed explanation from Jesus about this verse.  Please turn to Matthew 19:4“Haven’t you read,” He replied, “that He who created them in the beginning made them male and female,” 5and He also said:
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? (Quoting Genesis 2:24)
6So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.” 7“Why then,” they asked Him, “did Moses command us to give divorce papers and to send her away? ”(Deuteronomy 24:1)
8He told them, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of the hardness of your hearts. But it was not like that from the beginning. 9And I tell you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
10His disciples said to Him, “If the relationship of a man with his wife is like this, it’s better not to marry! ”  11But He told them, “Not everyone can accept this saying, but only those it has been given to.
Wow, there is so much to be said about these verse.  But we will focus on the essentials.

When two things become one then something has to break for it to be made two again.  And normally this damages both parts.  God established marriage as a relationship of oneness.  Jesus taught that it is God Himself that makes a man and a woman one in marriage, 19:6.  If God puts us together in marriage, then it makes sense there will be sever consequences if we break what God put together.

Marriage is meant never to be broken during our lives on earth.  This is Jesus standard because this is God’s standard for marriage.

But from the beginning of the Jewish nation looked for loopholes.  And Jesus said Moses was given a loophole, because of the “hardness of their hearts”.

Jesus makes it clear that God did not establish the covenant of marriage with any loopholes from the beginning, 19:8.  Marriage to God is a holy bond, a covenant that is not to be broken.

So why did Jesus say there is one acceptable reason for divorce?  Because of the hardness of at least one of the marriage partner’s hearts.  The phrase sexual immorality Jesus used is very generic and covers any and all types of sexual sin.  So if one marriage partner commits sexual immorality they have already committed adultery in their heart and with their body.  Because adultery had been committed the covenant has been broken.  Once the covenant has been broken divorce is an option.  Well, it was sort of an option.  The penalty for adultery was death, both of the people caught in the act were to be killed.

Strict interpretation of this verse is that remarriage is not possible according to God.  And this must be our standard and goal for marriage.  So if it comes to divorce for one of our marriages, we can not marry again as a child of God.  Remarriage is not an acceptable option to God because in any and all instances it forces someone to commit adultery.  This is also Paul’s conclusion in 1 Corinthians 7:10I command the married— not I, but the Lord — a wife is not to leave her husband. 11But if she does leave, she must remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband — and a husband is not to leave his wife.

But the story does not end here, even for Paul.  You will need to read all of 1 Corinthians 7 and study it yourself, we do not have time now.  If you want help with this issue further see me or another believer you think can help you study this further.

Please keep in mind I am trying to lay out what I believe was Jesus intent for a healthy marriage according to God.

Never forget that with God there is always hope and grace for our previous choices.  There are many examples of married couples who have persevered through many trials including adultery.  God is able to restore us, but there will always be a consequence to sin.  God does not enjoy punishing sin, but He must.

The bottom line is the issue of purity.  We will study the last verse of chapter 5 and deal with this topic further.

Application
I believe Jesus purpose for teaching about this subject is very basic.  He is teaching us how to be the true children of God.  He is doing this by teaching God’s standards, God’s righteousness, the way God made everything from the beginning, God’s will for His children.

Jesus used some of the most important issues in life and reestablished how the true children of God are to be in the last part of chapter 5.  And He is teaching us that our being is related to our heart, our spiritual core.  Evidence of our spiritual core are our wants and desires, our hearts.

Paul taught it this way in Ephesians 5:1Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. 2And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. 3But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints. 4Coarse and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving thanks. 5For know and recognize this: Every sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of the Messiah and of God.

We are to be imitators of God.  And God NEVER breaks His covenants.  Psalm 105 7He is the LORD our God; His judgments govern the whole earth.  8He remembers His covenant forever, the promise He ordained for a thousand generations

I think a big problem in general is that we look to each other for who we are to imitate.  We generally base this on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6) and what seems practical and reasonable to us.  This way of setting standards has a downward spiral.  We tend to go from looking at a woman, to wanting more than looking until we start making plans …

Jesus is teaching us to base our standards on God’s standards.  For example God’s standard for marriage is one time and forever here on earth.  Any other view is not according to God’s standard, His original plan.

Practically speaking this breaks down to choices.  There is a lot more involved in imitating God and His standards, but choices are a big part.

I am pro choice!  Are you shocked?  Please let me explain because I don’t mean this in the context of abortion.  I believe God also is pro choice.  He made us to make choices.   I believe His standard is that we have one choice at a time and there are two possible outcomes.  A choice is like a fork in the road.  One way leads to righteousness, the other to unrighteousness.  So with each choice we either reap the benefits of righteousness or we suffer the consequences of unrighteousness.

