This piece by Kevin DeYoung has a bit of an “edge,” but still, probably a good two-minute thought experiment. Here’s what you won’t read in the Gospel of Matthew…
“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.
“But on the other hand, do not think that I have come to completely affirm everything in the Law or Prophets either. There are stories in the Old Testament that did not happen as they are recorded. Sometimes, God’s people thought they heard the voice of God, but were mistaken. Other times, ancient people used God to justify their violence and exclusion. We can still read those parts of the Hebrew Bible and learn how unenlightened people used to think, but those sections are best corrected or set aside.
“For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
“Obviously, this is a bit of an overstatement–Jewish hyperbole, poetic license, that sort of thing. By “jots and tittles” I don’t mean every bit of chronology, cosmology, or history. I’m just trying to say that the Old Testament is still really important and that it points to me. But whether, say, the exodus happened like it says in Exodus, or if Isaiah made any predictive prophesies, or whether the whole storyline of the Old Testament is out of whack–that kind of thing is not terribly important.
“Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
“Again, let me clarify: I’m not actually against relaxing some of the more outdated commandments. After all, who doesn’t like relaxing! I don’t want my disciples getting hung up on minutia. As long as you are concerned about love–whatever you understand that to be–I wouldn’t worry about the particulars. People need relationships not rules, you know.
“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
“In hindsight, this is probably not the best way to express myself. I’m sorry for anyone who was hurt by the whole “never enter the kingdom of heaven” bit. That’s just an figure of speech for “the best way to live!” And I apologize if the righteousness piece felt legalistic. When I talk about hungering after righteousness or pursuing righteousness I’m thinking more on a cosmic level, not so much about your personal holiness. The only righteousness I expect to see from you is being right enough to know you are wrong. Look, the last thing I want is for people to get uptight with the Bible and start freaking out about doing everything by the book.”
And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were super cool with his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had a realistic understanding of the Bible and helped the disciples feel better about themselves.