Some people in Jesus’ day clearly thought that Jesus had come to abolish all the rules. For some, I’m sure, this was great. Because they were feeling horribly burdened by the rules.
I might empathize with this. In the 3rd century AD, the rabbi Simlai is said to have counted 613 various commandments that had been given to the Israelites by God. These covered various aspects of moral, ceremonial and civil law.
One can imagine that some thought it would be really, really nice to be done with knowing, tracking, and especially feeling responsible to obey that many laws.
But in his well-known Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his disciples and the onlookers gathered around them that he did not come to abolish the law, but rather to fulfill it.
I don’t know if you realize how big that statement is. It’s huge.
It’s Jesus saying there’s a whole different approach to lifting the burden of keeping all the rules. It’s Jesus saying, “I’ve come to do it for you.”
In other words, I’ll be your substitute. I’ll take care of it. I’ll obey all the laws, and you can simply take home the benefit and blessing of my obedience for you.
That’s really good news. I don’t know about you, but I don’t fare so well when it comes to keeping even 10 commandments.
I appreciate it when someone takes care of something I have no clue how to do myself. I absolutely love it when someone goes ahead and does a job I know I’m completely powerless to do.
“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” (Matthew 5:17, NIV).
Thank you, Jesus, for coming not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Thank you for lifting the burden of obedience, and the load of guilt and shame that often comes with having to carry that burden all by ourselves. You carried it for me, and for that I praise and worship you as my Savior!
Our Bible reading for Monday, January 5, is Genesis 9:18 – 11:9, Matthew 4:23 – 5:20 and Psalm 4:1-8.