Clearing Up Misconceptions
Text: Matthew 5:17-20
Jesus knew the hearts of all men. He was aware of the fact that not all those who sat at his feet fully believed in Him. Some were even suspicious of His teachings. His approach to the Scriptures was so vastly different from others. To all who may have had doubts concerning His regard for the Scriptures, Jesus had this to say to them.
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law
or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil.”
Let us take time to ponder over what Jesus meant by making this statement.
1. The necessity of this declaration
Jesus had to allay the fears of those who listened to Him. His declaration would at least allow Him to state His theological stance concerning the Scriptures. Anyone who poses as a teacher of great spiritual truth must make his personal regard of the Word of God very clear.
2. Relationship to the Scriptures
The Jews held the highest regard for the Scriptures. The common phrase used to describe the Scriptures as a collective whole was “The Law and the Prophets”. Anyone who taught doctrines contrary to the Scriptures would be deemed guilty of “destroying” the sacred writ.
Jesus did not come merely to expound the Scriptures. Instead, He declared that He had come to “fulfil” the Scriptures. This was such a novel approach to the Scriptures, few fully appreciated what He meant!
3. Fulfilment of the Scriptures
What did Jesus mean when He said that He had come to fulfil the Law and the Prophets? Let us ponder over the following thoughts:
a) The Scriptures foretold His Coming
Prophecy must be fulfilled! The prophets had written much about the Messiah whom God would send to Israel. Jesus declared that He was the Messiah who had come to fulfil what the servants of God had prophesied.
b) The Scriptures prophesied about His life and ministry
Jesus was most conscious of what the Scriptures said. He lived out His life according to the teachings of the Law and the Prophets. How could He break the Scriptures when He had come to fulfil them? How clearly Jesus pointed out the Scriptures when He spoke at the local synagogue as He began His public ministry.
After reading the Scriptures taken from the Book of Isaiah, Jesus made this bold declaration.
“Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
c) Jesus embodied Deep Scriptural Truths
Did some think that Jesus was suspect because He handled the Scriptures so differently? They need not fear that He would set aside the Scriptures easily. We are surely reminded of a previous statement that Jesus made.
“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'”
The fulfilment of the Scriptures was to be found in the very life of Jesus Himself! He was the living Word!
A FURTHER WORD OF EXPLANATION
To forestall other possible misconceptions, Jesus made another important declaration concerning His view of the Scriptures.
“For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and
earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no
means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
What a high view of the Scriptures Jesus holds! Let us ponder what Jesus meant when He uttered this statement.
1. The Reference to “one jot and one tittle”
In order to appreciate what Jesus meant, we have to first understand what He said. The “jot” is a reference to the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet – the “yod”. The “tittle” is a reference to the small diacritic mark found in most languages, especially the Hebrew language. In English, the tittle would be the “dot on top of the letter ‘i’ or the crossing of the letter ‘t’. These little marks may not seem very significant, and yet Jesus said that these little details in the Scriptures would last longer than “heaven and earth”. They would pass away first before the jot and tittle can be done away with.
2. “Till all is fulfilled” – God will back His Own Word!
Once again, Jesus made reference to the fulfillment of the Scriptures. When God gives a word, He backs up that Word given. Ponder this word from Isaiah.
“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”