* Editor’s note: (Because of the length of this scripture, some of the content has been omitted. Please read the scripture in its entirety in your bible)
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven……Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell…… You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.”
Human beings are legalists at heart. The human heart responds well to clear boundaries. By knowing what is required of us we can measure how good we are.
The crowds following Jesus had been taught the laws of Moses and knew they fell short of fulfilling those laws–yet Jesus told them they could still know and experience God’s blessing. Jesus was fulfilling the law perfectly and thus not doing away with it. Jesus focused on the heart from which actions flowed and not on external conformity which was what the Pharisees taught.
As the eldest child in the family, I was a rule follower, which I understand is a fairly common trait of the first-born. My early religious training focused on rituals which I followed but which left me with hollow satisfaction. I then experienced a church which taught strict adherence to word by word legalism of the Bible. At first this satisfied my rule; following tendencies but left little room for joy in knowing God’s grace.
I am reminded of the little girl who defiantly stood up in the car. She obeyed under threat of punishment but voiced her heart’s reaction, “I’m sitting down on the outside but standing up on the inside!”
Jesus fulfilled the Law of Moses and the prophets and replaced it with heart-driven spiritual law. We are encouraged to think, act, and respond, thus live His life in ours–living lives changed by GRACE and not just an outward show?
– Submitted by Barbara Sharp