It’s reasonably undoubted that Jesus had great knowledge of the scriptures. Yet, according to John, there are many things that Jesus did that weren’t recorded (John 21:25). Having such knowledge, Jesus didn’t write or commission a commentary to outright describe every passage of the Old Testament. Some books he didn’t even quote or seem to allude to at all.
When considering these, perhaps the Gospels are to, hopefully in as straightforward a manner as possible, drive to the heart of what mattered in life.
We see Jesus embraced those who were the most despised by the religious elite of his day—tax collectors, prostitutes, adulterers, and the “unclean.” He didn’t hold them up as the example of what not to be. Instead he stated that they were entering the Kingdom before the religious (Matt 21:31). Note here that he didn’t say the religious wouldn’t enter the Kingdom, he stated that they would enter last (Matt 19:30).
In addition, Jesus, as much as this might offend our sensibilities, broke the Old Testament Laws. He touched the unclean (Matt 8:3) as forbidden in the Law (Lev 5:3), he broke the Sabbath (John 9:16), he didn’t allow adultery to be punished (John 8:1-11) as commanded by the Law spoken from Yahweh (Lev 20:10; Deut 22:22). All of these are listed out as ways to uphold the Law. So what was Jesus doing? How did he fulfill the Law if he was breaking it?
Jesus was living to the Spirit of the law, not the letter (2 Cor 3:6).
But what about the Pharisees? Jesus was quite pointed with them.
It seems Jesus was trying to pierce through the callous wall they had erected around their hearts. In effect, he had to be brutally honest to love them. Note how often we get this backwards today. We’re “loving” towards the religious that agree and conform to our views, yet “lovingly honest” towards those we consider outsiders, heretics, and sinners. We even quote scriptures about “itchy ears” to justify our tactics in condemning those non-conformist, but who’s really surrounding themselves with teachers who only tell them what they want to hear—messages of justified hatred? Jesus approached these groups in the opposite way than we seem to, and his ministry was successful whereas many today seem to be flailing wildly.
What can we learn by this major portion of Jesus’ ministry—his approach towards people? Was it by law that he approached the “sinners?” Or was it by love? Is Christianity today more concerned with law than love? Are we more concerned with being right than following the path Jesus laid out? Do we search the scriptures to find passages that affirm our views to bind people or to know Jesus’ heart more intimately to set others free? We can’t mandate love by law and scripture, as the standards are higher than any of us are able to achieve (Matt 5). However, if we love, we are always upholding the law as Jesus did.
Are we really being love? Is the evidence of Jesus’ love clear to others that see our lives? Or are they only seeing the evidence of a life lived by law?
P.S. Thank you to everyone who has stopped by lately. Your encouragement in love is greatly appreciated!