One of the key questions to understanding the sermon on the mount, is the order of the sermon.
Is it coincidence that Jesus first gave us the beatitudes, speaking a blessing over the broken people who were there with him, before telling them that they were salt and light?
was it laid out in advance?
I am not sure, but I don’t really get an image of Jesus going into his sermons with an outline. I think its probable that everything he said was incredibly timely and that he discerned what it was the the people needed to hear next, and I think that its very likely that he said what he said here about the law, because he realized that these people were beginning to go somewhere in their minds.
again, you have to consider the crowd. Just take the disciples… the bible says that they were often slow to understand. they were uneducated fishermen… beyond the uneducated fishermen were a group of outcasts who had just been told that they are blessed… that they are salt and that they are light.
Could it be that these things were already getting to their heads?
He says “do not think…”
did he get the impression that they had begun to think this?
Jesus has brought a brand new, upside down Kingdom, and with it he has promised the marginalized crowd on the outskirts of the mountain and his ragamuffin group of disciples, that they were ultimately going to be the image bearers of hope.
Could it be that these people began to think in their minds, that everything he was teaching meant he was replacing the law with himself… and that in the new role he had just given them, of being salt and light, meant that they no longer needed to follow the law, but instead needed follow this new teaching.
So right away he brings them back to reality. He says “I didn’t come to do away with the law. Heaven and earth will pass away before the law does… I came to fulfill the law!’
I am sure they were thinking, okay, awesome, glad we got that out of the way. Now lets go back to our beards that we can’t cut, our side burns we can’t trim, the foods we can’t mix together, and the 613 laws that we have spent our whole lives trying to keep even though we know that it is impossible for anybody to ever keep them all perfectly… Why would we have thought that he came to do away with those laws? Silly us.
He only is claiming that he will fulfill them.
"oh... much better... and to think I actually thought he was saying........"
and then its likely they had another moment… one of those “Wait a second!” moments.
Fulfill the law? Is this guy crazy?!!!????!?!!?!?!?!!!!?