The rug was about to be yanked; all that stood upon it would no longer remain standing.
The mountain was about to explode; life as it had been would never be the same again. The familiar would become dark; the past would get passed over; the old would be replaced by new. The words of God were about to be so significantly changed as to render the established system of worship untenable.
In precedent of the unthinkable, Jesus advises his audience to think about him, what he was doing, and what he was about to say differently than natural. If they were to be able to receive his shocking revelations, they would have to begin by renewing their way of thinking. They could not stand upon old patterns of thought and practice. The cosmic order of godliness in humanity was about to shift directions and spin along a very different course.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Mt 5:17).
The Old Covenant law and all extending from it was changing, not by dismissal but through fulfillment. This was not presented as a magnification, as if just a deeper, heart focus was being added; it was a fundamental shift of focus. What had formerly dominated the religious landscape of understanding was about to be declared but a thin shadow of something much more real. Adherents would be expected to turn their attention, their adoration, and their practice from the obscure reflection and instead embrace the reality being presented in the person, work, and words of Jesus Christ.
Jesus warns against those who break the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same. Understandably the audience would have expected that this Jewish Rabbi would have implied by this that the Ten Commandments must forever be upheld as they are. Shockingly, he then yanks the rug out from under their expectations and begins by quoting the sixth commandment regarding murder followed with “but I tell you”.
To this point, Jesus continues in the Sermon on the Mount to demonstrate this dramatic shift. You have heard it said (by God) not to murder, but I (this human named Jesus who stands before you) tell you that expressing anger will now be the same as murder. The law (given by God) said they could make oaths, but (this Jesus guy) instead says don’t make such oaths at all. God told Israel to seek an eye for an eye in revenge, but this newcomer denies this command and claims that believers must now turn the other check and allow persecutors to abuse them. Genocide was condoned under the former system, but not any more.
Unclean meats were strictly forbidden and blood must never be consumed, but this Rabbi is now demanding that they eat his flesh and drink his blood. Followers are even told that claiming worship of the one God will be considered invalid if they don’t worship Jesus–try fitting that truth into how the first two of the Ten Commandments is worded and traditionally understood. The rug had been yanked.
This is not a magnification, it is an outright replacement. It is a replacement of law with a Life. The fulfillment is a culminating in Jesus. In this way there remains a stringent standard of law, but it completely shifts everything.
This was the soil for New Covenant belief. For many who had thrived on holy ground, this upturned soil became caustic; the mineral content was far too rich for tender plants to continue as they had been. In order to survive and thrive both Jew and Gentile would have to be grafted into the only root system capable of rendering the martian soil nutritious.
Jesus is the only way to God; there is simply no provision for maintaining any former patterns. Everything finds its fulfillment in Christ. If a believer has him, they have Life eternal. Everything else is empty hope.
He alone is our law, our system of worship, our King, our sacrifice, our faith, our righteousness, our salvation. We no longer stand upon elegant rugs; our foundation is the eternal Rock of Ages.
How has your thinking changed to accept fulfillment in Jesus?