17 “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. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
We’ve seen the beatitudes, we understand our functions as salt and light…how did we jump to the law?
It’s very significant to understand that up until this point we’ve been shown what we are as born again believers, this being so, we must remember the reality of this salvation. NOW THIS IS HOW IT IS TO BE DONE! This is the theme until we get to 7:14.1 Verses 17-18 make the case propositionally that everything Jesus is going to teach us is in absolute harmony with the Old Testament Scriptures. The second proposition in verses 19-20 reveal that everything Jesus is going to teach us is in total disagreement with the Scribes and Pharisees. Jones makes the maxim that “Those are two great pronouncements and they are important, because we shall never understand the record of our Lord’s life which we have in the four Gospels, unless we grasp these two principles.”2
We will also notice as we continue that Jesus did not make just positive statements, He also made negative ones. He didn’t just state His doctrine, He spoke against false doctrine. This mentality is opposed often in terms of we just want to speak positively, but if Jesus contended, and He is our example, we to must contend and be critical of un-truth or partial truths (aka lies). This falls into the category of contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). Not for the sake of being critical, but if truth mattered to Jesus, it must then matter to us.
So set the stage in your mind, Jesus is fresh on the scene. He has not gone to the great schools of the day. He is opposing what the Scribes and Pharisees (the religious of the day) are teaching, all the while hanging out with sinners. Does He really believe the Old Testament Scriptures? Evidently, as He is explaining He did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, He came to fulfill them. The Greek conjunction ἤ (or), means that He affirmed fidelity to the entirey of the Old Testament. If one accused Him of denying either the Law or the Prophets, any part of the Old Testament, His response was negatory!! He came to literally carry them out, to actually fulfill them right down to the last jot and tittle.
The opinions vary as to what Jesus fulfilling the OT Law or Prophets actually means. There are theories that may be true but ultimately misleading. Yes, Jesus obeyed the OT commands perfectly, and yes He came that He may impart the Holy Spirit to those who believe but I’m not sure that’s what He meant by fulfilling the OT Law or Prophets. I believe Boice hits the nail on the head when He states “Jesus came not primarily to live in us by his Spirit, not primarily to obey the law, by keeping it perfectly – although these things are also true – but to die and in dying to cancel the claims of the law against all who would receive him as their Savior”.3 This reality will be confirmed as He weighs through the Pharisees and Scribes bad interpretation (relaxing) of Scripture in future weeks.
I hope you are enjoying the Sermon on the Mount as much as I am.
1Lloyd Jones, SITSOTM, p 157
2Lloyd Jones, SITSOTM, p 158
3James Montgomery Boice, The Sermon on the Mount, p 80