Friday of Epiphany V – Matthew 5:13-20

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

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 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes 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 does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

When I was a child and we still sometimes read the King James Version, Jesus was heard to say in verse 18 that “not a jot or a tittle shall pass from the Law…” A “jot” is the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet. It looks a little like an apostrophe and sits, like an apostrophe, above the line of text. A tittle is a small pen stroke which helps readers of Hebrew differentiate some letters that look similar to each other, it is like a little tail or even a serif. Many typefaces make use of similar little tails on letters. If you have ever used Times New Roman in a document, it has serifs.

Jesus tells us that not even the smallest letter or the stroke of a pen shall pass from the Law until it is accomplished. That includes all the promises that God made to Adam and Eve, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It includes God’s promise to redeem His people and rescue them. Of course, it includes a great number of rules and laws and ordinances as well. They too will have their completion, but we know that they have been completed in Christ.

Jesus tells us that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the greatest church-goers of all time, it is insufficient. Praise God that Jesus has fulfilled the Law and in His cross he has given that obedience and righteousness to us. Now we can let our light shine and we can be the salt of the earth, making it better and preserving what we can preserve of God’s goodness. For Jesus has fulfilled the Law.

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