Jesus is going to teach one profound thing after another in the weeks to come. Life giving, gut wrenching, spirit challenging, mentally stimulating, life changing, in your face leading, disciple weeding… I could go on.
Our text for Sunday is Matthew 5:17-20. Jesus teaches in a Jewish context with a large mixed group of people that, “He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it.” What did he say? First, it sounds like he claimed to have some super authority to be an expert on the law. Second, sounds kind of arrogant to also claim that YOU, meaning HIM, personally can fulfill the law. Third, the law (TORAH) is held in utmost honor, and who is Jesus to even comment on it or mess with its understanding.
The ironic thing about Jesus words is he doesn’t say anything new about the Law itself. God’s intention when giving the 10 commandments or any Old Testament law, from the beginning, was to write God’s law on our hearts. Jesus goes on to affirm the Law of God in three ways in just a couple sentences. And then, lowers the boom, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” WOW! Talk about an impossible saying… and that’s the point… It’s impossible!
In this irony, is Jesus point… The law of God is good, it is to be followed and obeyed. But its not about the outward life of obedience primarily – its about the obedience that springs from the ‘inside-out.’ (From the heart…) And in this, Jesus fulfills the law. More on that Sunday.
We tend to see rules, regulations and laws as restrictions leading to constrictions of freedom. But God’s gracious boundaries (laws) are meant to increase freedom, not limit it. When it comes to law, we tend to be ‘libertarian’ or ‘legalistic.’ And Jesus provides, teaches, lives, and fulfills a third way to live with God’s law.
Can’t wait ’til Sunday, the Word of God (law) is “sweeter than honey and more precious than gold. By them your servant is warned and in keeping them there is great reward.” (Psalm 19:10-11)