Was Jesus an Anarchist?

May 5, 2014

Matthew 5:17

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. (In Context)


Permit me to begin with a very imperfect and oversimplified analogy to get at what Jesus is teaching here.

Imagine that John Adams, the second President of the United States and one of the primary authors of its Constitution, somehow showed up on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. in 2014. And what if he asked for a rundown of how the Constitution had been interpreted over the history of the nation? Don’t you think he would be astonished at the insanity and a sheer absurdity of some of the rulings and interpretations made by his successors through the years? He would likely be outraged at many points, scratching his head while comparing some of the court’s interpretations and rulings to the original founding document of the Constitution.

What if his purpose in coming were to restore the laws of the land to the original intent of the Constitution? He would likely  begin by rescinding many of the laws and precedents that he considered were not in keeping with the intent of he and his colleagues who wrote the founding governing document of the country. In other words, it would look to the untrained eye as though he were destroying the laws of the land, but would he be destroying the Constitution? Absolutely not. The reality? He would be working toward the fulfillment of the constitution. And you can be sure, it wouldn’t take long until many would be trying to kill him.

Now, in light of that analogy along the lines of the destruction and fulfillment of law, take a look at this story.

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. (Mark 3:1-6 in context)

To be sure, Jesus fulfilled the Law by his perfect obedience and through his death and resurrection. At the same time, through his life, deeds, and teachings he fulfilled the law by restoring our understanding of its original glory. Hear Wesley on this point.

Without question, his meaning in this place is (consistently with all that goes before and follows after), I am come to establish it in its fullness, in spite of all the glosses of men; I am come to place in a full and clear view whatsoever was dark or obscure therein; I am come to declare the true and full import of every part of it; to show the length and breadth, the entire extent of every commandment contained therein, and the height and depth, the inconceivable purity and spirituality of it in all its branches. p.92

From here he will take a deep dive into the depths of the law and reveal to us its brilliance for our lives. Ten commandments are about to become one Law. He’s about to unfold for us the incomparable vision of HOLY LOVE. Stay tuned.

Get your copy of Wesley’s Sermons on the Sermon on the Mount HERE. Use the code DAILYTEXT for a 25% discount. 

J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at

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