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Did Jesus Break the Law?
The common idea in mainstream Christianity is that Jesus did away with the Law of Moses annulling the Old Testament teaching and replacing it with the New Testament. The idea is also widespread in Judaism.
Jacob Neusner, in his book A Rabbi Talks With Jesus, explains why Jews as a whole do not follow Jesus and reject any possibility that He could be the Messiah. "Jews believe in the Torah of Moses," he explains, "...and that belief requires faithful Jews to enter a dissent at the teachings of Jesus, on the grounds that those teachings at important points contradict the Torah" (1993, pp. xii).
But both Christianity and Judaism are wrong in their assessment of Jesus’ attitude towards the Old Testament Law. Instead of accepting what religious leaders think about Jesus’ teachings, let’s see what Jesus Himself said in the Bible.
He said in Matthew 5:17, “17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”
We see that Jesus declared that we should not even think such a thing that He intended to destroy the Law and the Prophets, but that He came to fulfill it.
Christians then twist the meaning of how He can to “fulfill” the Law” in order to support their erroneous views. UCG Booklet “Jesus Christ: The Real Story” explains on p. 92.
“Regrettably, the meaning of "fulfilling the law" has been twisted by many who claim the name of Jesus but don't really understand what He taught. They say that since Jesus said He would fulfill the law, we no longer need to keep it and the law has no further obligation on His followers.
“Another view of "fulfilling the law" is that Jesus "filled full" what was lacking in the law—that is, He completed it, partly canceling it and partly adding to it, forming what is sometimes referred to as "Christ's law" or "New Testament teaching."
The implication of this view is that the New Testament brought a change in the requirements for salvation and that the laws given in the Old Testament are obsolete. But do either of these views accurately reflect what Jesus meant?
“The Greek word pleroo, translated "fulfill" in Matthew 5:17, means "to make full, to fill, to fill up, ... to fill to the full" or "to render full, i.e. to complete" (Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 2002, Strong's number 4137). In other words, Jesus said He came to complete the law and make it perfect. How? By showing the spiritual intent and application of God's law. His meaning is clear from the remainder of the chapter, where He showed the spiritual intent of specific commandments.
“Some distort the meaning of "fulfill" to have Jesus saying, "I did not come to destroy the law, but to end it by fulfilling it." This is inconsistent with His own words. Through the remainder of the chapter, He showed that the spiritual application of the law made it even more difficult to keep, not that it was annulled or no longer necessary.
“Jesus, by explaining, expanding and exemplifying God's law, fulfilled a prophecy of the Messiah found in Isaiah 42:21: "The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness' sake; He will exalt the law, and make it honorable."
“Jesus Christ did exactly that, showing the holy, spiritual intent, purpose and scope of God's law. He met the law's requirements by obeying it perfectly in thought and deed, both in the letter and in the intent of the heart.”
Then Jesus Christ continued in Matthew 5:18, “"For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled." Here Jesus equates the permanence of the law to the permanence of heaven and earth and even punctuation marks in the Law will all be fulfilled.
Jesus then states in Matthew 5:19 “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Here Jesus makes it absolutely clear that keeping the commandments in the Law is required to qualify to be in the Kingdom of God. Those who break the least of the commandments will be least in the Kingdom because they will not be in it as other scriptures show (Revelation 21:8, “8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars [breaking some of the Ten Commandments] shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.").
Then Jesus made a startling statement in the next verse, Matthew 5:20, “20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus said that the spirituality of the Pharisees, whom the people looked upon as having reached the pinnacle of commandment keeping and righteousness, was not enough to get anyone in the Kingdom of Heaven [the term is used interchangeably with Kingdom of God by the other gospel writers. The Kingdom of Heaven simply meant that at that time the King was in Heaven].
Jesus pronounced woes on the scribes and Pharisees later to show where the problems in their righteousness lay in Matthew 23:25-28 (NKJV), “25 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy. In their actions that could be seen by others they appeared to be very righteous in keeping the commandments perfectly, but instituted rules that amounted to extortion. They also kept minor aspects of the Law such as diligently paying tithes of even herbs, but neglected the weightier spiritual parts of the Law.