Choosing to marry someone is a choice that starts in our heart.  And when this choice is made by an unmarried man who has set his sights and heart on an unmarried woman under God’s direction, this is a righteous endeavor.  And when a man and a woman both make this choice with each other, it is to be a life-long one-time choice.  Obviously if only one person chooses then it will not become a marriage.

I really appreciate what Oswald Chambers taught about this portion of the Sermon on the Mount.  Oswald taught that chapter 5:21-47 are about our “disposition”, another word for who we are.  Salvation is a change of disposition or nature – spiritual nature, who we are as becoming God’s children.  But he believed that practice was required to form habits that are God’s righteousness.  So our eyes must be trained to be under self-control.  That this is even possible is because of the Holy Spirit living in us and becoming a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17).

And Oswald taught that our training must be deliberate, decisive, and have no gaps.  He said we too often want to approach spiritual discipline as a gradual process.  He taught this is false.  Paul also made this point in 1 Corinthians 9.  He concludes the chapter by saying 24Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. 25Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away. 26Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. 27Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

Jesus is teaching the disciples that the children of God live by a different code or standard, God’s.  And Paul used this example of a race for the children of God.  God’s standard is based on aiming to win the prize.  God wants all of His children to aim for the very best in every part of our lives.  We are not to compromise or be satisfied with anything less than righteousness, God’s will.

Ok, testimony time.  My testimony about marriage.
We married when we were 20 and we had it all worked out.  Yea, right.
Our dating relationship was rocky, why did I expect things to change when we married.  But it continued to be clear that God was putting us together for a reason.  Still, marriage has been really hard for us.
But I remember when we married.  Denise told me that I could not tell her I loved her until I was ready to marry her.  And from that first time I said the words I believe we were married.  I didn’t know it at the time, but basically when I told her I loved her my heart was committed.
And although I have made marriage really, really, really hard in so many ways.  Divorce is not an option.  We have joked that murder is an option, but never divorce.  That is a joke by the way.

I became a Christian when I was 9 years old.  At 13 years old I made a decision to make Him Lord of my life, to give Him my all.  Since that time I have been held by God to His standard of righteousness.  To think of my life as a race like Paul taught.  Sadly too often I have been trying to sit in the stands of the stadium or resting somewhere on the field.  I too rarely have run the race as if to win!  But for the last 10 or so years I have been more intentionally in training.  I am running the race as if to win, though I fall down every once and a while.

So I made a commitment, a covenant under God to marry Denise.  No mater what I have no acceptable way as a follower of Jesus to break our covenant.

How is your race going?  Are you “running” as if to win?  Or are you even in the stadium.  Have you identified the parts of your life that are not under self-control and therefore not under God’s-control as well?  Are you offering those parts of your life to God?  Are you fighting those parts with God’s power in you?  Or have you given into temptation and given your heart away?  Giving your heart away outside of a righteous relationship is either adultery or idolatry and it is sin.

Jesus was speaking directly to everyone that day about marriage, divorce, and adultery.  Some were not married yet, some happily married, some probably struggling, and some had already given up.  Are you in an adulterous relationship right now?  This could be through the internet and looking at bad pictures or a real person in your life in the past or right now?

Please bow your head and close your eyes.  Search your heart.  If you are on the path of unrighteousness, I encourage you to repent of your sins and ask Jesus to restore you.  If you are on the path of righteousness, please pray for others who are struggling.  And if you feel like you are at a fork in the road.  I encourage you to ask Jesus to guide you, choose the way of righteousness.

Matthew 5:21-26

Sermon on the Mount
Matthew 5:21-26

Prayer

Please turn to 5:21-26

Testimonies of what God taught you about verses 21-26?

Introduction
This week starts a six week study of “You Have Heard” principles that Jesus taught the Disciples in the Sermon on the Mount.

In general I believe the first 20 verses of chapter 5 were Jesus giving the bare truths of who we are to be to be the children of God.  In these 20 verses He laid down the foundation or standards for who we are to be as followers of Jesus.  Starting with verse 21 Jesus is changing gears, moving to more detailed application of how we are to live out the first 20 verse.

So lets look into the first “you have heard” principle.

Read the verses

Verse 21.  21“You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment.

Does the phrase “do not murder” seem familiar?  It would have been familiar to the disciples and the crowds listening to Jesus, because this is the 6th of the 10 commandments.  In Deut. 5:17 it tells us Do not murder.

