The Big Ten, Commandments that is, give us a guideline for living in this world. The rest of the Torah added many more; do not eat venison or shrimp, for example. David, in his Psalm, wrote, The Law of Yahweh is perfect. NJB How perfect? It does not forbid slavery. It does not allow hospitals to remain open on the Sabbath. It does not prohibit using mind altering substances.
Matthew records Jesus saying, Don’t misunderstand why I have come—it isn’t to cancel the laws of Moses and the warnings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill them and to make them all come true. TLB Jesus agrees with David that the Law is perfect. In our reading, he even became somewhat violent by driving out those people who were violating the laws regarding the Temple.
Jesus seems to have been in the Temple a number of times in his life, possibly nearly every year of his life. Why this once (perhaps twice, but save that for another discussion) did he choose to make an issue of what everyone knew was improper if not illegal? It is because this outburst is part of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry of reconciliation with God. How can that reconciliation take place if the very house of God on earth is corrupt? Jesus had to tell people that their beliefs were built on sand.
What Jesus consistently reveals in his ministry is that what we take to be most important turns out to be of no importance. A rich man asked Jesus, Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life? Jesus replied, keep the commandments. The man was not satisfied because he already kept the commandments. Jesus knew that. But he also knew the man only kept the commandments because he knew he was supposed to. So Jesus told him what he really needed to do, follow me. NIV
It is so much easier to memorize the list of 613 commandments and follow the list. Some of them are a little inconvenient, but none is really difficult. Obviously Jesus had more in mind when he said, follow me.
Paul brings some clarity to this whole issue. Hasn’t God made this world’s wisdom look pretty foolish? He adds, Precisely because Jews ask for signs and Greeks try to find wisdom, we go on proclaiming a Messiah executed on a stake as a criminal! To Jews this is an obstacle, and to Greeks it is nonsense. And finally, God’s “weakness” is stronger than humanity’s “strength.” CJB
When Jesus said he came to fulfill the Law, he spoke directly to the full and eternal intention of God to defeat sin, save humans and do it without our help. Jesus spoke of the Grace of God that He has given us guidance and the presence of the Holy Spirit as we need it. Jesus came to fulfill the Law; but more than that, he is the Law.
There is no fault or blame in following the Ten Commandments or all 613 commandments, as long as we do it by giving our all to follow God. If I follow Jesus, I will necessarily follow the Law. If I follow the Law without following Jesus, I am lost. With the rich man, we must accept the command of Jesus, If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. NIV
It is all about imitation, as Commandment Ten describes it. You must not be envious of your neighbor’s house, or want to sleep with his wife, or want to own his slaves, oxen, donkeys, or anything else he has. TLB Actually, if we could obey this command, none of the others would be necessary. We spend too much time comparing ourselves to other people instead of comparing ourselves to Jesus. I wish I could (witness, sing, preach, teach, serve, etc.) like Joe. That is wrong. By wanting what Joe has, I set myself up to imitate Cain instead of God. Love and respect everyone, no matter how different.
Be righteous and do good.