Jesus on the Law!


Jesus declared that He had not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17). Why then, do so many Christians believe that they are exempt from the Law? Jesus opposed only that part of the legal system that had replaced the Law and the Word of God with traditions (John 7:19). Their traditions and wrong application of the Sabbath Law and rituals placed Jesus outside Jewish legalism. One could rescue an animal on the Sabbath, but not heal a human being (Matthew 12:11-12).

There is a sharp distinction between the Jewish Law and the Ten Commandments (Matthew 5:19). The Law (Nomos or Thorah) was the Pentateuch and it contained the Ten Commandments (entole, mazuh), only they had taken a back seat to rituals and traditions (Matthew 15:1-9). The name Moses was synonymous with the Law (John 5:46). The Prophets, in addition to the major and minor prophets, were scattered in Samuel, Kings and Chronicles. The Psalms were basically David’s. Together, Jesus referred to them as the Scriptures (graphas John 5:39). What then did Jesus come to fulfill? His arrival and mission fulfilled the predictions of the Law and the Prophets (Luke 4:17-21; Matthew 11:9-14; John 1:29-34).

Concerning the Big Ten Commandments, Jesus regarded them as essential for His followers being in the Kingdom on earth (Matthew 5:19-20). A young noble man asked how he could earn eternal life and Jesus specifically asked whether he had obeyed the Commandments. Jesus mentioned murder, adultery, stealing, false testimony, honoring parents, and loving a neighbor (Matthew 19:16-19). The Pharisees no longer honored their parents and their tradition nullified the Word of God (Matthew 15:1-6). The same was true of marriage. Divorce was an option for Moses, but not for God (Matthew 19:3-9; Exodus 20:14, 17). A person that loved a neighbor as much as God or him/her self was not far from the Kingdom (Mark 12:28-34; Matthew 22:34-40). And so was the stranger that went out of his way to care for another stranger (Luke 10:25-37). Love for one self was greatest when one laid down a life for others (John 15:13). And that was the command Jesus wanted his followers to practice (John 13:34; 14:15; 15:14-17). In that sense, He wanted Christians to go beyond the Big Ten Commandments (Matthew 5:17-48). The followers of Christ are not exempt from the Big Ten Commandments; rather, they, like their Lord, must practice forgiveness, mercy, justice, righteousness, and a host of additional things. Far too many just want to get by, just by their skin on their teeth (Matthew 5:19-20). Jesus came to fulfill the Law, dare we to disobey it?