What Did Jesus Teach About the Law of Moses?

The New Testament portrays Joseph and Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, as observant Jews (Luke 2:22-24). Luke reveals that Jesus was raised according to the customs of the people (Luke 2:41-42). We assume, therefore, that Jesus observed the Law of Moses as an obedient and faithful son of the Law.

During his mortal ministry, Jesus Christ often quoted from the Jewish scriptures—from the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms ( Luke 4:4, 8, 12). During his famous Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught, “Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17-18).

Like other Jewish religious leaders and teachers of his day, Jesus challenged the people of Israel to live the heart and purpose of the Law of Moses; condemning hypocrisy (Matthew 15:3-9).

Jesus Christ believed the Ten Commandments were at the very heart of the Law; the fundamental summation of humankind’s obligation to God and to others for all time (Matthew 19:16-19).

When asked which one was the greatest of commandments of the Ten, Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:36-40).

In this Jesus Christ provides humankind a powerful and clear set of principles rooted firmly in the Law of Moses that should govern individual and collective behavior–to act honorably and caringly to those we meet along the journey of life.