Welcome to A Journey through the New Testament! In this series, we will systematically journey through every chapter in the New Testament, unveiling the marvelous insights that can be found in the scriptures.
Yesterday, we delved into the law and the prophets, specifically focusing on a subset: the rules and regulations outlined in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. These laws served multifaceted purposes—to bring order to the nation, foreshadow the coming Christ, and distinguish the Jews from other nations.
It's crucial to remember that during His earthly ministry, Jesus primarily ministered to the Jews. Despite being God in the flesh, His earthly body was Jewish (Galatians 4:4), subject to the Old Covenant given to Moses. While Jesus aimed to establish a New Covenant, He respected the existing Old Covenant during His time among the Jews.
Addressing the Jewish audience, Jesus declared in Matthew 5:17-20:
17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
While Jesus respected the laws governing the people, His emphasis was on reinstating the eternal righteousness established by God through Moses—a righteousness that would endure even in the days of the church.
Jesus specifically critiqued those, like the Scribes and Pharisees, who broke commandments and taught others to do so. The subsequent context of the chapter exposes the deviation of the Scribes and Pharisees from God's true righteousness, replacing it with customs and personal preferences.
Jesus concludes in verse 20:
20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Understanding that His ministry extended beyond the Jews, Jesus preached about the righteousness of the law, distinct from the regulations. The Church, not bound by the Jewish rules, is called to embody righteousness, encapsulated in love.
Written by Kareem Flowers, Sunrise with Jesus