What I want to talk about today is how Jesus understood who and what he was in relationship to the Mosaic Law. As i mentioned in the previous post, The Pauline Tradition has distorted/misunderstood this relationship. The following quote from Matthew will serve as the basis for how I believe Jesus understood his role within Judaism.
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
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.
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.
What follows will cause some “good” Christians serious umbrage. Some will quote The Gospel of John and the Letters of Saint Paul to counter my interpretation however I want to make very clear the rules of engagement: my argument is based solely on the words of Jesus himself as they are presented Synoptic Gospels. As I will argue in future posts both John and Paul offer heretical interpretations of the Kerygma.
Secondly, since this blog is not intended to be a scholarly work at the level of a doctoral dissertation, I am not going to include a lot of the secondary sources that helped shape my thinking. Suffice it to say that that list would be quite extensive. I am not sure I could even remember them all. What was Jesus referring to when he used “The Law”? My feeling is, given his feelings about the pharisees who were the Jewish legalists of that time, The Law as Jesus uses the term refers specifically to the Ten Commandments. Jesus summarized The Law as follows:
And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
Jesus said he came to fulfill The Law, not to destroy it. What did he mean by that? In order to answer that, we need to understand a bit more deeply what The Law meant to first-century Jews. That answer will be a bit lengthy so we will stop here and continue in part two.