Then Jesus proceeded to give examples of some of the Ten Commandments in which the scribes and the Pharisees were missing the spiritual intent of the Law while trying to keep merely the letter of the Law.
Matthew 5:21-22 (NKJV), “21 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.' 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire.”
Jesus here pointed out that the intent of the sixth commandment was to curb unjust anger, and not even use derogatory words to put down people as such evil attitudes led to murder.
Similarly Jesus illustrated the spiritual intent of the seventh commandment in verses 27-28, “27 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
These examples illustrate what Jesus meant when He said the scribes and Pharisees “cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion [or greed] and self-indulgence.” Not only did Jesus say that the whole Law is to be observed but He clarified that it is to be observed even more strictly than the scribes and the Pharisees did. It is to be observed from the heart. This was in fact the original intent when God gave the Law through Moses as stated in Deuteronomy 5:29 (NKJV), “29 Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!”
When Jesus gave the spiritual intent of the Law He used words such as: “You have heard that it was said to those of old… But I say to you…” Some still argue that Jesus’ intent was to contrast His teaching with Moses’ teaching and changed or modified the Law. But this makes no sense at all. Jesus had just said that we were not even to think that He had any intention of changing the Law and that it was as permanent as the heavens and the earth. How could He be changing the sixth commandment and allowing murder while prohibiting unjust anger and derogatory language; or allowing adultery while prohibiting lusting after a woman. That’s why He said that to qualify to be in God’s kingdom one’s righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.
Jesus Christ could not be inconsistent for He was the God of the Old Testament who gave the Law in the first place. He declared through Malachi the prophet, “I am the LORD, I do not change ..." (Malachi 3:6).
Jesus and the Sabbath
Mainstream Christianity does not keep the Sabbath but worships on Sunday, the day of sun worship. They argue that Jesus annulled the Ten Commandments but then reinstituted nine of the Ten Commandments except the Sabbath command as He mentioned the nine commandments in His teachings. In support of their position of no longer being required to keep the Sabbath they say Jesus is now our ‘rest,’ thus replacing the Sabbath with Himself. Some believe that we are no longer required to rest on any particular day but can rest on any day of the week. But this position of mainstream Christianity is not supported by the Bible.
First of all Jesus Himself kept the Sabbath. Luke 4:16 states, “16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.” We see that it was Jesus’ regular custom to worship on the Sabbath day.
Even Paul the apostle kept the Sabbath as stated in Acts 17:2, “2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures…” Paul told members of the Church in 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NKJV), “1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” Thus just as Christ kept the Sabbath, Paul also kept it.
Now search the New Testament and there is not a single statement of Jesus telling the disciples not to worship on the Sabbath or to worship on Sunday or another day of the week or even any instance of His doing so. So how does mainstream Christianity or the Jews get the idea that Jesus changed the worship day from the Sabbath day to another day of the week?
The answer is that the Jews and mainstream Christianity misunderstand what Jesus’ confrontations with the scribes and Pharisees regarding the Sabbath were about. The confrontations were never about keeping the Sabbath but on how to keep it.
For example, on more than one occasion the scribes and Pharisees confronted Jesus for the miracles of healings He performed on the Sabbath.
One such example is in Mark 3:1-6, “1 And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. 2 And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. 3 And he says unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. 4 And he says unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill ? But they held their peace. 5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he says unto the man, Stretch forth your hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. 6 And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.”
Another example is provided in Luke 13:10-17 (NKJV), “10 Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. 12 But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, "Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity." 13 And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, "There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day." 15 The Lord then answered him and said, "Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? 16 So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound--think of it--for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?" 17 And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.”
The UCG booklet “Jesus Christ: The Real Story” states on p. 101, “According to the Pharisees, rendering medical attention to someone, unless it were a matter of life and death, was prohibited on the Sabbath. And since none of these healings involved a life-and-death situation, they thought Jesus was breaking the Sabbath. But as the Savior, Jesus understood the purpose of the Sabbath, that it was a perfectly appropriate time to bring His message of healing, hope and redemption to humanity and to live that message through His actions.
