Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17).
There once was a man who was being considered to head up a certain organization. When he came to interview with the board, the man made great promises and predictions. He was extremely self-confident. The man was a Big Talker. He claimed that the organization had fallen short of expectations in the past because of its archaic approach to things. They needed to start over, completely new. He alone had a new plan, and the ability to implement it. In effect, he was saying, “Trust me, follow me, and I’ll take this organization to new heights.” It appealed to the board to have someone else carry their responsibility for future vision. They hired the man.
As the Big Talker instituted his new policies, people in the organization soon began questioning his approach. But when they approached him, the Big Talker said, “I’m in charge here. It’s my way or the highway.” The organization was fractured, and members of the board were greatly distressed. The Big Talker eventually imploded, blaming the board and the organization as he departed. The board was left to pick up the pieces and start over.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets…” In this statement, Jesus seems to be responding to accusations that he was just a Big Talker. In fact, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees were threatened by the fact that Jesus taught differently than they did—with personal authority—and that large crowds of people were responding to him. The teachers probably used Jesus’ signature teaching approach—“you have heard that it was said…, but I say to you…”—as evidence that he was rejecting Scriptural traditions. They accused Jesus of leaving the Word of God behind and promulgating his own strange teaching—just a Big Talker, not to be trusted.
The teachers and Pharisees were both right and wrong. Jesus was rejecting much of the teachers’ traditions. But he was not rejecting the Scriptures. In fact, far from abolishing the Scriptures, he boldly announced he had come to fulfill them. So Jesus was The Big Talker: “To know me is to know the Father”… “whoever follows me will never walk in darkness”… “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” He is the only person in all of history who could make such incredible statements, and then completely back his talk with his actions.
On the cross, by giving his life for humankind, Jesus brought a new and living way to all who would believe in him. Christ Alone could do this!
Rev. Brent Juliot serves as pastor of Oak Ridge Lutheran Brethren Church in Menomonie, Wisconsin.