“I tell you the truth…” Matthew 5:18
In this era of fake news, false reporting of crimes, illusions of propriety abound. It’s getting to the point one can hardly discern between the truth and a lie. Recent events have proven that we as a society are quick to fall for stories fed to us through multiple media outlets. The truth is becoming increasingly more challenging to identify.
Today, we embark upon an interesting study which I hope you will find intriguing and inspiring. We will be investigating the use of a simple five-word phrase used over seventy times in the New Testament, most of which come directly from Jesus’ teaching. The five words we will be searching for are: “I tell you the truth…”. The phrase will be shortened to an abbreviation – ITYTT. I believe, and hope to convey, that each time Jesus used ITYTT, He was not merely exercising some overused, idiomatic expression, rather He was identifying an eternal truth. Therefore, we should take closer notice of each instance our Savior employed these words. The first time we find ITYTT, Jesus is delivering His sermon on the mount. Jesus declared He had not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill ‘them’: ITYTT, “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.” (Matthew 5:18, NIV)
This leads us to consider the scope of Jesus’ statement. He first states that He did not come to abolish the law. This remark is profound as it lends validity and authority to the law at that time. To abolish the law would be equivalent to giving up on Israel altogether. It was through Israel, God gave The Ten Commandments to the world. The Law was given to expose man’s sin and rebellion against God, Who threatened to dispense with His people when every person was doing what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25) Jesus stated that He came to fulfill The Law, meaning that He came to fulfill every letter of the law’s demands requiring atonement for sin. The sin offerings of that day directly reflected Levitical law:
“The priest shall make atonement for him for the sin which he committed, and he shall be forgiven.” (Leviticus 4:35)
Sin pollutes one’s life mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. From the moment Adam and Eve violated God’s mandate not to eat from the tree of knowledge, sin entered this world, and into man’s nature. The moment sin entered the picture it created a seismic universal impact on God’s creation and upon mankind. Sin became the signature of a fallen race – the human race. However, this event did not take God by surprise, neither was He unprepared to deal with the problem.
Jesus, our High Priest, was, Is, and forever will be our sin offering. Jesus taught His disciples and those who listened to Him in the temple that they would all understand once He had been “lifted up”. He was not shy about His identity being the very Son of God. (Read John 8:12-20) Jesus testified that he always did what pleased the Father (John 8:29), so we must conclude that, quite literally, the wrath of God was satisfied (Romans 5:9). God was pleased to show all the imps of darkness that His provision to redeem the fallen race of man was completely met through Christ, Who was lifted up on a cross to die for the sins of man. (John Piper provided an excellent perspective on this in his November 4, 2014 blog entitled, “Five Truths About the Wrath of God”.)
Why must we recognize ourselves to be sinners? The apostle John again provides us insight into the sin problem of man. In his first letter to Christians throughout the Roman Empire, John explained that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all (no evil, no duplicity, no potential to do wrong). Man, however, has inherited the curse of sin. John stated that if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. The biggest lies we tend to believe are the lies we tell to our-self. (1 John 1:5-8)
Jesus asserted that as those who walk by faith embrace His teachings, they would know the truth and the truth would set them free. (John 8:31-32) When we embrace the teachings of Christ, we are free from the power… the grip… the hold of sin in our lives. We are truly set free. This is the eternal truth we have been given today: Jesus is our one and only sacrifice. He paid our sin debt, meeting the letter of the law, and restoring us to The Father.
Have a blessed day…