Fulfilling the Law and the Prophets
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them,
“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:16-21)
Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19)
When Jesus speaks of fulfilling the law, or the law and the prophets, he is expressing a meaning different from literal adherence to the law. Jesus did not say that he came to obey the law and it is clear that the religious authorities called into question his disobedience (Luke 10:25-37; John 8:3-11; Mark 2:23-28). Rather, Jesus clearly points to something beyond the literal text of the law. Jesus fulfills the law of love in pointing out that one’s neighbor is anyone we meet who is in need. Jesus fulfills the law of forgiveness with the adulteress. Jesus places the needs of human beings above blind acceptance of Sabbath rules in noting that the Sabbath was made for humanity, not humanity for the Sabbath (an expression of the law). The rules of ritual cleanliness would prevent one from helping the Samaritan; the rules of punishment would have required the adulteress to be stoned; the Sabbath rules would have prohibited the harvesting of corn or grain for food.
In the same way, Jesus uses the text of Isaiah as a sign of God’s mercy: release from oppression; recovery of sight. Instead of prophecy expressing God’s anger, imminent punishment, or expressing warning, Jesus expresses the good news of the favor of God.
As Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, that the time will come when God is worshiped in “spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). The spirit of the law, joined with truth, is fulfillment. Twisting the context of the law, or the words of the prophets to suit one’s need, dishonors God’s intention.
Merciful God, your ways and your intention are so often beyond our understanding. Jesus has given us a way to follow a higher understanding of your law and prophecy. May we fulfill our purpose through honoring this higher truth; may we approach union with you spiritually pure in thought and deed. May our eyes and ears be open to you in ways that help us avoid empty promises and the misrepresentation of your word. May we grow in wisdom and grace and give witness to your mercy in everything we do and say, as Jesus has taught us. Amen.
From The Readings
2012-182 Both you and Jeffrey are healers and teachers. You will find much to heal, and may teach in many different ways through all your travels and your adventures. You have not found all the ways there are to have fun with who you are and the things that you’ll be doing, but remember that in the beginning of learning, you have to develop skills. You have to be comfortable with the things that you can do. You have to know yourself and what you are capable of, and then once this is understood, inside, all of the possibilities open to you. You will find your freedom. You will find your expression. You will find an unlimited universe. Infinite. Eternal. All there for you to experience, to enjoy, to learn from, and you will fill it with your spirit, with your body, with your mind, with all the dimensions that are part of your being.
2012-203 You have a desire to be doing God’s work; to be representative of God; to be a channel of God’s blessing. You are being trained, as we have said to you before. One of the training goals is an understanding of patience and presence. These are very closely linked, so that we call them one, but they embody both elements. True presence is always patient, and it knows how to be patient, what it means to be patient. These two lessons combined as one are underlying, or you could say they are the foundation of, the experience and the learning for both of you, Jeffrey and Stelli, in the present work.
2012-204 To be able to do the work where you are now, to be able to understand the rewards, to be able to understand human beings, to understand that I will call you to those places where you are needed, to understand that you will have length of days and all the time necessary to prepare the work, and to know that not all of the work that I have prepared for you needs to be finished by you, but that some will be finished by others. These are all part of the spiritual process that you can understand through the words, “spiritual evolution.”