17 "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. 18 Truly I tell you, 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. 19 Anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly 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. (Matthew 5:17-19)
(First English Bible- 1539 "The Great Bible")
There were some who saw Jesus as a law-breaker because the Pharisees and teachers of the law had added many more laws to what the Bible said, and interpreted the Old Testament in a very strict manner. For example, Jesus kept the Sabbath (Lk. 4:15,16)- it was his habit. But he allowed healing on the Sabbath and getting food on the Sabbath (as the Westminster Confession says "deeds of necessity and mercy"). Yet the Pharisees had no room for that in their interpretation, so they saw Jesus as a law-breaker.
Yet Jesus was very conscious of his fulfilling the Old Testament. He began his ministry by saying "Today the scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing" (Lk. 4:21). He faced his death noting that he was fulfilling scripture (Mk. 14:49). After his resurrection, on the Road to Emmaus (Lk. 24:27,44) Jesus said that the arrest, mocking, and death of Christ had to happen to fulfill the scripture. Here in Matthew 5:17 he says that he came not to break the law of the Bible to fulfill what the Bible was talking about.
Jesus saw the scriptures as futuristic-prophetic. They were not just prophetic in correcting us, but also in predicting the future. This led to his saying not the smallest letter or least stroke of a pen (Jot and tittle KJV) would be unfulfilled. The Gospel writers mention several prophecies fulfilled in Jesus that could not have intentionally been fulfilled by him- born in Bethlehem, Having his garment gambled for and left untorn (Jn. 19:24), betrayed by a friend, etc. His death was the ultimate fulfillment of all the Old Testament sacrifices (Mt. 6:6; Jn. 1:29; Heb. 10)
But he also saw the Old Testament as a law to be heeded. He even gives the warning that those who break the least commandment will be least in the kingdom of heaven. He especially warns that those who teach others to do so will be least in the kingdom of heaven as well.
If we are intellectually honest, and take the scriptures with integrity- and as a whole- we will understand Jesus deeply relied and trusted in the Old Testament. He did not see it as simply an ordinary book, or an historical book, or even a record of one people's view of God. He saw God in it, speaking through it and to us. We should too.
In our day, many do not want to believe, so they vote on what they think Jesus ought to have said, and believe they can rule out the rest. They may be in danger of breaking the least commandment and being least in the kingdom. It takes faith in the integrity of scripture in order to believe the message contained in it.
Prayer: Lord, give me faith as you had. Let me follow you not only in practice, but in faith.