Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sermon on the Mount 3: The Law and the Prophets

Scripture: Matthew 5:17-20

Focus: Fulfill

Reflection: Perhaps it came as some reassurance for those listening that Jesus was not go make an attempt to abolish the law. Maybe there was a rumor running about that he had some plan or was making some effort to do away with the law. It would make sense since he was often accused of breaking it.

And yet, there is an irony, and exposing irony that resides in the need to make a claim that he was not going to abolish the law. The irony is that he was living the the law as the law was meant to function in the life of a person. And when he did that, it looked like he was breaking the law.

It begs the question: What had people done to the law such that when a person actually lived the law it appeared as though he was breaking the law?

Jesus not only had to claim not to be about subverting the law, but also had to make the claim that he was fulfilling it. This could have meaning on more than one level. On one level it could men that he came to practice it in the way that it was meant to be practiced. As if to say when someone lives by the law, their life looks like this life that I am living. This was revolutionary enough since so many people didn’t’ recognize his law abiding life as such.

Another level of meaning to fulfilling the law is potentially more exciting/troublesome. When something is fulfilled, it is brought to its intended completion. Was Jesus saying that he was going to bring the law to its natural and intended completion? If so, then how is that different than abolishing it? I wonder, did this sound like double speak? Does fulfilling the law cause the same angst as abolishing it? It may feel the same to anyone who is not interested in change. Jesus was interested in nothing else but change.

Jesus makes a radical claim here, one that could only be made by a legitimate figure, notably the son of God. The challenge for Jesus was that merely being the son of God did not give him son of God status with most people. But how else do you make known your identity when you’re in flesh and blood like everyone else? You say things and then you do them.

In making the fulfillment claim, Jesus is starting something.

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