Immediately after His statement that He had no intention of doing away with God's law, Jesus proceeded to give examples of the traditions and teachings of the Jewish religious leaders that completely missed the point or even contradicted the spiritual intent of God's laws.
The first example He gave was the Sixth Commandment, "You shall not murder." All that the Pharisees understood about this commandment was that the act of murder was prohibited. Jesus taught what should have been obvious, that the intent of the Sixth Commandment was not just to prohibit the literal act of murder, but every evil attitude of heart and mind that led to murder—including unjust anger and contemptuous words (Matthew 5:21-26).
He did likewise with their narrow view of the Seventh Commandment, "You shall not commit adultery." The Pharisees of the day understood the physical act of sexual relations with a woman outside of marriage to be sin. They should also have known, as in the case of the Sixth Commandment, that lust for another woman was sinful because the one lusting had already broken the Commandment in his heart.
These are examples of the "righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees" that Jesus characterized as making the outside of the cup and dish clean, while on the inside remaining "full of greed and self-indulgence" (Matthew 23:25, NRSV).
Jesus instructed His disciples that God's law must indeed be obeyed outwardly, but it must also be obeyed in the spirit and intent of the heart. When Jesus taught such heartfelt obedience to God's laws, He was faithful to what the Old Testament taught: "For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7).
The prophet Jeremiah looked forward to a time when God would
Was this article helpful?