Summary: From Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells how He didn't come to destroy the law or prophets, but to fulfill them.
The Sermon on the Mount
“Jesus, the Law, and Believers”
As we proceed in our study of the Bible and Jesus’ teaching it’s important to understand His authority and His relationship to the Old Testament Scriptures.
In our study tonight we’ll see that Jesus neither abolishes nor cancels out of the Old Testament. Rather, what’s we’ll see is that He corrects misinterpretations by presenting the passages’ true meaning. So let’s read our passage.
Read Matthew 5:17-20
Jesus begins by saying,
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17 NKJV)
Right off the bat Jesus is makes it clear that He wants to remove any and all doubt or potential misunderstanding that may arise over what He has been teaching. Jesus doesn’t want there to be any fuzziness in this regard.
He’s saying that He didn’t come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it. The word, “destroy,” here means to tear down, abolish, annual, or to make invalid. So in the beginning of His ministry Jesus denies that His purpose or mission was to abolish or to invalidate the Holy Scriptures; rather His mission and purpose was to fulfill them.
What I’ve found sad is that many Christians today are trying to do the exact opposite. You hear it in statements like, “That’s the Old Testament.” This has been used in doctrines like the giving of the tithe, fasting, or anything that we don’t like or don’t want to do.
But there exists a basic principle of interpretation that states if a custom or law no longer applies given the culture one lives in, it becomes imperative to find the principles behind it so it can be transferred.
This is especially true when it comes to the Bible and our understanding of the New Testament in relation to the Old Testament.
Here’s one that’ll wet your whistle and we’ll look more fully at this in a couple of weeks. The Law states that a person who commits adultery was to be put to death, Leviticus 20:10.
Today, in our country at least, we don’t put people to death for adultery. How then are we to reconcile this Law of God?
What was the principle behind the law that we can transfer? Let me present this, if the person who committed adultery was put to death, what this would do would free the innocent spouse from the marriage, because that is what death does, it would allow for remarriage.
Therefore, since we don’t put people to death, and since the New Testament says divorce for marital infidelity was permissible, what this effectively does is frees the innocent spouse.
I know this opens up a can of worms without a fuller understanding, but you’re just going to have to wait until this part of Jesus’ sermon.
Jesus didn’t come to invalidate the law; rather He came to fulfill it. Jesus came not to annul the Old Testament Scriptures, rather to bring them to their intended goal, to it’s intended meaning regarding their Messianic fulfillment.