Jesus Creed

Not according to Jesus, but this all hangs on what “follow” means. In the passage we need to look at today, Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus makes an astounding claim. He did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them. In brief, Jesus is saying that the Torah and the Prophets were preliminary sketches of God’s will and he will now be and teach its fullness. That takes chutzpah.
Let’s look closer. The Law and the Prophets, along with the Writings, were the Bible for Jesus’ day. Jesus says he is not here to destroy them (which responds to his behavior or teachings that he is sabotaging them) but to fulfill them. The word “fulfill” refers to the OT fulfillment theme, how what God has promised is now coming to pass. Only Jesus sees the Law (and the Prophets) as functioning prophetically somehow.
The way to put this together, which follows the interpretations of Robert Banks and Doug Moo (you can find them in Hagner’s commentary or any standard academic commentary on Matthew), is this: the Law and the Prophets were preliminary expressions but had an inherent longing for completion, and Jesus is saying that he and his teachings are that fulfillment.
Let me put it this way: I learned to type on a typewriter; I now use a PowerBook G4. What a typewriter is to a G4, the Law is to the teachings of Jesus.
Which now means this: Jesus himself, both in who he was and what he taught, ushered in a new era of complete revelation of God’s will for God’s people.
Which means also this: we are summoned to follow Jesus, not the Torah. In following Jesus, we do everything the Torah ever said and ever wanted to be and more. Jesus’ disciples follow Jesus and in following Jesus they follow the fulfilled Law, which is swallows up the old Torah into a new form.
He does not eliminate the Torah, he enables the Torah.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus