“Do not suppose that I come to dismantle the Law or the Prophets. I do not come to dismantle but to fulfill. For truly I say to you until heaven and earth pass away, not one iota or letter stroke will ever pass away from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever loosens the least of one of these commandments and teaches the same of men, he will be called least in the kingdom from heaven. So, whoever does and teaches them, this one will be called great in the kingdom from heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses more than the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter into the kingdom from heaven.” Matthew 5:17- 20 ESV
The Beatitudes are the preface to the Sermon on the Mount and the above verses are the launching pad into Jesus’ explanation of portions of the Law and the Prophets that had become most convoluted by interpretations and practices of the scribes and Pharisees. Elsewhere Jesus calls those interpretations and practices the “traditions of men” (Mark 7:13 and Matthew 15:9).
Jesus rightly anticipated that his audience might misconstrue his statements, believing he intended to dismantle the “Establishment” religion to start his own sect. Jesus did not intend to deconstruct the foundations of faith found in the Law and the Prophets — he merely clarified what scribes and Pharisees had obfuscated. Instead he reinforced and built on the Old Testament (the selected and recorded revelations, interactions, and conversations Jesus had as the * preincarnate Messiah with those who followed him over the previous centuries.)
* John 1:15, I John 1:1-2, John 8:58, Colossians 1:17, Hebrews 1:1-11 and many other passages
In our era, the suggestion that Jesus was a revolutionary or a deconstructionist has gained traction. As prominent Church leaders follow that model, they almost always propose that the Old Testament is passe or should primarily be selectively gleaned for only its rich narratives.
Just recently, a visible American preacher –- apparently a cowboy –- said Jesus’ followers should “unhitch” themselves from the Old Testament. When trusted leaders so glibly dismiss Matthew 5:17- 20, it seems all too likely they are “grooming” their hearers to detach from culturally uncomfortable or unpopular subjects to replace them with the “traditions of men”.
Of course, dismantling, deconstructing and dismissing Matthew 5:17- 20 is not a recent development; the enemy of our souls has been infiltrating the Church since its inception.
Hopefully, you will take this introduction to the Sermon on the Mount as words of the Master Builder of our faith.
With Matthew 5:17- 20 in mind, continue ingesting the Lord’s Prayer.
…“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”