When Jesus said,
Don’t think I am come to destroy the law. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill it, I don’t really think Jesus’ disciples thought that was a strange thing to say at all. In fact, I think they might have wondered why he was telling them that. When he said,
Verily I say unto you, not one jot nor tittle shall pass from the law ’til heaven and earth shall pass, I don’t think that was especially surprising to men who believed in the law. So what was Jesus driving at? Why was the emphasis here? Why was he bringing this up? Well, he ended this short section of the Sermon on the Mount by saying this:
For I say unto 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.
In other words, there are two standards here. There is the standard that the scribes and Pharisees would adhere to, but I am going to suggest that there is another standard which may be even higher than that.
What I think is often overlooked by people reading through this is the significance of Jesus saying
not one jot nor tittle—that is, not one dotting of the i or crossing of the t—shall pass from the law. He is talking about the written law—as it is only in writing that we dot is and cross ts. What’s the big deal about that, you ask? Well, it is well understood by Jews—but not so well known by Christians—that there were two sets of law recognized among Jesus’ listeners. Knowing the differences between them is crucial to understanding Jesus’ words.