The disciples and the crowds would have known what Jesus meant when He taught murderers are subject to judgement.  How this worked in Jesus time was that a captured murderer was taken to a local judgment at a tribunal or court of seven local leaders.  If found guilty then this local judgment and the murderer were sent to Jerusalem to the Great Sanhedrin 71 leaders who would hear their case and a murderer found guilty would be sentenced to death.  Leviticus 24:21; Numbers 35:16

Verse 22  22But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Fool! ’ will be subject to the Sanhedrin. But whoever says, ‘You moron! ’ will be subject to hellfire.

Lets break this verse into three parts, part I
Verse 22 must have been a bit of a shock.  What, if I am angry I am as bad as a murderer?  And Jesus would have answered – YES.  But this does not mean that Jesus is saying murder and anger are the same.  If this would be true then Jesus is subject to judgement.  Mark 3:5After looking around at them with anger and sorrow at the hardness of their hearts.  There must be something more to what Jesus is teaching.

It is important to point out that Jesus is teaching anger against a brother or sister.  But what is Jesus really saying?  That if we are ever angry we deserve death.  Lets keep working through the verses and see if we can pull it all together in the end.

Part II of this verse Jesus adds two new elements.  And whoever says to his brother, ‘Fool! ’ will be subject to the Sanhedrin.  Remember the way people were judged in Jesus time?  The guilty were taken for judgement, then to the Sanhedrin for final earthly judgement.

The word Jesus used means= empty-headed or numskull and was a strong insult.  The insult was a direct attack on the person.  The specific word Jesus used is found only once in the Bible.  So maybe it is ok to call someone a fool in a different way.  In Proverbs we read a lot about people who are described as fools.  Luke 12:20 Jesus told a story about a man that God called – a fool.  So there must be a difference between stating a fact about a person’s actions and attacking the person.

Then Part III of the verse He adds two more new elements.  But whoever says, ‘You moron! ’ will be subject to hellfire.

So is this just one more insult we are not to call someone?  The word moron can also be translated fool.  It is describing a person who is mentally dull.  Not that they are incapable of thinking, but that they are thinking poorly as if they are brainless.

This must be really bad because you call someone moron and you deserve to go to hell.  Oh, and if you don’t put into practice what Jesus is teaching in the Sermon on the Mount – you are a moron or a fool!  Matthew 7:26But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
The word here for foolish man is the same as moron in 5:22.  The exact same word.  Oh and other examples of fools or morons are Matthew 23:17, 25:1-13, 1 Corinthians 3&4

So it is ok for Jesus to call people a moron and teach that His followers can’t call people a moron?  That would make Him a hypocrite and that is not possible.

So the problem is not in stating a fact or the exact word or name used for the insult itself, there must be something more.  Lets keep searching.
V23    23So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you,
V24    24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

So what does this have to do with being angry and calling people fools and morons?  The gift meant any offering to God and that is why it would be done at an alter.  Notice that the one offering the gift is to stop and evaluate their relationships.  Only after mutual resolution of a conflict is it possible to offer the gift.  Clearly God cares about our relationships with our brothers and sisters.

Oh, why would it be that someone would have something against us?  Probably because we did or said something to offend them in the first place.  So it makes sense that it is our responsibility to go and seek restoration of the relationship before offering a gift to God.

If you think about it Jesus is teaching us we can’t offer anything to God without living BeAttitude 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.   It looks like this is a great example of the BeAttitudes in action.

But I believe we still haven’t gotten to the heart of the issue.  Lets finish and see if it finally all comes together.

V25    25Reach a settlement quickly with your adversary while you’re on the way with him, or your adversary will hand you over to the judge, the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison.
&
V26    26I assure you: You will never get out of there until you have paid the last penny!

We really didn’t yet get our answer, but we did learn more about how to deal with conflict and problems between us and others.  Resolve conflicts quickly or it just gets worse!  I believe this is Jesus clear and concise advice.

Final Application

So what is Jesus teaching us?

Verse 20 “your righteousness must surpass the scribes and the Pharisees”.  I believe this is the pivotal verse to understand verses 21-26 and all of the rest of chapter 5.  The key is righteousness vs unrighteousness.

Righteousness starts with God’s control of our lives and leads to peacemaking, mercy, and encouraging other people no mater what they do or say to us.

Unrighteousness starts with our own desire for control and leads from anger to criticizing others which leads to attacking a person’s character that ultimately is the path toward murder.

Jesus is teaching us that taking the first step down this path is the moment of judgement for Jesus’ followers, not after we have physically murdered.

So how does this practically work in our lives?  I am glad you asked.  But please don’t believe that I have all the answers, I don’t.  I encourage you strongly to search for greater insight from the Lord to judge what I believe at this point.

I believe that Jesus said what He meant and meant what He said.  This is the bottom line and that He was quite literal as He taught.

