Jesus’s Manifesto: The Sermon on the Mount
Wednesday — Doing Away With The Bible
Don’t even begin to think that I have come to do away with the Law and the Prophets. I haven’t come to do away with them but to fulfill them. I say to you very seriously that as long as heaven and earth exist, neither the smallest letter nor even the smallest stroke of a pen will be erased from the Law until everything there becomes a reality.
(Matthew 5:17-18 CEB)
- “Don’t even begin to think” — I love the way this translation puts it. It is clear that Jesus is pushing back against a misconception. “Don’t even begin to think that I have come to do away with” the Bible, says Jesus.
- For Jesus’ audience, “the Law and the Prophets” was the Bible.
- Why would someone think that Jesus was doing away with the Bible?
- Because he let his disciples eat without ritually washing. In the South, that would be like starting to eat without saying the blessing before dinner.
- Because he healed on the Sabbath and let his disciples pick grain on the Sabbath.
- Jesus didn’t go around violating religious rules willy-nilly. He observed the Sabbath and prayed plenty. But the religious fundamentalists of his day couldn’t abide the freedom he gave his followers.
- I can’t help but feel the weight of this argument today concerning LGBTQIA folks. Those of us who argue for the affirmation of human beings to love and to be the people God created them to be are often painted as “doing away with the Bible.”
- “What else will he do away with? Where does he draw the line?” I can hear the slippery slope arguments even now.
- And nothing could be further from the truth. We are advocating for the very things Jesus advocated: that the Sabbath, and all the laws, were made for human beings, not vice versa. The Law of the Bible is the Law of Love, and God intends all things to be for our flourishing and knowledge of God.
- That’s why Jesus could say, “as long as the heavens and earth exist,” all of the Bible remains important.
- UNTIL. The Bible is pointing us, and all of creation, toward something greater. And when that something greater becomes a reality, the Law will no longer be necessary.
- So we are to press on with the understanding that the Bible is not the Last Word. It is the First Word. And until we all truly understand the God Who Is Love, we will need the Law.