Which Commandments Did Jesus Break?

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Which Commandments Did Jesus Break?

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Yes, you read it right: Which commandments did Jesus break? It may come as a shock to realize that Jesus broke any commandments. But He did. And knowing which commandments He broke and why He broke them is important for you to understand.

Let’s look at the account of one such accusation, in John 5:18 John 5:18Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
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: “Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.”

Now, before anyone jumps to a wrong conclusion, let’s understand what this verse means. Did Jesus break the Sabbath commandment in the law of God (Exodus 20:8-11 Exodus 20:8-11 8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shall you labor, and do all your work: 10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates: 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: why the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
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, Deuteronomy 5:12-15 Deuteronomy 5:12-15 12 Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work: 14 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your ox, nor your ass, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates; that your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as you. 15 And remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD your God brought you out there through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.
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)? Let’s let Jesus Himself answer that question: “I have kept my Father’s commandments,” He said (John 15:10 John 15:10If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
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).

Jesus Christ came to set the record straight regarding the law of God. He lived a sinfree life and died to deliver us from the death penalty for our sins.

Also, in response to the young man who asked Him what to do to inherit eternal life, Jesus said, “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17 Matthew 19:17And he said to him, Why call you me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if you will enter into life, keep the commandments.
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). The verses following clearly identify the commandments He referred to as those God gave in what we call the Old Testament. He cited several of the Ten Commandments as well as the fundamental commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” to make the point.

On another occasion, Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4 Matthew 4:4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
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). Clearly, Jesus believed in, taught and kept all the commandments of God during His earthly ministry. He also commanded His disciples to be “teaching them [new converts] to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20 Matthew 28:20Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
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).

In the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus clearly and forcefully states His theological position on the law of God: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets …” (Matthew 5:17 Matthew 5:17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
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).

Did Jesus destroy the law?

Unfortunately, many think He did just that. Even though they don’t say it in those exact words, the result is still the same. Some say Jesus transformed the law, meaning that, by accepting Christ as Savior, a Christian is somehow credited with the righteousness of Christ. They assume this means we don’t need to keep the law, because Jesus allegedly kept it for us, and the law really doesn’t apply to us after all.

The effect of this reasoning is that Jesus did in fact destroy the law, because the word “destroy” (kataluo in Greek) means “to loose or unloose what was before bound” (Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary , p. 836). So, if Jesus somehow transformed the law so that we don’t have to keep it, He loosed us from its obligation.

But Jesus emphatically tells us that He did no such thing. To make His point even further, He said, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18 Matthew 5:18For truly I say to you, Till heaven and earth pass, one stroke or one pronunciation mark shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
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).

The word fulfill means “to complete,” or to completely accomplish the purpose God intended. Heaven and earth have still not passed away.

Another meaning of kataluo is “annul,” as is used in the Weymouth translation. So God’s laws are never annulled or repealed. They remain in effect as long as the conditions they govern continue to exist. Every detail! Not even a jot or tittle-the tiniest portions of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet-is exempted.

Jesus concludes His statement about God’s law with a solemn warning to religious teachers: “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (verse 19).

Some carelessly assume and assert that “these commandments” refers to the teachings of Christ that follow in the remainder of the chapter. Not so! The wording of the Greek text simply will not allow such an interpretation.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary explains: “But what are `these commandments’? It is hard to justify restriction of these words to Jesus’ teachings … for the noun in Matthew never refers to Jesus’ words, and the context argues against it. Restriction to the Ten Commandments

… is equally alien to the concerns of the context. Nor can we say `these commandments’ refers to the antitheses that follow, for in Matthew houtos (`this,’ pl. `these’) never points forward [emphasis added throughout]. It appears, then, that the expression must refer to the commandments of the OT Scriptures. The entire Law and the Prophets are not scrapped by Jesus’ coming but fulfilled. Therefore the commandments of these Scriptures-even the least of them … must be practiced … The law pointed forward to Jesus and his teaching … so he, in fulfilling it, establishes … the way it is to be obeyed” (Volume 8, p. 146).

Actually, the word in verse 19 translated “breaks” (luo in Greek) is related to the word in verse 17 rendered destroy (katalu). Luo literally means “to loose.” The Greek concept of destruction is to break or take apart. Loosening a part is the first step in taking apart-thus breaking or destroying-an object.

Jesus’ warning

So Jesus’ warning not only applies to anyone who disobeys even a minor detail of God’s law and teaches others to do the same. Even “loosing,” or relaxing, any of the requirements is forbidden, because that is the first step toward destroying the law. Jesus pronounces the severest penalty on any who would break or loosen even the least of the Old Testament commandments.

Perhaps you have heard the story, “For lack of a lace, a shoe was lost.

For lack of a shoe, a soldier was lost. For lack of a soldier, a battle was lost. For lack of a battle the war was lost.”

The lesson is clear. No one should be careless about any detail of God’s law, however minor it may seem.

The scribes and Pharisees knew the two main sins that led to the captivity were Sabbathbreaking and idolatry. They determined never to make the same mistake again.

Jesus emphatically did not break any of God’s commandments. Not even the slightest detail!

