Friday, November 11, 2011

What Used To Be Hard, Jesus Made Impossible

"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. (Matthew 5:17 NIV)

When Jesus gave his sermon at the mount, it was a buffet of wisdom and topics. But when he got to the discussion about the law of the prophets (ot), it got super interesting. He began to bring everything up a thousand notches. He began introducing new applications and correcting mindsets that are age-old already. And he did it without abolishing the law. It means the old revelation still stands, but the people's application of it has been so limited so he is expanding our understanding of it.

Ot - do not murder
Nt - anyone who gets angry at a brother is guilty of murder in his heart

Ot - do not commit. Adultery (sexual relations with others while you are married or the other person is already married)
Nt - if you look lustfully at a woman you have already committed adultery in your heart.

Ot - "It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.'
Nt - anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5: 31, 32 NIV)

Ot - do not break your oath
Nt - do not swear an oath at all. Let your yes be yes and your no be no.

Eye for eye
Ot - eye for eye, tooth for tooth
Nt - move in the opposite spirit. If anyone wants your shirt, give him your cost as well. Slaps you on the cheek, give your other cheek. Let your kindness face their wrath.

Love your enemies
Ot - love your neighbor, hate your enemies
Nt - love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

Notice that Jesus didn't abolished the law but instead raised the standard of obedience to it from very hard to downright impossible. I mean, never be angry? Never look with lust? (I'm talking to the average men in the planet) Stay faithful in our divorce-permissive age? Keeping not just my promises but every "yes" I say? Face wrath with kindness?! Love my enemy and while i'm at it, pray for them?! Seriously?!?! Be honest, you have to admit, the odds just became impossible.

But maybe that's the whole point.
I discovered, that Jesus was indeed making a point here.
Two points actually.
1. That In the strictest sense, righteousness can only be achieved by fulfilling all the requirements of the law.
2. That the fulfillment of the law is humanly impossible.

But not for Jesus; for he is not just a mere man. He is God AND man. The second person of the god head. The Word who became flesh and made his dwelling among us. He alone had the ability to fulfill all the requirements of the law as a man and to live a sinless life. Therefore that is exactly what he did. He fulfilled the law, he lived a sinless life, he became the only one righteous among the living. And then, he did the unthinkable: He credited HIS righteousness to us (thereby accomplishing what we couldn't) by dying on the cross for us and taking our punishment for all the sins we committed. He exchanged His righteousness for our UNrighteousness.

Keeping the requirements of the law is impossible. If it were not, then Jesus didn't have to die on the cross. Therefore, let us not keep the law because we want to be righteous but instead, keep the law because we have already been made righteous by Jesus. We do it as a natural and grateful response of worship, not an obligation, duty or compulsion to repay.

What used to be very hard (keeping the law), Jesus made clear to be totally impossible so that none of us can play hero to ourselves. In our lives, there is room for only one hero - will it be Jesus or will it be you?

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