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. Matthew 5:17
Jesus’s famous Sermon on the Mount continues, addressing some of the laws. For thousands of years the Jewish people have been chasing after laws to try to be right with God; to please Him. There were laws given to Moses from God, and many more the Jewish leaders created themselves over the years. The law had replaced love of God as THE THING. They believed they could save and elevate themselves if they could just more diligently follow all the laws.
Jesus is trying to tell them (and us!) it isn’t about the laws or the world’s definition of blessing; it is about the condition of your heart. It is deeper than commandments written on tablets or paper; it is what is inside you.
You say you haven’t murdered anyone? Jesus says, have you ever been angry with your brother? Same thing. Uh oh.
You say you haven’t committed adultery? Jesus says, have you ever looked at anyone with desire? Then guilty.
He tells them to scrap the old ideas of retaliation and instead turn the other cheek. Give generously. Go the extra mile.
Jesus tells them that He did not come to abolish the law (“or the prophets,” representing the prophesies) with these words and His life, but to fulfill them. The law isn’t obsolete, but He is teaching a different way to follow it...by following HIM.
Jesus is teaching that we need to work on our hearts, not the law. Out of this heart transformation obedience flows. It isn’t about trying harder; it is about loving more...loving God and loving others. Where we could never accomplish truly righteous living in our own power, Jesus came to do that for us. He came to fulfill what no one else could.
Questions: What is the difference between obediently following God’s commandments and following out of a pure heart? Do you think it is impossible to consistently follow them if our hearts are not right?