Jesus announced that he came to fulfill every part of the law. How was he able to do this when he was accused of breaking the law? He did this by redefining the law of God around the law of love. This is the bullseye of God’s Kingdom.
In these verses, Jesus makes a big-picture statement about how he views the scriptures, understands the law, understands “righteousness,” and views himself as the fulfillment of the law. It sets the framework for all that is to follow. In addition, it is the most foundational teaching of Woodland Hills.
Jesus begins with, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets,” referring to the entire Old Testament. Jesus’ statement indicates that this is what Jewish religious leaders thought Jesus was teaching and doing, abolishing law and prophets. People would assume this for three reasons: 1) because Jesus taught that loving God and loving neighbors fulfills the entire law, 2) Jesus shared meals with those viewed as the worst of sinners, and 3) Jesus sometimes acted in ways that could be interpreted as setting aside, or at least relaxing, the law.
Jesus insists he’s come to fulfill the Old Testament, and fulfill it completely. He hyperbolically says “not one letter or stroke of the pen will pass away until I fulfill it.” He’s going to fulfill the law in a way that goes beyond the righteousness of the Pharisees, not by literally adhering to ever letter or stroke of the pen—something Jesus obviously didn’t do. Jesus fulfilled the law by embodying the ultimate intention of the law. Jesus assumes God’s ultimate goal in giving the law wasn’t to simply get people to comply with behavioral rules. The ultimate goal behind the law was to establish people in “righteousness,” which means right-relatedness, or love.
Jesus is saying, shoot for this bullseye, and all you need to get done will get done. If you shoot for anything other than love, it doesn’t matter what else you get done, you won’t do the one thing that is needful, which is love. Love is the center of the center, the beginning, middle and end of what the Kingdom is all about. This is confirmed in Scripture passages like Romans 13:8-10, Colossians 3:14, 1 Peter 4:8, and 1 Corinthians 16:14.
Then, we read in 1 John 3:16-17 what love looks like. God illustrates love for us so that we can live in it. Our most central job is to receive this love, yield to this love, be transformed by this love, and then to imitate this love, as we read in Ephesians 5:1-2. This is the bullseye of the Kingdom and the bullseye of Woodland Hills Church. All else is worthless unless we do everything in love. As we say often around here, we are “Learning to LOVE together.”
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