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The Laws Will Be Fulfilled
Bible Passage Matthew 5:17-20
This content is part of a series Bright Morning Reflections, in book Matthew & .

The Laws Will Be Fulfilled

  • Rev. Bright Mawuena Nfodzo
Date preached January 24, 2023

17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I didn’t come to destroy them, but to fulfill them,

18 because I tell all of you with certainty that until heaven and earth disappear, not one letter or one stroke of a letter will disappear from the Law until everything has been accomplished.

19 So whoever sets aside one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom from heaven. But whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom from heaven

20 because I tell you, unless your righteousness greatly exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom from heaven!”


Jewish scriptures, or what Christians call the Old Testament today existed before Jesus Christ was born. It was the guide for all Jews. The Pharisees, in order to promote self-righteousness, and sometimes burden people added more of their own laws known as the tradition of men to the laws. Jesus showed that God’s messages from long ago were completely true. He would show by six examples in verses 21-48 (texts that we would consider in the coming days) what He meant.

In a lengthy section that runs through to the end of the chapter (Matthew 5), Jesus points out that it is not good enough merely to follow the teachings of the scribes and Pharisees.

Realizing that people may think He is in some way opposed to the law of Moses, Jesus explains at the outset that this is not so. He does not abolish the Old Testament or overthrow its authority. On the contrary, He gives it fuller meaning. He is its goal, and it finds its fulfillment in Him (Matt 5:17-18).

Some doubt whether Jews said these words because He overthrew the Law at certain points. Jesus did not observe the hand washing laws, He healed on Sabbath against the Law, etc. In fact, Jesus was accused of breaking the law. So what did Jesus really mean that He did not come to destroy the Law?

It is worth noting that the term Law is used in different senses among the Jews: It meant
1. The 10 commandments
2. The Pentateuch ( thus, Genesis to Deuteronomy)
3. The Law and Prophets meant the whole Old Testament
4. Oral law, or scribal law, which was the additions of the scribes

The commonest at the time of Jesus was the scribal law, which both Jesus and Paul often condemned. There exist only a few rules in the Old Testament. There are rather a lot of broad guiding principles that must be interpreted in line with the mind of God.

The Jews tried to deduce a rule and regulation from each law (10 commandments). This became a business for a sect known as Scribes. These were what was referred to as scribal law, much of which did not find favor with Jesus.

For instance, we find the great principle of the Sabbath in the 10 commandments. The scribes defined what work is and included all sorts of things. Those made their definitions and explanations unacceptable to Jesus. Helping someone in need on Sabbath was wrong to the Jews. It was a scribal law that Jesus condemned. For many generations, these scribal laws were not written down, but they were transmitted from one generation to the other through oral means, until the middle of the third century.

Clearly, Jesus did not mean these scribal laws that had about twelve volumes. He broke these laws Himself, often.

Which Law did Jesus come to fulfill then? Laws in the scriptures offer reverence to God, respect for parents and other people, and making the best out of life.

Jesus does not teach anyone to ignore the instruction of the Old Testament, but He makes it clear that even if they keep all the commandments (as the Pharisees claimed to do), they still will not gain entrance into the kingdom of God. Salvation is not by works. The righteousness that God desires cannot be achieved by keeping rules and regulations, especially in the manner that the Pharisees did or expected it done with their scribal law.

Salvation can result only from an inward change that starts with faith and repentance and is developed through genuine love and submission to Jesus (Matt 5:19-20).

Everything that is in the Law is important. It is easy to keep some parts of the Law and neglect other parts. This should not be so.

The Pharisees were proud of themselves because they obeyed the Law. The men who taught the Law had many extra rules. They used these rules to explain the Law. The Pharisees were willing to obey these extra rules as well. They appeared to be good. But Jesus knew that the Pharisees were not sincere. Instead, they worried about small things. They blamed Jesus when He healed people on God’s Sabbath. They blamed people who did some work and even wrote on Sabbath.

Jesus obeyed the true meaning of the Law. He showed what it really meant to respect God and other people.

🔷 Jesus is the yardstick for the Word of God

🔷 The Word of God will remain so, without any changes as it has been long ago. Everything written in there would come to pass.

🔷 Believers need to live Jesus by practicing an honest (not a fake, or deceptive) life.

🔷 Not only our works, or obedience to laws, but faith in Jesus Christ should help us receive our salvation.

💥 Pray that you will have God’s wisdom for a deeper understanding of His word
💥 Intercede for someone

Our interpretation of the Word of God must resonate with the intention of the author of the Word. The law must guide us so we can have principles that would be built on the life and teachings of Christ Jesus.

In series Bright Morning Reflections