Saturday, May 29, 2021

The Law In Practice

Bobservations Column

By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In the last two weeks we learned that Jesus could not win-for-losing when it came to the opinion of the Pharisees. They accused John the Baptist of having a devil. They accused Jesus of gluttony and being a drinker (Matthew 11:18, 19).

So black and white was the Law to the Pharisees, that there was no room for any exceptions. Jesus was accused by them of being a Law Breaker, and therefore just another sinner among the masses. They were incensed by His appeal to the people of Judaism who followed Him religiously.

This week we look at Jesus and the Apostles as they stretch the Law to fit practical, daily life. The Law allowed for many things in daily life that were abhorrent to the leadership of the Temple. Work on the Sabbath was forbidden, period, as far as they were concerned. And indeed it was, except when common sense prevailed and life, limb, or livelihood was in jeopardy. It did no one any good to not heal, cure, or save on the Sabbath if a person’s well-being was at risk. Grace was woven throughout “The Law,” allowing for those things.

Yet the Pharisees accused Jesus of breaking the Law whenever He healed a sinner, The Jewish Holidays and Sabbaths all point to the coming Messiah: newness of life, daily sustenance, joy, and celebration of life. But because these all were such “solemn” occasions, the Religious Leaders took a dim view of actually enjoying them. The Law became a duty to perform to the letter of itself. It became a burden, and not a joy of the heart.

Even in tithing, the Jews were to tithe of their spices and seasonings for various preparations. There was no room for grace and mercy under the Law, until Jesus taught the people otherwise! Love, grace, mercy, faith in God, compassion and empathy were the core of His teachings. God is not insensitive to the needs of His people! He is not insensitive to your needs either; He loves all His people both Jew and Gentile, and provides for all things.

“For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings.”1 Samuel 15:22

Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 12:1-21 - "The Law In Practice"


Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath.

The Sabbath law was never intended to restrict deeds of necessity. Secondly, it was never meant to restrict service to God. And thirdly, it was never meant to restrict acts of mercy. The Sabbath was to bring rest, not hardship. The Sabbath was to reflect what the other nine commandments reflected: Love toward God and love toward your fellow man. And that’s what the Ten Commandments are all about. The first of the commandments talk about our love to God through loyalty, faithfulness, reverence, and holiness. The second group in the Ten Commandments talks about love toward our fellow man through respect and purity and unselfishness, truthfulness, and contentment.

Jesus honored the Sabbath, as did His disciples, insofar as God intended it to be honored. But the Pharisees had added so many things to the law that it became a heavy burden. In the Talmud, just in one section, there are 24 chapters listing all the Sabbath laws. One rabbi spent two and a half years trying to understand one of those chapters. Can you imagine?

Jesus did not comply with their heavy handed legalism, and the Pharisees begin to accuse Him. Jesus’ response is classic, "Have you not read in the law?"  The Pharisees who took great pride in the knowing the letter of the law get a lesson they did not expect, nor want to receive…instruction in the law, in the Old Testament scriptures.   He doesn't mince words, but gets to the heart of the matter.  Jesus connected the Sabbath with the heart of God - benevolence, mercy, kindness, goodness. That is the purpose of it all. Jesus came that we might enter into a relationship with God.

There are people today who are caught in systems of religion where they are trying, by their own works, to do what the Pharisees did. Laws upon laws and rules upon rules. All these man-made systems do is bury the heart of God under a pile of legislation, and He wants to give you a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light.

”Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

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