Lent 2022 Day 2
Thu 3 Mar
Matthew 5:17-20 Jesus and the Law I
17 ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. 18 For truly I tell you, 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.
19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practises and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
We may think that Jesus did away with the Law (of which the Ten Commandments is part), but he didn’t. For those of us who follow Jesus, we have a new way – Paul describes it in his usual detailed way in his letter to the new Church in Rome. I recommend chapter 8, a strong coffee and a notebook. For those who do not yet know salvation in Jesus the Law still stands, and will continue to stand. The Greek original of verse 18 mentions the letter iota (Hebrew yodh) for the smallest letter, and the Authorised (King James) Version of the Bible describes that as a jot and the stroke as a tittle. By using these terms Jesus is saying that the Law and the Prophets (i.e. the words of the prophets) stand in their entirety.
Jesus was speaking to Jews. For them there was the daily struggle to live according to the Law. It was not easy. Sin is a snare, but there are paths to forgiveness through sacrifice. If you have fifteen to twenty minutes you might like to follow the strivings of the young man in Psalm 119, who desires to live according to the Law – try this translation.
Jesus mentions the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees. We should not assume that all of them were charlatans. Many were devout and honest people. Note, however, that Jesus has raised the entry standard for the kingdom higher than what even they can manage!
How much do the other Abrahamic faiths (those that acknowledge Abraham/Ibrahim, i.e. Judaism and Islam) live and move under the Law?
Father God, I would want to be like the young man of the Psalm, ever striving to live by your Law, yet in Jesus I have a new way, by which I live in him, asserting nothing of myself but all of him. Keep me close to him, I pray. Amen.
Jot and tittle: