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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, January 14 2021

Which commandments did Jesus break?

It may come as a surprise to realise Jesus did break some commandments. So knowing which commandments He broke and why He broke them is important for us to understand.

by Larry Walker

In John 5:18 we are told: "Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God."

But did Jesus really break the Sabbath commandment (Exodus 20:8-11, Deuteronomy 5:12-15)? Jesus denies that He did so stating: "...I have kept my Father's commandments..."(John 15:10).

Also, in response to the young man who asked Him what to do to inherit eternal life, Jesus answered, "...if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matthew 19:17). The following verses then clearly identify the commandments Jesus referred to as those given in the Old Testament. He cites several of the Ten Commandments, as well as the fundamental commandment to "love your neighbour as yourself."

Christ drives home the necessity to keep the Ten Commandments even further in Matthew 5:18 -19: "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven"

Some assume "these commandments" refers to the teachings of Christ that follow in the remainder of the chapter. This is not so! The wording of the Greek text simply does not allow such an interpretation. The Expositor's Bible Commentary explains: “... the expression must refer to the commandments of the OT Scriptures. The entire Law and the Prophets are not scrapped by Jesus' coming, but fulfilled. Therefore the commandments . . . must be practiced..."(Volume 8, p. 146).

So Which Commandments Did Jesus Break?

The answer is found in a quote from Christ recorded in Matthew 15:9: "And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." These "commandments" were also known as the "oral Torah," or the oral law. It was this distorted interpretation of the law Jesus sought to correct in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapter 5).

The Expositor's Bible Commentary again clarifies: “. . . Jesus is not criticizing the OT but the understanding of the OT many of his hearers adopted . . . In every case Jesus contrasts the people's misunderstanding of the law with the true direction in which the law points" (Volume 8, pp. 147, 148).

Jesus explained the proper application of the commandments and fulfilled the law by restoring it to its original meaning and intent. He made it clear we must keep the spirit of the law, not just the letter, and that this is only possible through the presence of God’s Holy Spirit (Romans 8:7-9) which is offered upon repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38).

The Gospel accounts contain many such confrontations during which Jesus' conduct on the Sabbath was condemned by the legalistic scribes and Pharisees (Mark 2:23-28; Mark 3:1-6). In their extremely narrow view, the Scribes and Pharisees considered Jesus Christ a sinner worthy of death because He broke these additional “commandments” consisting of man-made rules.

Clearly, Jesus believed in, taught and kept all the commandments of God. He lived a life free of sin and died to deliver us from the death penalty for our sins.