3rd week in Lent, Wednesday – 18th March 2020 – Matthew 5, 17-19
Jesus’ consciousness of fulfillment
Jesus hyperbolic statement about the law in this section concerns himself: ‘I have come to fulfill the Law or the Prophets’ (5,17). As we know, the Law and the Prophets refer to the Hebrew Scriptures. To ‘abolish’ something is usually to tear it apart, to loosen it; it is the opposite of ‘building up’. But Jesus does not say that he has come to ‘build up’ the law but rather to ‘fulfill’ it or ‘bring something to an end’. As the last messenger of God, who brings the revelation to its completion, Jesus is the proclaimer of the final Will of God. Mt 5,18 also belongs to this category of Jesus’ witness to himself, that is, if this saying refers originally to the Prophecies of the passion in the Old Testament: ‘not an iota, not a dot, will pass from them until all is accomplished’. Then, in the six antitheses that follow (5,21-48), this consciousness by Jesus of his mission is strongly portrayed and raises to a new level (5,19). And Mt 7,12 summarizes this new teaching of Jesus (5,21-7,11) by relating to the teaching of the Law and the Prophets. The beatitudes as a whole are concealed testimonies by Jesus to himself as the Saviour of the poor. It is in this manner as here, that Matthew uses several such fulfilment formulae to show that Jesus is the awaited Messiah, the fulfilment of the OT prophecies (1,22; 2,15.17.23; 3,15; 4,14; 8,17; 12,17; 13,35.48; 21,4; 26,56; 27,9). Jesus, in himself and through his teachings, brings to completion the close relationship which God has demonstrated through the giving of the commandments in the Hebrew Scriptures.