Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.
In times of stress we really appreciate the comfort of law. We think,
"If everyone will just drive on the right side and stop for the red light,
we'll be okay!" In times of stress, we realize how precarious the
To avoid catastrophe, we often settle for bad because it's not worse.
Jesus, however, challenges these stable, fragile compromises. He continually
invites us to reexamine our attitudes and patterns, to let go of
counterproductive habits and move more gracefully in his spirit. Jesus represents imminent judgment; at any moment the world might end
and we will be called to account for everything we have said and done. Excuses will not be accepted; whining will go unheard.
Aware of that unease, Jesus speaks reassuringly, "Do not think that I
have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to
The fulfillment, I suppose, means that laws which are hard to understand
today, will make sense. The child questions why she must go to school and why
she must memorize the multiplication tables; but the day comes when she not
only understands, she is grateful that someone made her do it. Without all the
sacrifices she made so unwillingly as a child, she could not be the
generous, capable person she is today.
God's promise of fulfillment, when applied, relieves a lot of our frustration.
Life with other people is often complicated and difficult. Even if our family life
is pleasantly manageable, life in the church, the neighborhood, the office or
the world at large can be snarled in inexplicable complexity. We often ask
ourselves, “Why do we have to do things that way? Isn’t there an easier way?” and,
more seductive, “I don’t need this hassle.”
But we do need other people; no one lives in this world unless the rest
of us help. And because most others feel no desire, need or urgency to do
things my way, because they don’t even ask what I want or expect, and yet they
do lay expectations upon me, I may feel a serious lack of fulfillment in this
Say what you will about politics. It's real and necessary. Politics is how we work out our salvation with one another. Nor do we have the option of writing off certain others as hopeless, wicked or evil. As Christians we were sent to live in this world with some difficult people, and to make peace with them.
Jesus’ promise of satisfaction applies here. “I have come not to abolish
but to fulfill.” That promise includes a peaceful resolution of present
conflicts, large and small. Somehow it will all have been worth it.