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. 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. 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 practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 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 all resist following the rules. That’s the nature of sin in our hearts. We resent being told what to do and being held accountable for the ways we break the rules. Part of the challenge of our current stay-at-home world is our resistance to be told what to do. We might know it’s for our own good and for the sake of protecting other, more vulnerable people. We might fully appreciate the health risks, but there’s still part of us, especially as freedom-loving Americans, that doesn’t like being told what we can and can’t do.
“The Law” Jesus was referring to is recorded in the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. “The Prophets” brings in much of the rest of the Old Testament. Of course, the New Testament had not yet been written, so in a shorthand way, Jesus was saying that we must obey all of scripture. We don’t get to pick and choose the parts we like and the parts we will just ignore. Obedience and righteousness don’t work that way. All of God’s word, even the hard parts, reveal who God is and how He wants us to live. Jesus came to fulfill it all, to be the one perfectly obedient follower of God’s word.
At the same time, Jesus knew we would fall short of his standard of perfection, and while he doesn’t let us off the hook in terms of what God expects from us, Jesus came into this world to deal with our imperfection, with our sinfulness, with all the ways we resist following the rules. Jesus came to die for our sin and set us free. Freedom in Christ doesn’t give us license to break more rules; it gives us grace to get back up and try again to be righteous and good, knowing that we are forgiven by a loving God, not condemned by a vengeful one. The good news of Jesus is that through His death and resurrection, God declares us righteous, perfect and pure in his sight.
Gracious Father, thank You for sending Jesus to die for my sins and offer me eternal life. Forgive me for breaking Your rules. Help me to honor You in all I do and to love others in Jesus’ name. I ask this through my Savior, Jesus. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian