We completed the Old Testament today and entered the New. I must admit that the reading is much easier in the latter. And the New Testament is even further enriched after reading through the Old. When the book of Moses was read aloud under Nehemiah, they discovered many things that they had not known. Definitely, the same happens with us!
Of all the detestable, disgusting things the Israelites were accused of, the one that churns my insides the most is that of sacrificing their children to foreign gods and eating their own children in times of famine. The final words of Malachi that speak of the turning of the hearts of the fathers to their children and vice-versa would be no small feat!
Enter Jesus Christ, Son of Yahweh, born in human likeness. Talk about expectations–they had been building up for at least 2000 years. Has any other person in history ever had so much pressure to ‘perform’ and ‘deliver?’ He was the Desire of the nations. But for sure, He did NOT fulfill all that was expected of Him. In fact, he was a disappointment, an anathema to most of the Jews. On the other hand, He did more than anyone could ever have expected! He was not who they wanted, but much more than they ever could have wanted.
Jesus’ interactions with the Law, as seen in the book of Matthew, are so revealing.
- Jesus was very knowledgeable of the Law and Prophets; He quoted scripture when rebuking Satan. (Mt 4:4-10)
- Jesus declared, “I have not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfill them.” (Mt 5:13)
- After insisting that everything in the Law would be accomplished and no letter would be dropped from it, Jesus proceeded to either expand or adjust various commandments from the Law of Moses. Adultery is not only a physical act, but an act of the heart. Revenge (‘eye for eye’) is no longer valid; we must not repay evil with good! (Mt 5)
- Jesus implies that some aspects of the Law are more important than others. He told the Pharisees and teachers of the law that they should tithe, yes, but should not neglect the “more important” matters of the Law: justice, mercy and faithfulness. (Mt. 23:23)
- When challenged, Jesus crystallized “all the Law and Prophets” (Mt 23:34-40) into two commands: love God and love your neighbor.
The Jews tried to make Jesus what they wanted Him to be. They tried to fit Him into their expectations — their ‘boxes.’* What a mistake! Do we ever do the same, such as when we sing “Jesus is mine,” treating Him like an ATM, putting Him in our pocket, or viewing Him in the same category as a human lover? God help us!
* FOR MORE: See our friend Steve‘s re-post, “Ekklesia” from the Simple Church Journal.