As I’ve read and contemplated Matthew’s gospel, as well as the other corresponding gospels, one thing becomes more clear to me–we’ve reconstructed the same system Jesus ended and replaced.
Jesus was established as ruler of the Kingdom of God/Heaven upon his death and resurrection. This is a fairly easy concept for most to accept. However, we see there was still one major obstacle that stood in the way of people connecting directly to Jesus–the Temple. As stated previously, the chief priests and elders paid the guards who witnessed the resurrection to lie (Matthew 28:11-13). In the face of such testimonies (pagans stating the impossible resurrection was real), they still tried to hold on to their system; a system that wasn’t even performing its’ primary duty of sin cleansing anymore (Matthew 27:3-4). It wasn’t until Rome destroyed this system in 70AD that people could turn to Jesus less impeded. This worked for a little while, but eventually the system was rebuilt.
The chief priests and most of Israel were comfortable in their Temple and Sabbath rituals. Jesus appears to imply that both were no longer serving the purpose they were intended for (Matthew 12:6 and 8), if they ever fully did to begin with. Jesus often violated their laws about the Sabbath as if to say that they had made their own set of rules that weren’t what the original intent was. Likewise, Jesus also knew that when destruction came on the Temple, people would still be caught up attempting to live for and defend the Temple causing lots of needless death. Today, we vehemently defend our system politically and financially and state that we will die doing so. This causes us to be rigidly loyal to our system instead of to Jesus and alienates those who sin differently than we do. In the same way, Israel defined all “outsiders” as sinners worthy of destruction. Jesus turned these views on their head (Matthew 21:31; John 5:39-40; Matthew 8:11-12).
I’ve often seen people touting cliches about following the whole Bible and not picking and choosing. Yet, they ignore large parts of the gospel itself in favor of making rules that benefit the system. This is the same thing the chief priests did; they ignored the gospel Jesus was teaching because it undermined their system. We continue to make these same mistakes today by placing system funding above Jesus. However, we can’t serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).
I want to say that I’m not just trying to find scripture that correlates with my viewpoint. Rather, I’m trying to point to scripture that best conveys the overall theme of the Bible–Jesus. I could make such posts much longer but would rather get to the point and let the reader find the deeper answers from there. Also, I know that such topics are uncomfortable but truly believe that we need to get out of our comfort zone, myself included, to be the salt and light that Jesus intended us to be. Mostly, we don’t want to know such truth, but instead we want to be told that what we’ve always believed is right as not to have to change our hearts.