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 I have commanded you . . . " (Matthew 28:20).
We do not have to go far into the gospels before we encounter the words of Jesus regarding the laws and commandments of God. In fact, near the very beginning of Jesus' well-known Sermon on the Mount he states:
"DO NOT THINK that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I DID NOT come to destroy but to fulfill. 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 5:17-18, NKJV)!
The "JOT" Jesus stated would not be removed from the law is the smallest letter found in the Greek or Hebrew alphabet. The "TITTLE" is a small point or stroke added to some Hebrew letters to help distinguish them from ones that look similar. From Jesus' statement we can only conclude that since heaven and earth are still here, God's law have not been "done away with" but are still in effect!
Did Jesus END the requirement to obey God?
Unfortunately, many people still think He came to destroy or end the need to keep the commandments. Some say Jesus "transformed" the law, meaning that by accepting Christ as Savior, a Christian is somehow credited with the righteousness of Christ. This means, according to the argument, that people don't need to keep the Law, because Jesus allegedly kept it for us. This ultimately means that Jesus did in fact "destroy the Law."
The word translated destroy in the New Testament comes from the Greek word kataluö, Strong's Concordance #G2647. It means "to loose or unloose what was before bound" (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, by Spiros Zodhiates, page 836). Another meaning of kataluõ is "annul" (Weymouth translation). So, if Jesus somehow "transformed" the Law so that we don't have to keep it, He annulled it and "loosed" us from keeping it. But Jesus emphatically tells us that He did no such thing:
"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).
The word "fulfilled" means to complete. In this case, to completely accomplish the purpose God intended.
Jesus concludes his introductory "disclaimer" 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. " (Matthew 5:19).
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. 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 mine throughout]. It appears, then, that the expression must refer to the commandments of the OT (old testament). 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 1, page 146).
Actually, the word in verse 19 translated "breaks" is related to the word in verse 17 rendered "destroy". Luõ 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. 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.
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.
Did Jesus SIN?
So, which commandments did Jesus break? The answer is found in another quote from Christ Himself, recorded in Matthew 15:
"And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the COMMANDMENTS OF MEN." (Matthew 15:9)
Jesus quoted this statement from Isaiah 29:13 and applied it to "the tradition of the elders" (Matthew 15:1) 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 (law)." It was this VERBAL version 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, . . ."
that came before each of his pronouncements (Matthew 5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43). What follows is Jesus' explanation of the proper application of the commandment upon which the particular tradition was based. Jesus 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 (verse 20) 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 of the law. This is only possible through the presence of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:7-9), which God offers upon repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38).
What are the commandments of MEN?
The commandments Jesus broke were actually those created by men! When the Jews charged Jesus with breaking the Sabbath (John 5:18), they were accusing Him of violating THEIR misguided human traditions regarding the Sabbath. The gospel accounts contain many such confrontations where Jesus' conduct on the Sabbath was condemned by the legalistic scribes and Pharisees (Mark 2:23-28, 3:1-6).
The two main sins that led to the captivity of Israel and Judah generations before 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 is human nature (Romans 8:7). They simply went from one extreme to the other. They went from careless disregard for the laws of God to fanatical legalism that violated the true intent of the laws of God and deprived them of their wholesome effect (Matthew 15:6). So in their bigoted minds, the scribes and Pharisees considered Jesus Christ a sinner worthy of death because he broke these commandments of men which they considered even MORE binding than the law of God they vainly sought to interpret.
How did he clarify God's law?
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 cannot 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 not FOR us. According to the apostle Paul:
"as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION with fear and trembling;" (Philippians 2:12)
Paul then immediately states where the power to work out salvation come from:
"for it is God who works in you both TO WILL and TO DO for His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13).
Love is the basis of God's law, and one cannot claim to love God apart from obedience to His commandments (1John 5:2-3, 2:4).
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. Even today those who seek to keep the Sabbath as a commandment of God are condemned by others who also say they worship God. The majority of the Christian world has abandoned this blessed gift God made for all mankind (Mark 2:28) and are keeping instead a different day which is based on HUMAN TRADITION. Once again the pendulum of human nature has swung. From legalism back to careless disregard for the laws of God such as the Sabbath. By replacing the laws and commandments of God with human traditions many people, like the scribes, Pharisees and other religious leaders at the time of Jesus, have:
"made the commandment of God of no effect by YOUR tradition." (Matthew 15:6).