Fulfilment of the Law

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.
Matthew 5:17 (NIV)

Read: Matthew 5:17-32

Consider: Jesus was careful to reinforce that he had come not to abolish the Law, but to fulfil it.  It is important to remember that the Law was apparent in three areas: Ceremonial (the sacrificial system) – Leviticus; Civil (organisation of society) – Deuteronomy; Moral (the commandments) – Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.

Jesus Christ has fulfilled the Sacrificial Law by becoming a once for all sacrifice for the sins of the world.  The writer of Hebrews covers this saying: The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves.  For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship (Hebrews 10:1).  Speaking of Jesus as our high priest he says: Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people.  He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself (Hebrews 7:27).  Can you see that Jesus is not only the sacrificial lamb, but also the high priest who offers it?

There may be aspects of the Civil Law that are just as relevant to us today, as they were when Moses spoke to the Jews before they entered the promised land – obedience to God, not worshipping idols, etc.  However, there are other things, such as cities of refuge, clean and unclean foods, keeping of Jewish festivals, etc. that no longer apply to us as Christians. Notice that before Moses outlined the Civil Law, he reinforced the necessity to obey the ten commandments as first recorded in Exodus 20.  Moses, in setting out the Civil Law, was not setting aside the Moral Law that God had laid down.  He was giving it first priority, as something that the people should conform to in their daily lives.  The ten commandments, as laid down in Exodus 20, are still relevant to us today and set out a moral code that honours both God and our fellow men and women.  

In today’s reading from Matthew 5 Jesus adds both to the Moral and the Civil Law when he extends their meaning to include both how we act outwardly, as well as what is going on in our hearts.  Jesus uses two illustrations to show that murder (sixth commandment) and adultery (seventh commandment) aren’t just about the physical act, but also about our thought patterns.  He adds to the meaning of the Civil Law when he speaks of divorce, oaths, eye for eye and love for our enemies (Matthew 5:33-48).  In doing so, Jesus shows that keeping the Law is not about adherence to a set of rules and regulations, but rather a change of heart that brings a rebellious heart under willing submission and obedience to God.

Pray: Father, we see that there are many aspects of the Law that we cannot ignore, but which we should willingly keep, because we are under your rule and authority.   Show us where we are purely keeping rules and regulations, rather than submitting to you.  May the Holy Spirit work in us, giving us the strength to resist temptation when it comes.  Amen

Every blessing

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