“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”
This passage from last Sunday’s Gospel seems to be at odds with other lessons of Jesus in which he appears to refute popular interpretations of the Scriptures, including observations of the Sabbath, cleanliness rites, etc. He goes on to praise the Pharisees, who are usually positions as Jesus’ rivals and foils to his ministry. How then are we to make sense of this particular passage as it relates to the larger message of Jesus’ teachings?
I read a parable in connection to this particular passage. Imagine a concert violinist, the first chair of a prestigious orchestra, visiting a junior high school band class. The violin students there have been taught by their band director, practiced regularly, but play at a level nowhere near approaching the skill of the professional. In talking to the students, could you imagine the violinist saying to the students, “let’s just forget everything and stick to what you know now,” or would the violinist clarify, teach, and inspire the students to what they might accomplish in their own lives? Could the violinist share what a lifetime’s dedication to the craft could be?
To put in another way, the Scriptures do not exist to teach us how to love, but God’s love teaches us how to understand the Scriptures. And in that way, Jesus Christ, the ultimate expression of God’s love, becomes the perfected form of that understanding.
Yours in Christ,