So which commandments did Jesus break? The answer is found in another quote from Christ Himself, recorded in Matthew 15:9 Matthew 15:9But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
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: “And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” Jesus quoted this statement from Isaiah 29:13 Isaiah 29:13Why the Lord said, For as much as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:
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and applied it to the “tradition of the elders” (Matthew 15:2 Matthew 15:2Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
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) as taught and practiced by the hypocritical, self-righteous scribes and Pharisees who sat in judgment of Him.

These “commandments” were also known to the Jews as the “oral Torah,” the oral law. It was this distorted interpretation of the law that Jesus sought to correct in the Sermon on the Mount. This is clearly evident by His statement, “You have heard that it was said to those of old,” which prefaced each of his pronouncements (Matthew 5:21 Matthew 5:21You have heard that it was said of them of old time, You shall not kill; and whoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
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, Matthew 5:27 Matthew 5:27You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery:
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, Matthew 5:31 Matthew 5:31It has been said, Whoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorce:
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, Matthew 5:33 Matthew 5:33Again, you have heard that it has been said by them of old time, You shall not forswear yourself, but shall perform to the Lord your oaths:
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, Matthew 5:38 Matthew 5:38You have heard that it has been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
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, Matthew 5:43 Matthew 5:43You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.
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).

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary explains that He listed “a number of much-cited rabbinic parallels … Jesus is not criticizing the OT but the understanding of the OT many of his hearers adopted. This is especially true of vv.22, 43, where part of what was `heard’ certainly does not come from the OT … In every case Jesus contrasts the people’s misunderstanding of the law with the true direction in which the law points” (Volume 8, pp. 147, 148).

Jesus explained the proper application of the commandment upon which the particular tradition was based. He thus fulfilled the law by restoring it to its complete original meaning and intent. Our righteousness must therefore exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 5:20 Matthew 5:20For I say to you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
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) in that we must keep the law of God in its proper intent.

To put it another way, we must keep the spirit of the law, not just the letter. This is possible only through the presence of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:7-9 Romans 8:7-9 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
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), which God offers upon repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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).

The commandments Jesus broke were the commandments of men. When the Jews charged Jesus with breaking the Sabbath (John 5:18 John 5:18Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
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), they were accusing Him of violating their misguided human traditions regarding the Sabbath. The Gospel accounts contain many such confrontations during which Jesus’ conduct on the Sabbath was condemned by the legalistic scribes and Pharisees (Mark 2:23-28 Mark 2:23-28 23 And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. 24 And the Pharisees said to him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? 25 And he said to them, Have you never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungered, he, and they that were with him? 26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the show bread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? 27 And he said to them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: 28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
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; Mark 3:1-6 Mark 3:1-6 1 And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. 2 And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. 4 And he said to them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. 5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he said to the man, Stretch forth your hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. 6 And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.
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).

From ditch to ditch

Why was it such an issue to them? They knew that the two main sins that led to the captivity of Israel and Judah generations earlier were Sabbath-breaking and idolatry (Ezekiel 20). Having learned their lesson, the returning captives determined never to make the same mistake again.

But they failed to deal with the underlying problem, which was human nature (Romans 8:7 Romans 8:7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
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). They simply went from one extreme to the other, from careless disregard for the laws of God to a fanatical legalism that violated the true intent of the laws of God and deprived them of their beneficial effect (Matthew 15:6 Matthew 15:6And honor not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have you made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
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).

So, in their extremely narrow view, the scribes and Pharisees considered Jesus Christ a sinner worthy of death because He broke these commandments of men-rules which they considered even more binding than the law of God they vainly sought to interpret.

Jesus Christ came to set the record straight regarding the law of God. He obeyed it perfectly and commands us to follow His example and teaching.

Of course we will never live up to His perfect example, even though that should be our desire and intent. Jesus did not live by the law of God to deliver us from the obligation to obey it. He lived a sin-free life and died to deliver us from the death penalty for our sins because we have all broken the law.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus offers to live in us. But He does not live our lives for us. We must all repent and yield ourselves as servants of righteousness, with the realization that God is working in us “both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13 Philippians 2:13For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
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). Love is the basis of God’s law, and one cannot claim to love God apart from obedience to His commandments (1 John 5:2-3 1 John 5:2-3 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
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, 1 John 2:4 1 John 2:4He that said, I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
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).

The specific commandment Jesus stands accused of breaking is the Sabbath, which is the epitome of the blessings of the entire law of God and a type of the master plan of God. The majority of the Christian world has abandoned this blessed gift God made for all mankind (Mark 2:27 Mark 2:27And he said to them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:
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). Instead, most keep a different day based on human tradition, or ignore the Sabbath commandment altogether.

Once again the pendulum of human nature has swung, from legalism back to careless disregard for the laws of God, especially the Sabbath. By replacing the laws and commandments of God with human traditions-especially by substituting Sunday for the Sabbath, and tradition-based holidays for God’s Holy Days-many today have “made the commandment of God of no effect by [their] tradition” (Matthew 15:6 Matthew 15:6And honor not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have you made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
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