vv 17-18 Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.
The zealous Jews of Jesus’ day would have nothing to do with any new-fangled religious ideas. Whatever else you might think about the Pharisees they had a real desire to keep the Word of the Law. They might have misunderstood its purpose, and their zeal to observe even the minutest details of, say tithing, inevitably took them to extremes. They were out to condemn the slightest hint of unfaithfulness to the Law of Moses – and would have read these verses from Psalm 119 and said a loud ‘AMEN’ at the end. Think back for a moment about the occasions they tried to catch Jesus out on keeping the Sabbath properly! So just in case they thought Jesus was wanting to establish something contrary, He made it clear that His purpose was different.
The law was not designed by God as a means by which people would find salvation and acceptance by Him. It sets out to be a schoolmaster – showing us our sin and failures and then pointing us toward the One Who is able to rescue us from the consequences of wrongdoing. The Law makes us aware of the utter impossibility of being 100% upright in God’s eyes using our own wisdom and moral integrity. It makes us realise that we need a Saviour, One who will deal with us graciously, forgive our sin, and restore us into a right relationship with our Heavenly Father. The Law is not a threatening slave driver, announcing dire punishments, but a welcome signpost pointing us to Jesus.