When I am angry with someone then I am in sin and deserve judgement equal to murder.  How can this be true?  Because being angry with someone requires rejecting God’s will.  God expects us to forgive without conditions just as He forgives our sin against Him when we seek Salvation, Colossians 3:12-17.

Biblical scholar Mathew Henry wrote about this passage “All rash anger is heart murder.”

If we are angry then we have murdered the person in our heart.  Our deserved punishment is spiritual death.  Does this mean we are without hope?  No, we always have hope through Jesus.  God’s grace through Jesus is our only hope.

How does this work in practice.  I humbly submit my own experience this week with the “bicycle man”.  I don’t even remember what the man did, but I sure learned a lot through the experience.
What I do remember is that I thought – you idiot.  I was immediately reminded of verse 22 as I continued on my way, convicted of my thought.  I ask for forgiveness and help from the Lord to never do this again.  Then I continued to search my heart for why I jumped to that conclusion.

I had no right to call the bicycle man an idiot.  I have no idea what was going on in his mind at the moment.  And I realized I was not without fault in the situation.  I was traveling too quickly and a crash would have been mostly my fault.

I realize it really doesn’t mater why the bicycle man did what he did, or even that he did what he did.  What maters is my state of being at all times as a follower of Jesus.
I had two choices in the situation: the path of righteousness or go farther down the path of unrighteousness.  I sought forgiveness and the path of righteousness, this time.

Here is what the path of unrighteousness might have been like for this situation.  My anger could have led to stopping my bicycle as fast as possible.  My turning around and yelling at him in English something like you idiot (what I thought).  Maybe yell even louder and change to insults like you fool or you moron next.  Get back on my bicycle and right away.

But this is what probably would have happened if I had stopped.  I would have turned around and said you idiot in English.  He would have looked at me with a face that said – I have no idea what you just said.  But he would have understood my anger and my motive.  Then he probably would have said – prjeprasham with fear or guilt in his eyes.

In the past when I have chosen the path of anger, the path of unrighteousness this is how it has generally gone.  When my “performance” is over.  That is when my own guilt tends to flood over me like a cold shower.  This is the moment I want to crawl under a rock.  This is the moment I start trying to make excuses or justification for my actions.  But in the end I feel only shame.

Have you ever experienced this cascade of anger to shame.  Shame on me!  As a follower of Jesus.

Jesus taught that the path of anger is the same path as that of murder.  He taught that our guilt and sin are revealed the moment we become angry.  This is true because we became angry from our heart.  We become angry because something is wrong in our heart.  The anger is the indicator of what is in our heart, our state of being.

The first sign of anger may not be sin, but maybe an opportunity.  When we become frustrated, irritated, or in any way aggravated with someone this is the moment of decision.  For a believer we have no other choice but to recognize we are beginning the pathway of sin.  Frustration, irritation and aggravation are going to come, but we don’t have to give into them.  If we do give in then we are on the path of unrighteousness.

Paul taught us how to deal with our paths of anger, our paths of sin.  Romans 7:13-21So I discover this principle: When I want to do what is good, evil is with me. 22For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God’s law. 23But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body? 25I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin.

Our minds must become slaves, as was Paul’s, to the “law of God”.  I believe another way to say this is the “law of righteousness” that Jesus is teaching in the Sermon on the Mount.

Our flesh, our human nature, will never on this earth stop seeking the law of sin.  Anger is the indicator light of the law of sin in our flesh.  Our choice is to follow the law of sin, or to follow Jesus and the “law of God”.

I encourage you to close your eyes and review this last week.  Which law, God’s or sin, is ruling your life?  Examine yourself for the next few moments.  Are you “subject to judgement or worse today?  Verse 23  How would others evaluate your life if they had been observing you this week?

My hope is that you are experiencing the wonderful work of Jesus in your life and your self evaluation is growing in Christ.  If this is so then please pray for others who are not yet experiencing Jesus victory in their lives.

If your evaluation is that you are not experiencing the victory of Jesus, please don’t consider this evaluation based on condemnation.  If you are a follower of Jesus then He wants to teach you through every part of our lives.  If you are not a believer, then I encourage you to take this first critical step.  Please come and talk with me if you want to choose to follow Jesus.

But if there is a big difference then James would not have taught, James 1:19-20 My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.  For man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.

Becoming angry or frustrated or irritated is the danger signal!
Warning light in a car.
The light is not the problem, it I saying there is a problem somewhere else in the car that needs attention.

