Jesus, Legalism and Liberalism, part 2
Matthew 5:19 includes a key for understanding Jesus’ upcoming conversation about six different Old Testament commandments as interpreted by the scribes and Pharisees.
- A commandment about murder. 21-26
- A commandment about adultery. Vs. 27-30
- A commandment about divorce. 31-32
- A commandment about taking oaths. 33-37
- A commandment about retaliation. 38-42
- A commandment about loving one’s neighbor and hating enemies. 43-48
Jesus is, in essence, rebuking the scribes and Pharisees’ (Vs. 20) treatment of the Law given to Moses by God (He that hath seen me hath seen the Father) Himself.
In all six of Jesus’ examples we see a very powerful statement:
- You have heard it said….
- But I say unto you…
- 21-22; 27-28; 31-32; 33-34; 38-39; 43-44
The “You have heard it said” statements require the hearer to consider, “From whom have we heard it said?”
- Who said, “Thou shalt not murder?” God.
- Who said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemies?” Don’t know.
The “But I say unto you” statements are exceedingly powerful and corrective.
- Jesus, who John reveals as the “Word became flesh,” lets everyone know, “I am the God who gave the word (commandments) in the first place and I am the God who properly interprets the word (commandments) now.
- Jesus points out that “what you have heard said” has hundreds of years and layers of human interpretation that totally miss the spirit and intent of the word (commandment) given by God.
Since “you have heard it said” came without the spirit and intent of the Giver, Jesus reveals the spirit and intent with which He gave the word to Moses and then further explains some of the ways in which duty and obedience to God’s word was being “loosened, released, dissolved, broken, and relaxed.”
“Jesus, legalism and liberalism: An illustration with three lines.”
Thou shalt not murder, as relaxed by the scribes and Pharisees, meant:
- You can be angry (unrighteous anger) with your brother
- You can insult your brother
- You can call your brother an idiot/fool
AND STILL CONSIDER YOURSELF A COMMANDMENT KEEPER!
Jesus strongly corrects this relaxation of the commandment and tightens it’s meaning to His original intent.
- Angry with your brother? You are liable to judgement.
- Insult your brother? You are liable to the council.
- Call your brother a fool? You are liable to the hell of fire.
Thou shalt not commit adultery, as relaxed by the scribes and Pharisees, meant:
- You can lust after your sister…
AND STILL CONSIDER YOURSELF A COMMANDMENT KEEPER!
Jesus strongly corrects this relaxation of the commandment and tightens its meaning to His original intent.
- Lust (sinful desires) is adultery.
- Heart adultery and physical adultery are so repugnant to God that one should do anything necessary to eliminate it.
- Heart adultery and physical adultery are deserving of a sentence to hell.
Not murdering is a measure of keeping the sixth commandment. Not committing adultery is a measure of keeping the seventh commandment.
Jesus, however, requires a deeper obedience.
Our Lord intertwines this deeper obedience with love. John 15:1-11
- I can’t bear the fruit of deeper obedience, but the Holy Spirit can. 4, 5
- This deeper, fruit bearing obedience glorifies God and proves that I am Jesus’ disciple. 8
- As God loves Jesus, Jesus loves me. I am to abide in His love. 9
- In keeping Jesus’ commandments, I abide in His love. 10
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
The Greatest Commandment has always been (and always will be), “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul and with all thy might.” Deuteronomy 6:4
This kind of love moves me into a deeper obedience of the spirit and intent of God, the loving and gracious Law-giver.
In what ways do I relax the words of Jesus who is inviting me into the joy of deeper obedience and love?