Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”
When Jesus makes this statement, I at once both immediately understand it, and am confused by it. I understand it because I have studied Christianity. I am familiar with His Churches catechesis, and many have made sure that I know the difference between a law and the spirit of that law. I have grown up in a culture where religious laws are interpreted, and the reason that they are interpreted is because a literal obedience leaves so much room for abuse. Look to the holy lands today and witness the smashing of ancient artifacts because someone thought they violate a religious decree. Yet as much as that ancient art was deemed against a religious law, a religious argument could have been made for that record of civilization to be cherished. Literally the law might have stated that no icon representing God can be made. Was a law also made that stated an ancient peoples artwork representing their god should be destroyed? The letter of the law might state that one should not make an image of God. The spirit though might suggest that nothing man makes can match the splendor of God, and it is wrong to deceive someone to thinking what they peddle is good as God. The spirit is against deceit and idolatry, while the letter can be misinterpreted against ancient artifacts. Sure , in an ancient civilization Moses would have smashed an idol like he did the golden calf. In the day it was created it lead people away from God. In a museum today though, that same idol can enrich a persons sense of culture and lead them towards God. How much better for someone to learn the reasoning behind a law than for an ignorant person extract vengeance because they think someone broke a law. How much worse for a person to manipulate a law to serve their own selfish interest. What a gift to be guided through the history and meaning of a law and their varied interpretations.
My confusion with that is from trying to understand it as those disciples heard it. I have trouble sometimes understanding the burden of a religious law enforced by a tribunal, though current events have enlightened me. Much more than stone has been shattered by thugs enforcing Gods decrees, how thankful I am Jesus came to fulfill those laws and teach what they truly mean.I think of the human lives lost through the misguided enforcement of a law wrongly interpreted.
I should also add a note though that those people who are destroying those ancient artifacts can always exclaim “but you do not know or understand our laws!” and they would be right except even among their own religion a Queen of theirs proclaimed that what they do is not part of their religion , but that they are only crazy fanatics. I am sure she does not abandon her laws either. I wonder if those disciples of Christ, so familiar with how laws were enforced, understood what Jesus meant when He said He did not come to abolish the law. Those ancient disciples also saw many laws enforced, and misinterpreted, with painful consequences. I wonder if they understood that when Gods law was read and followed correctly, only the burden was removed and not the law.
Remember and pray for the Jordanian Pilot, First Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh, murdered by those who falsely interpreted a law, for their own gain, falsely in the name of God.