”Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law of the Prophets; "I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks 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 practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of thew, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:17-20)Jesus is dispelling questions relating to those who considered him a radical, or heretical.
Jesus was not a rebel or a fanatic
While Jesus preached against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus was by no means rebelling against the spiritual injunctions set forth by the lineage of prophets before him - up through his teacher, John the Baptist.
Central to this are Moses’ commandments. These were not only acknowledged by Jesus, but supported as key instructions. Those who not only break God's instructions but also those who teach others to break them are spoken as having a lower spiritual level.
This also is consistent with the instruction within the Garden of Eden event: Adam disregarded God's instructions to not eat the symbolic fruit of the symbolic tree, but Adam did anyway. This rebellion caused Adam's banishment from the spiritual realm to the physical realm:
The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.....So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out...." (Genesis 3:21-23)The commandments of God are clear. They provide rules that not only make for a civilized world but also provide a mechanism for growing spiritually by abandoning selfish and hurtful behavior. Still, it must also be clear that among God's instructions is one considered the greatest. The greatest commandment according to both Jesus and Moses is clear: Moses said the greatest commandment is:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deut. 6:5)
How the Prophets' teachings were fulfilled
Many sectarian institutions propose that Jesus was fulfilling the Prophets' teachings because they were predicting his eventual life and teachings. While they may have predicted Jesus' arrival, the purpose of the Prophets' lives and teachings was not to predict Jesus life. Their purpose was the same as Jesus - to help others achieve love for God.
This was the purpose of their teachings.
And to "fulfill" those teachings according to Jesus was to practice them. Jesus was practicing the "laws" (instructions) of the prophets. He was loving God, and He was doing God’s will. This is the essential element of Jesus' life and teachings.
In no way was Jesus trying to deny or reduce the importance of the teachings of the prophets in his teachings. Those of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, John the Baptist, and others were all supported by Jesus' teachings.
And as evidenced here, Jesus' purpose was to bring those teachings to life: To provide clear and practical applications of the teachings of the prophets to the people of his culture, time and circumstance.
This is the appropriate goal of any bona fide spiritual teacher. To teach consistent with the message of prior representatives of God, but tailored for the understanding of a current audience.
Quite simply, the seeking of authority in the physical world is a perverted or upside down reflection of the spiritual world. Here in the physical world we seek our own power and authority - self-centered objectives.
But in the spiritual realm, the focus is on God and God's loving servants - how to please them and how much they are pleased. The focus is on their power and authority.
In the spiritual world, the ultimate focus is God's happiness. And because God wants us back, pleasing God by those who love Him is expressed by helping others re-establish their lost loving relationship with God.
This was Jesus' goal: To please God by helping others come to love God. This is why, when his disciples were concerned about Jesus not getting enough to eat, he said:
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work." (John 4:34)Jesus was focused on pleasing the Supreme Being - who sent Jesus. This is love.
Love is not just a word - it is a relationship. And loving God is having a relationship with the Supreme Being.
This is what Jesus was trying to teach others. This is evidenced by his most important instruction, which was quoted directly from the prophet Moses:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38 & Deut. 6:5)