“‘Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 5:19).
Jesus did acknowledge that not all of God’s commands are of equal importance. He told a pharisaical lawyer that one divine commandment is above all others and that another is second (Matt. 22:37–39). Thus all the other commandments fall somewhere below those two and vary in significance.
People resent prohibitions and demands on their behavior. Even believers, out of ignorance, misunderstanding, or blatant disregard, sometimes want to water down God’s standards. But when anyone “annuls” (breaks, sets loose) any part of God’s Word, he or she is not following Christ’s example.
Our Lord’s point here in the sermon, however, is that we must not annul—by ignoring, modifying, or disobeying—even the smallest aspect of God’s law. Some commands might be greater than others, but none should be disregarded. Paul did not pick and choose what he would teach. He did emphasize some issues more than others, but he omitted nothing (Acts 20:27). And we certainly must not teach others to disregard or disobey any portion of the law. To do so shows that our disobedience is conscious and intentional.
Jesus does not restrict His warning to formal teachers. By example, every Christian teaches those around him to be more obedient or more disobedient. Our words of respect for God’s Word present a guide for others. To speak disparagingly of the Word or to ignore its requirements presents testimony to others of the law’s unimportance to us. This ought to be the furthest thing from our agenda.
On what subject matters do you find yourself most tempted to comment, “I know what the Bible says, but . . .”?
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610