Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so will be called least
in the Kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these
commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven."
Mary Joan Leith
Professor of Religious Studies
Matt. 5:17 ¶ "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Matt. 5:18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.
Matt. 5:19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
These verses come from Jesus's Sermon on the Mount which begins with some of his most beloved words, the Beatitutides (AKA the "blesseds"). One important lesson in today's verses has to do with Christian-Jewish relations. When Jesus mentions the "law and the prophets" here, he is referring to the Jewish scriptures, the only Bible he knew-what Christians call the Old Testament. When he reminds his listeners that not even a tiny bit of the law will pass away, the word he would have used is Torah, the Jewish law. Christians do well to remember that throughout His life, during His Passion, in death, and in resurrection, Jesus remained a Jew. When we as Christians remember Jesus's Jewishness we honor an essential aspect of Jesus's person and our own religious heritage.