Becoming angry is not the sin – it is the moment of decision.
Choices: path of righteousness or path of destruction

Staying angry is choosing the path of sin that leads to destruction.
The warning light in the car!
Ignore it and next will come sounds before ultimate destruction.
Staying angry leads to calling people names
Calling someone a fool is not only judging them, it come from pride and anger in our hearts.  Calling someone a name shows the condition of our state of being.  Negative name calling comes from a negative state of being in ourselves – unrighteousness in our hearts.  Positive name calling also shows our positive state of being – righteousness in our hearts.  I would consider positive name calling things like: you are really talented, you have such a genuine smile, you are such a great helper.  Silence can be either way, but normally reveals we are under control and still directed by righteousness.

For the last few moments I encourage all of us to spend time with our heavenly father seeking His righteousness and work in our lives.

Notes
V21        21“You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment.
Do not murder     Exodus 20:13 & Deut 5:17        6th Commandment
Judgement = was probably the local court, lowest in Jewish civil system.
Definition: judging, judgment, decision, sentence; generally: divine judgment; accusation.
HELPS Word-studies
Cognate: 2920 krísis (a feminine noun derived from 2919 /krínō, “to separate, distinguish, judge”) – judgment, emphasizing its qualitative aspect that can apply either to a positive verdict (for righteousness) – or more commonly, a “negative” verdict which condemns the nature of sin that brings it on. See 2919 (krinō).
[2917 (kríma) stresses the results that go with a particular judgment (of blessing or pain depending on the choice).]
Barns Notes
Shall be in danger of – Shall be held guilty, and be punished by. The law of Moses declared that the murderer should be put to death, Leviticus 24:21; Numbers 35:16. It did not say, however, by whom this should be done, and it was left to the Jews to organize courts to have cognizance of such crimes, Deuteronomy 16:18.
The judgment – This was the tribunal that had cognizance of cases of murder, etc. It was a court that sat in each city or town, and consisted commonly of seven members. It was the lowest court among the Jews, and from it an appeal might be taken to the Sanhedrin.
V22    22But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. 
anger        Deut 7:4 God gets angry
Proverbs 14:16 A wise man is cautious and turns from evil, but a fool is easily angered and is careless.
Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.
Proverbs 15:18 A hot-tempered man stirs up conflict, but a man slow to anger calms strife.
Proverbs 19:19 A person with great anger bears the penalty; if you rescue him, you’ll have to do it again.
Proverbs 21:14 A secret gift soothes anger, and a covert bribe, fierce rage.
Proverbs 22:24 Don’t make friends with an angry man, and don’t be a companion of a hot-tempered man,
Proverbs 25:23 The north wind produces rain, and a backbiting tongue, angry looks.
Proverbs 27:4 Fury is cruel, and anger a flood, but who can withstand jealousy?
Proverbs 29:8 Mockers inflame a city, but the wise turn away anger.
Proverbs 29:11 A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man holds it in check.
Proverbs 29:22 An angry man stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered man increases rebellion.
Proverbs 30:33 For the churning of milk produces butter, and twisting a nose draws blood, and stirring up anger produces strife.
Ecclesiastes 7:9 Don’t let your spirit rush to be angry, for anger abides in the heart of fools.
Mark 3:5 After looking around at them with anger and sorrow at the hardness of their hearts, He told the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.
John 11:33 When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who had come with her crying, He was angry in His spirit and deeply moved.
Galatians 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions,
Ephesians 4:26 Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger,
Ephesians 4:31 All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice.
Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
James 1:19 My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger,
James 1:20 for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.

brother & sister biblically are true followers of Jesus.  They have become sons and daughters of God through Jesus.
my brother –  Matthew 12:46-50 (Mark 3, Luke 8,  [ True Relationships ] He was still speaking to the crowds when suddenly His mother and brothers were standing outside wanting to speak to Him.
Matthew 5:47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same?
Matthew 7:3 Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye?
Matthew 7:4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye?
Matthew 7:5 Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Matthew 18:15 [ Restoring a Brother ] “If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother.
Matthew 18:35 So My heavenly Father will also do to you if each of you does not forgive his brother from his heart.”
Matthew 19:29 And everyone who has left houses, brothers or sisters, father or mother, children, or fields because of My name will receive 100 times more and will inherit eternal life.
John 20:17 “Don’t cling to Me,” Jesus told her, “for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to My brothers and tell them that I am ascending to My Father and your Father—to My God and your God.”
In Romans many times followers of Jesus are called brothers.
1 Thessalonians 1:4 knowing your election, brothers loved by God.
1 Timothy 5:1 Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers,
1 Timothy 6:2 Those who have believing masters should not be disrespectful to them because they are brothers, but should serve them better, since those who benefit from their service are believers and dearly loved. [ False Doctrine and Human Greed ] Teach and encourage these things.

judgement    See v21And whoever says to his brother, ‘Fool! ’ will be subject to the Sanhedrin. 
brother    See above
fool        (raca)
Definition: empty, foolish.        only used once in the Bible
HELPS Word-studies
4469 rhaká (apparently related to the Aramaic term rōq, “empty”) – properly, empty-headed. This term expressed contempt for a man’s head, viewing him as stupid (without sense) – i.e. a “numbskull” who acts presumptuously and thoughtlessly (TDNT).
Sanhedrin        only has power of capitol punishment?
Local and the Great S. that met in the Temple.  The S. ended in 425 A.D.  71 religious leaders served daily as the Great S.  They were both a spiritual and a civil justice governing body.  http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/Sanhedrin.html

Jesus went before the S. in Matt 26:59.    Joseph of Aramathia was a member of the S., Nichodemus might also have been?

Jesus is teaching the offenders about righteousness.  The act or words indicate the state of the person related to righteousness.  Jesus concern is about the spiritual aspects of our person.  It is our spiritual condition that leads to our actions and words.
The standard of action and words Jesus set are very high and related to the reality of who we are.  We are either righteous, or not.
Jesus is also teaching about judging others.  This is a danger area that reveals the conditional also of our heart.
But whoever says, ‘You moron! ’ will be subject to hellfire.
moron        Definition: (a) adj: stupid, foolish, (b) noun: a fool.
HELPS Word-studies
3474 mōrós (the root of the English terms, “moron, moronic”) – properly, dull (insipid), flat (“without an edge”); (figuratively) “mentally inert”; dull in understanding; nonsensical (“moronic”), lacking a grip on reality (acting as though “brainless”).
[This root (mōr-) “properly refers to physical nerves causing one to become dull, sluggish (so Hipp., Aristotle); used of the mind, dull, stupid, foolish” (Abbott-Smith); “flat/insipid” (WS, 1062). 3474 (mōrós) is used ironically of apparent stupidity in 1 Cor 1;25,27, 3:18.]
Jesus called the Ps. this in Matthew 23:17Blind fools!ad For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that sanctified the gold?
Also story of the 10 Virgins Matthew 25:1-13
Paul teaches we must become foolish 1 Cor. 3 & 4
But we are this if we don’t live according to Jesus teaching – Matthew 7:24“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great! ”

The word or the statement of fact is not the issue.  Some people continue to reject God and they are fools.  Psalms 14:1  (need other verses)
The lesson Jesus is teaching is about who we are, and the reason a person says this to another.  This is believed to come from a strongly negative emotional state.  Believers are never to be in this state of being.  Either we are just angry and in sin, but also might be an issue of long-slow-burn that is eating the person inside.

hellfire        literally “hell of fire”
Definition: Gehenna, and originally the name of a valley or cavity near Jerusalem, a place underneath the earth, a place of punishment for evil.
HELPS Word-studies
1067 géenna (a transliteration of the Hebrew term, Gêhinnōm, “the valley of Hinnom”) – Gehenna, i.e. hell (also referred to as the “lake of fire” in Revelation).
Gehenna (“hell”), the place of post-resurrection torment (judgment), refers strictly to the everlasting abode of the unredeemed where they experience divine judgment in their individual resurrection-bodies. Each of the unredeemed receives one at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev 20:11-15), i.e. a body that “matches” their capacity for torment relating to their (unique) judgment.
Matthew 10:28Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Liable/Subject     Definition: involved in, held in, hence: liable, generally with dat. (or gen.) of the punishment.    held in, bound by, liable to (a condition, penalty or imputation)
NASB Translation    deserves (1), deserving (1), guilty (6), liable (1), subject (1).

Jesus is not teaching this is a possibility.  If we do these things it will be our eternity.  So we require God’s restoration whenever we do these things?

V23    23So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you,
“gift at the altar”    Gift = the most generic term for any gift.  Jesus was probably generically summing up all offerings and gifts that would be given to God on the alter in the temple.  A gift is offered not because it is required, but because of wanting to give it to bless the receiver.
In the disciples minds, as they heard this teaching, they were probably thinking about any and all temple offerings.

