3rd Week of Lent – Wednesday
Matthew 5: 17- 19
In the 400 years of the absence of prophets in Israel, the Scribes and Pharisees became the interpreters of the law. All Jews were subject to the first five books of the Bible, which was commonly called the Torah and also to the Mishna which was a commentary on the Torah and also to the Talmud which was commentary on the Mishna. That’s a lot of interpretation; twisting people in a thousand knots of ‘you can’t do’s.’
Jesus clearly wants us to get back to the truth of God’s law and that’s why through the rest of chapter five He will say six times “you have heard it say…but I say to you.” He is not only going to expose the selective misinterpretation of the law by the Pharisees, but He will challenge His disciples to go beyond it, in the way they live it. That’s what it was for Jesus; not something written on stone, but a living law.
In contrast, Jesus words were plain and uncomplicated. His actions were liberating and perhaps this got the Pharisees really uptight. And so the whisper campaign began; “this man is here to ‘tear apart’ the law and the traditions.” Jesus, in answering them, clearly states He is not here to abolish or ‘kataluo’ (tear apart) the law, nor is He here to ‘oikodomeo’ (build any more). He uses the word pleroo, which means to fulfill, as in ‘to complete’.
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