“He who does the commandments and teaches them shall be called great”

The Gospel of Matthew: a commentary & meditation 

“He who does the commandments and teaches them shall be called great”

Scripture: Matthew 5:17-19

17 “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. 18 For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away,not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does  them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Meditation: Why do people tend to view the “law of God” negatively rather than positively? Jesus’ attitude towards the law of God can be summed up in the great prayer of Psalm 119: “Oh, how I love your law!  It is my meditation all the day.” For the people of Israel the “law” could refer to the ten commandments or to the five Books of Moses, called the Pentateuch, which explain the commandments and ordinances of God for his people.  The “law” also referred to the whole teaching or way of life which God gave to his people. The Jews in Jesus’ time also used it as a description of the oral or scribal law.  Needless to say, the scribes added many more things to the law than God intended.  That is why Jesus often condemned the scribal law.  It placed burdens on people which God had not intended.  Jesus, however, made it very clear that the essence of God’s law — his commandments and way of life, must be fulfilled.

The law of God is truth and when we live according to that truth it produces the fruits of righteousness, holiness, peace, and joy.  Jesus taught reverence for God’s law — reverence for God himself, for the Lord’s Day, reverence or respect for parents, respect for life, for property, for another person’s good name, respect for oneself and for one’s neighbor lest wrong or hurtful desires master us.  Reverence and respect for God’s commandments teach us the way of love — love of God and love of neighbor.  What is impossible to men is possible to God and those who have faith in God.  God gives us the grace to love as he loves, to forgive as he forgives, to think as he thinks, and to act as he acts.  The Lord loves righteousness and hates wickedness.  As his followers we must love his commandments and hate every form of sin. Do you love the commands of the Lord?

“Lord Jesus, grant this day, to direct and sanctify, to rule and govern our hearts and bodies, so that all our thoughts, words and deeds may be according to your Father’s law and thus may we be saved and protected through your mighty help.”