Saturday, 11 December 2004 17:29

Christ and the Law

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It is not at all unusual today to hear people profess respect for and even loyalty to Jesus of Nazareth. For example, there are those who describe Jesus as the first revolutionary who turned the whole establishment upside down. But is there any truth to this claim? Was Jesus a revolutionary? This was exactly the question people were asking during Jesus' life on earth.

They heard Him preach and they wondered. Who is He? What is He trying to do? Is it His purpose to overthrow the existing order? They were confused. For Christ's preaching was so different from that of the Pharisees and Sadducees! He despised the tradition of the elders, openly denouncing their hypocrisy and self-righteousness.

But Israel's leaders were not confused; they were sure that He was a heretic and a disturber of the religious peace. The Pharisees and scribes accused him of attempting to undermine their authority. They were the acknowledged leaders and teachers of the people. They were the authorized exponents of the law and the prophets and therefore the charge really amounted to this: Jesus of Nazareth wants to overthrow the ancient order of religion and introduce a new moral and religious order.

In the Sermon on the Mount Christ answers His accusers. In Matthew 5: 17-20 He defines His attitude to the Old Testament Scripture. Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. By "the law" and "the prophets

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