King Jesus’ words to the Jews spoken from the Mount of Olives give the details of His coming kingdom. King Jesus was born into the world having a human body with Jewish DNA from His mother Mary, the daughter of a Jewish man named Heli (Lk. 3:23). King Jesus received no DNA from his adopted dad, Joseph. His paternal DNA came from the Holy Spirit (Lk. 1:35). He lived His earthly life as a Jew; He died as a Jew; and He rose from the dead as a Jew. He ascended into heaven as a Jew.
Jesus sat down at His Father’s right hand in His glorified body as a Jew with nail scars still in His hands and feet. He is coming to reign over an earthly kingdom in His glorified body as a Jew. He will never become a part of another people group. The magi recognized this, asking “Where is He that is born king of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2). Even though the Jewish authorities rejected Him as their King, and still do, He remains their King to this day, nonetheless.
Jesus remains the King of the Jews. This is, no doubt, why the Jewish people remain the “apple of His eye” and a people that God treasures. Zechariah said: “For thus says the Lord of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you [Jews] touches the apple of His eye.” (Zechariah 2:8)
As long as the sun and the moon shine in the sky, the Jews are faithful witnesses that David’s seed through Judah, remains.
“Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me; It shall be established forever like the moon, even like the faithful witness in the sky.” (Psalm 89:36-37)
I agree with Dr. J. Vernon McGee when he says that the primary purpose for the Sermon on the Mount is to set before Jewish citizens the laws of the King and His kingdom. Jesus first mentioned kingdom citizens in the beatitudes. The beatitudes spell out the King’s requirements to be happy in the kingdom (Matt. 5:2-12).
Then the King immediately gave forth His laws governing His coming kingdom. His requirements are very much like Yahweh’s commands given to Moses at Sinai. That the King is pulling the law back into the picture becomes clear by His words, “Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matt. 5:17-18).
Christ fulfilled the law in that He kept it perfectly in every detail. And He took its curse in full when He died on the cross (Gal. 3:13; Deut. 21:22-23). The Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes had watered down and twisted the true meaning of the law so as to make it doable through their self-invented religious system called Judaism. They had produced a religious bondage worse than the brick pits of Egypt.
The King removed this misunderstanding with His words “you have heard it taught, but I say to you.” He repeated much of the Mosaic Law, kicking the meaning of the law up to God’s standard. “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:19).
God’s law will be the King’s standard for life in the kingdom. This writer had twinges of guilt just reading through the King’s mandates. This is exactly the design of the Mosaic Law. God’s law was never intended to make a bad man good or a good man better. The law was like a rock being thrown at a hornet’s nest – the law as the rock and the hornet’s nest as the sin nature within all of us. The law is designed to stir up sin, reveal our need, and point us to Christ where there is true forgiveness. The Ten Commands need to the preached today, not to save, but to reveal sin and point to Christ who can save. No doubt, the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes were listening in as the King spoke, and it began to stir up anger in them toward Him.
Having spoken of God’s law, the King then emphasized the righteousness that God required. “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). The most religious people that the Jews knew anything about were the scribes and Pharisees. They considered this religious group to be the very pinnacle of righteousness. The idea of exceeding their righteousness brought God’s standard of absolute righteousness back into the picture. Like Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost said, Christ’s Sermon on the Mount brought the need for a righteousness before God that hearers knew they could never reach by their works. The people listening knew that they could not match the righteousness of the Pharisees, much less exceed it.
The righteousness necessary to have life eternal comes only through the shed blood of Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit baptizing believers into Him (1 Cor. 12:13). The moment we believe in Christ, the Holy Spirit baptizes us into Christ and instantly His life becomes our life (1 John 5:11). His relationship to the Father becomes our relationship to the Father (John 1:12). All racial, religious, cultural, and social barriers are broken down. We become a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). And finally, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us who are in Christ (Phil. 3:9; 2 Cor. 5:21).