19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus is challenging a common occurrence in both Judaism, and later in Christianity, which was teaching that the Law is not important anymore. In fact, this tendency is still very much practiced today. The problem with those who say Jesus came to abolish the Law, can quickly lead to what we call “antinomianism”. A big word meaning, ‘against the Law”. This is a mindset that says, “Since the Law doesn’t apply anymore, I can do whatever I want.”
Paul will later confront this kind of teaching in the 1st century church. Today we call it, “cheap grace”. Meaning we might conclude, “Since my sin means more forgiveness and grace, the more I sin, the more grace can abound.” Paul calls this out in the book of Roman and concludes, “May it never be!” He likens it to crucifying Jesus all over again. Jesus wants to makes sure this doesn’t happen. The Pharisees were “talking the talk, but not walking the walk.” Jesus will address more of what this means in verses 21-48.
Jesus, we realize your commands are holy. As we have been called and justified by grace, may we obey your teaching not to gain your approval, but because we have it! Amen.