“He was rightfully angry at their inability to see that they placed their own traditions and interpretations over the true purpose of Sabbath observance (Mark 3:5). Yet they were so spiritually blind that they hated Him for exposing their distortions of God's commands (verse 6).”
On another occasion there was another confrontation with the Pharisees about the Sabbath. Mark 2:23-26 (NKJV) states, “23 Now it happened that He went through the grain fields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees said to Him, "Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?" 25 But He said to them, "Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: 26 how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat, except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?"
Here the disciples were not harvesting the grain but just taking a little to satisfy their hunger. The Pharisees thought this was breaking the Sabbath. But Jesus told them that what the disciples did was within the spiritual intent of the Law and that God’s Law allowed for mercy in extenuating circumstances.
Then Jesus gave the purpose for which the Sabbath was made in verse 27, “27 And He said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”
UCG booklet states on p. 104, “The Pharisees had reversed the priorities of the law of God. They had added so many meticulous regulations and traditions to the Sabbath commandment that trying to keep it as they demanded had become an enormous burden for people rather than the blessing God had intended it to be (Isaiah 58:13-14).“Jesus then claimed to have authority to say how the Sabbath should be observed: "Therefore, the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath" (verse 28). Here Jesus takes His rightful place as the One who gave this law of the Sabbath in the first place. For, being the very Creator as we have previously seen (Colossians 1:16; John 1:3), He is the One who created the Sabbath by resting on it (Genesis 2:2-3). Thus it is foolish to argue that Jesus would abolish or annul something that He had personally created for the benefit of every human being!
“What Jesus is in essence saying to the Pharisees here is: You don't have a right to tell people how to keep God's laws. I am the One who gave the laws to man in the first place, therefore I know why it was commanded and how it was intended to be observed.
“When Jesus spoke, it was from the authority He inherently possessed as the great Lawgiver. Jesus never abrogated His own law! But He did most certainly correct these religious leaders' perversions of the law without hesitation. (If you would like to know more about the biblical Sabbath day, request or download your free copy of the booklet 'Sunset to Sunset: God's Sabbath Rest' at the United Church of God web site: www.ucg.org.)”
Judaism Forsook Moses, Christianity Rejected Christ
We have seen that Jesus and the disciples kept the Sabbath. There was not ever any question or discussion anywhere in the New Testament about not keeping it. Paul the apostle kept it. If Jesus were with us today, there would never ever be a question that He would be keeping the Sabbath. So we have to conclude that mainstream Christianity has forsaken Christ. They do not practice what He taught or follow the example He set.
We have also seen that Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day had corrupted what Moses wrote in the Law. They were not observing the Law but keeping it according to their own traditions and ordinances they had themselves added to the Law. After the Babylonian captivity which Nehemiah pointed out was due to violating the Sabbath command (Nehemiah 13:18), the Jewish leaders wanted to prevent the nation from ever committing this sin again and avoid national captivity. So they added many restrictions, rules and regulations about observing the Sabbath and the Law. Instead of the Sabbath day being a day of joy and happiness it became a burden for the people. Similarly many such burdens were added to other parts of the Law. In doing so the Jews had corrupted the Law of Moses. In effect they forsook Moses. Jesus in His confrontations with the Jewish religious leaders was correcting these corruptions in Moses’ Law. In reality, Jesus and Moses completely agreed with one another. Jesus Christ, the God of the Old Testament is consistent. He does not change (Malachi 3:6).
We see Jesus kept the Law in the letter of the Law and its spiritual intent and made it absolutely clear that He had not come to destroy the Law but to fulfill it. He made it clear in Matthew 7:21-23 that without keeping the Law no one will enter the Kingdom of God, “21 Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity [or sin which is defined in 1 John 3:4, “4 Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”)”
Thus the Churches who claim to represent or follow Jesus Christ don’t actually do so. When they say Jesus changed the Old Testament Law they are simply twisting scriptures to support their position. But we have proved them to be flat out wrong. Mainstream Christianity does not follow Christ, but the more than 4,000 year old paganism of Semiramis (Ashtoreth or Astarte or Queen of Heaven of the Bible) and Nimrod (the Baal of the Bible) foisted on it by the Roman Church.
