Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Jesus was the new covenant of love, ending the old covenant of judgement on earth

Matthew 5:17 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. 18 For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 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."

The teachings of Christ often conflicted with the strict law of the Pharisees of the Old Testament. Here Christ was saying that the old ways will not pass away until "Everything is accomplished" or "All is finished". Many have said this means that Jesus continued to judge many by their life style (ie anti-homosexual) after his death and resurrection. However, a more enlightened reading tells us he was saying that the old ways will die with him. In John 19:30: Jesus on the cross said, "It is finished", just before he died. This would appear to coincide with his previous statement, "not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished". In other words with his death, "all was accomplished" so the old covenant of strict rules (that no one could ever follow in total; demonstrating the foolishness of man thinking they could earn their way to heaven) and animal sacrifices, dies and a new covenant centered around grace (god giving his unearned love to humanity), the love of God and showing love and kindness to your fellow man, free from judgements, was born. In this way heaven and earth pass away, as they existed before, and a new earth and heaven was born with the new covenant.

Mark 12:28 "One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.”

The message of Matthew 5:19 is Jesus is reinterpreting the "commands" and his disgust with "the Pharisees and the teachers of the law." Matthew 23:13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them.15Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves......31 Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets.32 Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors. 33 You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to hell?

There is also debate on what Jesus meant by the commands, whether he was talking about Mosaic law in general or specifically the 10 Commandments.

Given Jesus’ repeated contrasts between his teaching and that of the law and of the teachers of the law, given Jesus’ call to his followers to embody a greater righteousness than that of the teachers of the law, it is necessary for Jesus to remind his followers that the law pointed forward to his greater righteousness all along. Neither the law nor the prophets were ever ends in themselves. Jesus is saying that if you really want to follow the Law and the Prophets, you need to follow him. In fact, later in Matthew’s gospel he will portray representatives of the law and the prophets (Moses and Elijah) meeting with Jesus in the Transfiguration, and what does the voice of the Father in heaven say? “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Matthew 17:5). It’s arguably the central theme of Matthew’s gospel.

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