Jesus and Law

What Jesus said about the law was consistent with the Mosaic Covenant and its view of righteousness and moral purity. In his teaching, Jesus openly supported the provisions of law in the covenant. He criticized those he believed were living by the letter of the law while violating its spirit. Jesus attacked hypocrisy along with others of his time, but he did not attack the law itself. He emphasized that internal conformity with the intent of the law was as important as external action. Jesus did not criticize the law itself, but he did attack those who claimed to live by it but did not.

People often assume that Jesus was somehow against the law, because he often argued with scribes and Pharisees. Nothing could be further from the truth. In those days, it was normal for teachers to argue among themselves about how the law worked in different situations. The questions that the authorities on law bring to Jesus are the same questions they discussed in conversation with each other. These interactions show that Jesus was treated like a colleague in their conversations, not that he was an outsider or an enemy.

Jesus was born into Jewish culture and built on that foundation. He accepted its scripture, its common wisdom, and the many ways that a relationship with God was lived out. His teaching was not about creating a new religion or a new way of life. Instead, he interpreted the provisions of the Mosaic Covenant, the law given to Moses, to bring human practices closer to the will of God.