DavidA_2008_031When we consider the things that Jesus said and taught, things like those in today’s Gospel Reading, we need to remember that Jesus was born and brought up in a Jewish family, in a Jewish country.

What we call the Old Testament; especially the Books of the Law, the Books of the Prophets, and the Psalms; were the only Scriptures that Jesus knew as Scriptures.

Jesus said that he came not to abolish, but to fulfill the Law.

A lot of meaning hangs on that word, “fulfill.”   It points us to the Law of Love. We find the heart of the Law in the Ten Commandments, (Ex. 20:1-17) the admonitions to love God with heart and mind and strength, (Deut. 6:5) and to love ones neighbor as one’s self. (Lev. 19:18b)

We should remember that the rest of what we call the Books of the Law was mainly instruction for the Israelites for their nomadic life during the exodus.  It included matters like hygiene and sanitation during    their travels in a hot climate; and how to get along with one another living in such close quarters.

An additional part of the Law consisted of directions for their worship.

As Jesus had more encounters with legalistic interpretations of the Law, he began to show a more critical attitude.

Jesus often quoted the Prophets as they pointed out ways in which the literal and legalistic interpretations of the law did not reflect the will of God as he understood it.

In his later ministry we can find that many of Jesus’ parables were used to illustrate the “Law of Love.”

Does putting Jesus’ remarks on the Law into a wider context like this help you to understand his feelings about the Law?

Does it help you to live more fully by the spirit of the Law, and that spirit as it is found in the Prophets?  (e.g. Micah 6:8b: “To do justice … to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”)


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1 Comment

  1. Maureen Doyle on March 14, 2013 at 17:31

    Can we love God, but not our neighbors? It would be like loving our parents but not our siblings. So it all goes back to loving God.
    Thank you for explaining this comment of Jesus’ about fulfilling the law. I tried to discover ways of loving AND following what you describe as the sanitary rules for nomads.
    Thank you!

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