In the Old Testament, God spoke through the man Moses. Alone, he climbed up Mount Sinai where fire and thunder prevailed. Holiness and fear prevented Moses from looking directly at God. The Law was committed to stone tablets by the finger of God. Moses brought the Law to the people as their mediator.
In the New Testament, we find God speaking through another man Jesus. He is also on a mountain, but there is no fear, fire or thunder. Instead of people waiting downhill, they sit at Jesus’ feet and the finger of God is writing the Law on the hearts of Jesus’ listeners. God is approachable and present in the person of Jesus. The full embodiment of holiness is present in Jesus and people are attracted to this teacher.
Jesus does not roll His eyes at the archaic, stone tablets of God’s Law. Instead the Chief Cornerstone of God’s Kingdom speaks heart-to-heart with everyday people; Jew and Gentile alike.
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. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
We are not so different from the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. They were emphatic about obedience until they found a loophole that allowed for their selfishness and pride.
Jesus speaks correctively to our instinctive side-lining of God’s Law. We are called to a higher standard of righteousness than the nit-picking, minimizing religion of public appearances.