THE FULFILLMENT OF THE LAW
“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.’” – Mt. 5:17-18
This is a passage that highlights both the division of the time of Jesus as well as our own. To give a little context, Jesus has just finished giving the Beatitudes - guidelines for people on how to live good lives. After living with the Mosaic Laws for over 1,000 years, Jesus comes in with something new and calls it a “fulfillment.” Does the Law of Moses no longer matter? How should we, today, hold those laws that governed purity, holiness, and social norms?
This situation in Matthew’s Gospel is alive and well today. The tension between the Old Testament and New is still very much a reality. The prevalence of Biblical fundamentalism in Christianity continues to push the debate to the forefront of our lives socially, religiously, and politically. We face important questions that have become spotlights within the faith. Concerns regarding people who identify as LGBTQ are as hotly debated as they have ever been. Social concerns, like the prison system and the use of capital punishment, are still justified though the Old Testament. Yet, are not these issues of the Law that was supposedly fulfilled? So, what are we left?
I have found the scriptures today very difficult to wrestle with, as these are questions that constantly weigh on my heart. I don’t know if I have adequate answers, but I do think that holding the Beatitudes along with the Law helps to ease some of that weight. I don’t think that we can approach the great injustices in our world without the law of the Old Testament and its fulfillment in Christ. While the Mosaic Laws were once sufficient, they were given to a particular people with a particular purpose. It is Jesus, and the deep compassion He brings, who comes to illuminate us on that purpose: mercy, righteousness, comforting, peace, and faithfulness. Those are truly the themes that are intended by the law. Without those, we lose sight of why God gave Moses the Law in the first place: too grow in deeper relationship with God.
What injustices burn in my heart today?
Are there laws that continue to support those injustices?
What can I do to help end injustice to bring about a more compassionate society?