V24    24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Reconcile = (Aorist Imperative Passive)
Definition: I change, exchange; I reconcile, change enmity for friendship.
HELPS Word-studies
1259 diallássō (from 1223 /diá, “thoroughly,” intensifying 236 /allássō, “experience change”) – properly, to reconcile (reach mutual concession), i.e. where people in conflict come together through meaningful change (used only in Mt 5:24).  1259 /diallássō (“be reconciled”) ends needless hostility – an idea absent from 2644 /katallássō (so J. B. Lightfoot, Notes, 288).
This word reconciled is not the same as used by Paul to describe our being reconciled to God or between a husband and wife.  5:24 is a one time use.  It seems to describe a situation where there is mutual agreement related to a conflict.
Romans 5:10
NAS: while we were enemies we were reconciled to God
NAS: more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved
1 Corinthians 7:11
NAS: or else be reconciled to her husband),
2 Corinthians 5:18 
NAS: who reconciled us to Himself
2 Corinthians 5:19 
NAS: was in Christ reconciling the world
2 Corinthians 5:20 
NAS: of Christ, be reconciled to God.
This is BeAttitude 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.   It seems like a peacemaker for example would do what Jesus is teaching here.  We stop and reconcile before going any further.
The reason someone has something against us is that we have done something first against them!!  The problem in all of this is focused on us and not others.  Our relationship with others is our responsibility no mater what others say or do.

Application
The temple is destroyed with the sacrifices, but not gifts.  It is still clear that tithes and offerings financially are part of the life of a growing follower of Jesus.  And God doesn’t want “our money”.  Besides, it is not our money anyway as believers because we must realize God gave it to us, made it possible.  He lets us use it for His purpose ultimately.  (Another sermon).  He requires ourselves.  So when we are offering ourselves to Him as His children we must be aware of how we have sinned against others.
The teaching is about worship and connecting with God.  This is not possible when someone has something against us.  We must be in right relationship with our brothers and sisters here on earth before we can be bring our gift (offerings of worship, prayers, etc. ) to the Lord.

Reconcile = (Aorist Imperative Passive)
Definition: I change, exchange; I reconcile, change enmity for friendship.
HELPS Word-studies
1259 diallássō (from 1223 /diá, “thoroughly,” intensifying 236 /allássō, “experience change”) – properly, to reconcile (reach mutual concession), i.e. where people in conflict come together through meaningful change (used only in Mt 5:24).  1259 /diallássō (“be reconciled”) ends needless hostility – an idea absent from 2644 /katallássō (so J. B. Lightfoot, Notes, 288).
This word reconciled is not the same as used by Paul to describe our being reconciled to God or between a husband and wife.  5:24 is a one time use.  It seems to describe a situation where there is mutual agreement related to a conflict.
Romans 5:10
NAS: while we were enemies we were reconciled to God
NAS: more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved
1 Corinthians 7:11
NAS: or else be reconciled to her husband),
2 Corinthians 5:18 
NAS: who reconciled us to Himself
2 Corinthians 5:19 
NAS: was in Christ reconciling the world
2 Corinthians 5:20 
NAS: of Christ, be reconciled to God.
This is BeAttitude 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.   It seems like a peacemaker for example would do what Jesus is teaching here.  We stop and reconcile before going any further.
The reason someone has something against us is that we have done something first against them!!  The problem in all of this is focused on us and not others.  Our relationship with others is our responsibility no mater what others say or do.

Matthew 5:17-20 (notes only, I didn’t teach this Sunday)

Sermon on the Mount
Matthew 5:17-20

HCSV 17“Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. ESV  17“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.
Assume/think    The verb is more likely more than just to think.  3543 nomízō (from 3551 /nómos, “law”) – properly, to suppose (assume) that something applies (or is derived from); to assume a prevailing custom (law, practice).
It is thinking in the sense of coming to a conclusion related to assumed criteria.  The danger is going to the point of making a decision without all the information.  Jesus is making sure to set the disciples thinking on the right track.  This must have been an important detail, clarification for Jesus.  It would have been much easier to label Him a heretic if He had not made this clear.

Law        options: 10 Commandments, Mosaic, Rabbinic (oral), ?.  The law in Judaism are the Pentateuch, Torah.  The numeric value of the word “Torah” are 611 + the first two from the 10 Cs.  The first two were the only ones “spoken by God”, in Jewish belief?
God gave the 10 commandments and the rest were supposedly how to live the 10 in daily practical life.  But Jesus gave this detail in Matthew 19:1-12, “it was not this way in the beginning”, but “God permitted it because of hardness of hearts”.  But marriage is not one of the 10 Cs?
The laws of the Jews are commonly divided into moral, ceremonial, and judicial.   Moral are the natural laws that can not be changed: God’s love, etc.  Ceremonial are those things that can change related to how things are done: clothing, order of things, etc.  Judicial are related to courts and justice, they can be changed.