This is not to say that Jesus merely fulfilled the Law by explaining the spiritual intent of the Law in addition to the letter of the Law. There are other ways in which He fulfilled the Law.
Other Ways Jesus Fulfilled the Law
What good is a Law if it does not prescribe a penalty for its violation? No one would obey a restrictive law (even though laws are for the overall good of society. But some may find it personally more beneficial at the expense of others, such as stealing, to violate the law.) Violation of God’s Law always leads to pain and suffering in the long run for the violators as well as others in society. That is why the Law prescribed the death penalty for its violation. That’s why Paul says in Romans 6:23, “...the wages of sin is death…”
But Paul continues in verse 23, “…But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Paul said in Romans 3:23-25, “23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God…”
All of us have sinned and thus incurred the death penalty. But Jesus lived a sinless life. He was our Creator and His life was of more value than all of humanity put together. His sacrifice as the Lamb of God without spot thus fulfilled the requirement of the Law by paying the death penalty for all of humanity.
The writer of the book of Hebrews explains that the sacrifices of Moses’ sacrificial Law could not take away sin. But Jesus’ sacrifice does. Hebrews 10:1-4, 9-14 “1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins… “9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do Your will, O God. He takes away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he has perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”
Jesus and God’s Seven Annual Holy Days
Look up any good encyclopedia about the origins of Christmas, Good Friday and Easter, Valentine’s Day, and other so-called Christian festivals and you will find that each and every one of them originated with paganism. None of these festivals are even mentioned in the Bible. Easter is mentioned in one place in the King James Version of the Bible (Acts 12:4) and scholars agree that it is a mistranslation of the word for Passover. Jesus Christ and none of the apostles ever kept these festivals. They all kept the Sabbath and all of God’s seven annual holy days, never Sunday or Christmas or Easter.Here are the scriptures where all the Annual Holy Days are mentioned in the New Testament and show that Jesus and the apostles kept them in addition to the Sabbath. All these feasts are described in Leviticus 23 in the Old Testament.
Passover: Matthew 26:17-19; Mark 14:12-16; Luke 2:41-42; 22:1, 7-20;John 2:13, 23; 6:4; 13:1-30;1 Corinthians 11:23-29.
Feast of Unleavened Bread: Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:12; Luke 2:41-42, 22:1,7; Acts 20:6; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8
Feast of Firstfruits or Pentecost: Acts 2:1-21; 20:16; 1 Corinthians 16:8
Feast of Trumpets: Matthew 24:30-31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 11:15
Day of Atonement: Acts 27:9
Feast of Tabernacles: John 7:1-2, 8, 10, 14
The Eighth Day (or the Last Great Day of the Feast): John chapters 7-9
As already explained, these seven annual holy days have tremendous significance for Christianity and the Jews. They picture God’s plan of salvation for mankind.
If you'd like to learn more about the true biblical festivals and how they were replaced with holidays that had nothing to do with Christianity or the Bible, request or download the free booklets 'Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Keep?' and ' God's Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind' at www.ucg.org.
Jesus' New Commandment
Jesus said in John 13:34 (NKJV), "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another."
Some in mainstream Christianity argue that Jesus replaced the Ten Commandments, and that our lives should be guided only by love. So we are no longer required to keep them. This flies in the face of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”
But how did Jesus define love for God? John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Then in John 15:10 He said, “10 If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.” Jesus is saying that the only way to love Him is to keep His commandments, meaning the Ten Commandments.
But now look closely at what Jesus said in His New commandment, “you love one another; as I have loved you…” Jesus here was not giving a New Commandment about love. Loving one another was already commanded in the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:18, “…but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”).
Jesus was telling us to love one another as He had loved them by His example. He explained that love in John 15:12-13, “12 This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Jesus Christ loved us so much that He laid down His life for all of us. He asked His followers to love one another as He had loved them with His example. The new commandment was to love each other in the way He had loved us and not just to love one another.
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