Did Jesus Keep the Decalogue?

Scoffers say Jesus did not keep even one of the ten commandments – A Rebuttal.

Did Jesus Keep the Decalogue?

Sometime ago, a noted atheist in Kerala mocked the Lord Jesus as having broken all ten commandments of the Decalogue. Many scoffers enjoyed it and made the video viral. Here is a brief examination of it from the New Testament and a rebuttal of this foolish claim of the atheists.

Regarding the relationship of Lord Jesus and the Ten Commandments, we can make the following observations from Scripture.

First of all, Jesus’ attitude to the Law was one of utmost reverence and obedience. He did not perceive Himself to be a radical who dismisses or breaks the Law (Matt.5:17-20).

Lord Jesus kept the first commandment as in the days of His flesh, He worshipped no other God but Lord God of Israel alone, He did all things out of obedience to the Father (Jn.15:10) for the Father’s glory alone (Jn. 17:4; 12:27-28), prayed to the Father always (Mk. 1:35, Heb. 5:7), and worshipped the Father alone (Heb. 2:12; Lk.4:16). To suggest Jesus’ teaching as a compromise of the Monotheism of the Old Testament is to misunderstand both Jesus and the Old Testament. Even in the Old Testament, there is a shadow of the plurality of Persons in the Godhead (Ps.110:1, 4; Ps. 2:7-9 cf. Acts 13:33, Heb. 5:5-6). The doctrine of the Trinity is not a compromise of Monotheism, as Monotheism (there is only one God) does not necessarily imply unitarianism (there is only one Person of God).

Lord Jesus kept the second commandment as He worshipped no strange gods of paganism, nor did He indulge in any false worship of the Lord God in any form of idolatry. Rather, He taught what true worship must be (Jn. 4:24), confronted irrational worship (Jn. 4:22), and condemned hypocritical worship (Matt. 15:7-9).

The third commandment is against an irreverent or vulgar use of the divine name. It does not condemn teaching or talking about God by a believer or a teacher. So when Jesus taught about God, He was not violating the commandment. The commandment is clear that we should not take the Lord’s name in vain, not take the Lord’s name at all. Moreover, Jesus always acknowledged His words about God as something given to Him by the Father (Jn. 12:49; 17:8). As the final prophet of God’s people, He thus spoke the very words of God. When God speaks of God, there is no violation of anything in the third commandment as it is by definition about humans talking about God and the possibility of an irreverent heart behind a careless mouth. The commandment also goes on to say that all those who thus speak of the Lord God shall in no wise be spared by the Lord. In other words, mockers and scoffers who conduct conferences and speak blasphemies like these against God are clearly the ones in the purview of this commandment.

Jesus kept the fourth commandment as it was His custom to worship the Lord on the Sabbath (Lk.4:16). All his healings and miracles on the Sabbath were to correct the legalistic misunderstandings of the Pharisees concerning the Sabbath. All the teachings of Jesus on Sabbath give room for deeds of necessity (Mk. 2:23-28) and mercy (Mk. 3:1-6) to be done on the Sabbath.

Jesus kept the fifth commandment as He honoured His parents by His submission to them (Lk. 2:51), and civil authorities (Mk. 12:17; Matt. 17:24-27). Moreover, He rebuked the Pharisees for their false zeal for religion whereby they ignored the fifth commandment and did not support their parents (Matt. 15:3-9). Also, Jesus calling Mary, "Woman" does not connote any disrespect. First of all, the Greek word is a term that does not conjure any such connotation of irreverence as in some of our modern languages. To import such connotations to the Greek is anachronistic.

Jesus did not break the sixth commandment as He never took anyone’s life, rather He offered His life for His enemies. The interpretation of the sixth commandment by Jesus is found in His sermon on the mount where He shows the true intent of the commandment is loving your neighbor and not even having anger towards him (Matt. 5:21-26; cf. Matt. 5:38-48). To point to the various battles and pronouncements of judgment in the Old Testament as God Himself violating this commandment is fallacious. First of all, the commandment that one should not commit murder is grounded on the fact that only the Lord who gives life can take life (Gen.9:5-6; Rom. 12:19-21) and hence anyone who commits murder is playing God in his pride. Secondly, pronouncements of the wrath of God in the judgement of human sin is not murder. Murder, by definition, is one human taking the life of another. God as the creator and supreme judge of His creation can execute judgment. Even civil justice follows the same principle when ordinary civilians cannot commit murder, but a court can order capital punishment of a culprit. No one calls the court as having committed murder. Thirdly, all the battles of God’s people against pagans are not mere tribal warfare but the means by which God brought divine judgment of their sins (Duet.9:5; 18:9,12). When Israel, in turn, rebelled against God, He did the same to them by bringing foreign armies to plunder the people and land of Israel (Isa. 10:5-11).

Jesus kept the seventh commandment and taught that even to look at a woman with lust is committing adultery in one’s heart (Matt. 5:27-30). Moreover, He positively demonstrated what it means to be faithful to one’s bride, by offering His life on the cross for His bride, the church - the reality to which all earthly marriages are a shadow (Eph. 5:22-33). To misrepresent the virgin birth of Jesus as suggesting a violation of this commandment can only come from those who have ulterior motives. The Bible does not shy away from reporting that in even in Jesus’ own days there were scoffers who said such nonsense about Him (Mk. 6:3; Jn.8:41). The virgin birth was first proclaimed 700 years before Christ by the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 7:14) in the Old Testament, not a teaching cooked up by Jesus or His followers.

Jesus kept the eighth commandment as he embodied the generosity of God in His own sacrifice on the Cross (Jn. 3:16), and He opposed all who used religion to make money (Matt. 21:13).

Jesus kept the ninth commandment as He always spoke the truth (Jn. 8:45-47), taught His disciples to speak the truth always whether under oath or not (Matt. 5:33-37). Moreover, Jesus claimed He Himself is the Truth (Jn. 14:6). To merely assert Jesus taught a lot of false things is only an opinion, not a substantiated fact.

Jesus kept the tenth commandment as He did not covet anything that was not given to Him by the Father. Rather, He taught His disciples to give liberally even to one’s enemies (Matt. 5:40-42), and to not worry about material things by finding security rather in their Heavenly Father’s love (Matt. 6:19-34).

Jesus Himself summarized the entire Old Testament as teaching the twin truths of loving the Lord God with all your heart and loving your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:34-40). To assert that Jesus did not care about the Law or disobeyed it is to say He did not care about loving God and others wholeheartedly. Even a cursory reading of the gospels would deem such an assertion as grossly fallacious.

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion.
The one who states his case first seems right,
until the other comes and examines him.

Proverbs 18:2, 17