Prophets    are     Yehoshua (Joshua), Shoftim (Judges), Shmuel (I &II Samuel), Melakhim (I & II Kings), Yeshayah (Isaiah), Yirmyah (Jeremiah), Yechezqel (Ezekiel)
The Twelve (treated as one book): Hoshea (Hosea), Yoel (Joel), Amos, Ovadyah (Obadiah), Yonah (Jonah), Mikhah (Micah), Nachum, Chavaqquq (Habbakkuk), Tzefanyah (Zephaniah), Chaggai, Zekharyah (Zechariah), Malakhi

The Writings are:    Tehillim (Psalms), Mishlei (Proverbs), Iyov (Job), Shir Ha-Shirim (Song of Songs), Ruth, Eikhah (Lamentations), Qoheleth (the author’s name) (Ecclesiastes), Esther, Daniel, Ezra & Nechemyah (Nehemiah) (treated as one book), Divrei Ha-Yamim (The words of the days) (Chronicles)

fulfill        Jesus fulfilled 353 prophesies.  http://www.accordingtothescriptures.org/prophecy/353prophecies.html

Jesus is the promised Messiah, but He did not come and complete (fulfill or become) the Law and the prophets just as was expected.  There were assumptions that were not correct about what type of a person the Messiah would be.
Faith is required and yet it must not be blind faith.  God’s Word and the Holy Spirit are critical for understanding where faith is warranted and correct.

HCSV 18For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished.   ESV  18For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 
Heaven and earth are prophesied to be destroyed; Isaiah 65:17, 66:22.  And NT 2 Peter 3:10, Revelation 6:14
Heaven and earth will pass away when the new heaven and earth come.  2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1-    .  This will be when Jesus returns again to usher in the Kingdom of God.
The Law (Torah) is 100% in place until “all is accomplished”.
All things accomplished (become)    – 1096 gínomai – properly, to emerge, become, transitioning from one point (realm, condition) to another. 1096 (gínomai) fundamentally means “become” (becoming, became) so it is not an exact equivalent to the ordinary equative verb “to be” (is, was, will be) as with 1510 /eimí (1511 /eínai, 2258 /ēn).
1096 (ginomai) means “to become, and signifies a change of condition, state or place” (Vine, Unger, White, NT, 109).
M. Vincent, “1096 (gínomai) means to come into being/manifestation implying motion, movement, or growth” (at 2 Pet 1:4). Thus it is used for God’s actions as emerging from eternity and becoming (showing themselves) in time (physical space).
This is about a transition that must be finished, from one thing to another.
HCSV   19Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches people to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.   ESV  19Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 

Commandments – 1785 entolḗ (a feminine noun derived from 1722 /en, “in,” which intensifies 5056 /télos, “reach the end, consummation”) – properly, “in the end,” focusing on the end-result (objective) of a command.
[1785 /entolḗ (a feminine noun) highlights the nature of a specific order (charge), i.e. its “in-context objective.”]

HCSV   20For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  ESV  20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Surpass/exceeds, there are actually two words in Greek.  Surpass/exceed and above, so there may have been emphasis.  These apply to righteousness.
Definition: (a) intrans: I exceed the ordinary (the necessary), abound, overflow; am left over, (b) trans: I cause to abound.  4052 perisseúō (from 4012 /perí, “all-around” which indicates abundance or surplus) – properly, exceed, go beyond the expected measure, i.e. above and beyond (“more than . . . “); “what goes further (more), surpasses” (J. Thayer).

Short Definition: more, greater
Definition: more, greater, of higher value.  4119 pleíōn – the comparative (“-er” form) of 4183 /polýs (“great in number”) meaning “greater in quantity” (comparatively speaking); more than (numerically); abundant (greater in number).

Definition: (usually if not always in a Jewish atmosphere), justice, justness, righteousness, righteousness of which God is the source or author, but practically: a divine righteousness.
1343 dikaiosýnē (from 1349 /díkē, “a judicial verdict”) – properly, judicial approval (the verdict of approval); in the NT, the approval of God (“divine approval”).
1343 /dikaiosýnē (“divine approval”) is the regular NT term used for righteousness (“God’s judicial approval”). 1343 /dikaiosýnē (“the approval of God”) refers to what is deemed right by the Lord (after His examination), i.e. what is approved in His eyes.
Righteousness is what God approves, as Judge what is or was right and true.  It seems to me God has set a gauge, what is perfect and all other things are measured against it.    We are made righteous spiritually by Jesus through salvation.  Then are we expected to continue the path of growing in righteousness, or is it a one time thing at salvation?

Righteousness is who we are that results in what we do.  Our righteousness is Jesus!  Therefore what we do is to be what Jesus would do.

We surpass the spiritual leaders by faith in Jesus, receiving His salvation.  To some extent Salvation is our “ticket” to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Kingdom of Heaven is both now, in us, 5:3,10.  And heaven after all things have been accomplished.  I wonder if it really maters the details of what and where is the KofH?  It is likely we would focus on it if we knew too much.

We know how we get it: Matthew 5:3, 10.  If we focus on the being, the result will be the promise from God.