Thursday, January 16, 2014

January 16, 2014 – Matthew 12 – The Heart of the Law

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.

What Does this Passage Say?
  • So far Jesus has been pretty mild in his dealings with the Pharisees. He has had a few run-ins with them, but nothing that has truly got their blood boiling. That is about to change. For a while they have been questioning Jesus and getting a little agitated. Now they find Him and His disciples breaking the Mosaic Law; by plucking grain off the plant.
    • The Pharisees have taken the Law and imposed it upon the nation of Israel in a way God never intended. They have written thousands of rules and explanations to the Law that made it almost impossible to keep. They blame the disciples for harvesting grain. Harvesting grain is not easy work. It requires plucking grain and then the threshing of the grain. To harvest a field would require a lot of manual labor, labor that was forbidden in the Law. But what the disciples are doing is not mass harvesting, they are plucking grain, rubbing it in their hands and then eating. This hardly constitutes work.
    • The problem here is not the written Law of Moses; it is the oral law and traditions of the Pharisees. They have exasperated the Law. Here Jesus corrects them. He connects what they are doing to what David and his men did when eating the consecrated bread used for the offerings to God. By connecting Himself with David Jesus is making a bold claim.
  • This scene is followed by Mathew writing about the Pharisees trying to trap Jesus. Jesus responds to their questions with logic. If there was a great need they too would break the law to keep that need alive: i.e. a sheep in a well. Jesus reminds them that they have missed the heart of the law in their oral traditions. Knowing they were outsmarted Jesus is permitted to heal the man’s hand. While they may have back away and permitted Jesus without any further intrusion, their hearts are really begin to burn against Jesus, now plotting to kill Him.
  • These Pharisees are not going to relent. They are looking for opportunities to entrap Jesus. They watch Him cast out a demon and claim that He must be a tool of Satan. Jesus throws there logic in front of them. It makes no sense. Why would Satan battle against himself? Families feuding, nations at war with themselves, churches with disruption will never remain united! No Jesus is not from Satan, He is greater than Satan, He has the power to hold him up and plunder him. Again this is a bold claim for Jesus to make.
  • The attacks of Jesus have only begun. No matter what Jesus does, the Pharisees are going to associate with Him bad fruit, even though the evidence suggests other wise. Jesus knows this. He knows why He came. He knows this will all end in His death. He reminds them that He is God, that He is bigger than Nineveh, that He is far more powerful than the Queen of Sheba. He is greater than all these because He is God. His fruit will eventually win out, after three days and three nights in the belly of the earth as Jonah was in the belly of the fish. And then, all those who belong to God, and serve God, and live for God, will be heirs alongside Jesus with the eternal blessing of life in the presence of God.
 What is this passage teaching?
  • The Law of Moses existed to teach and lead Israel as to what God defined as sin. If a person could keep the entirety of the Law they were 100% righteous, with no need for salvation. However, that is not possible. As fallible humans we have no shot at keeping the Law. There are moments in our life were anger slips in even when we do not want it to. There are moments in our life where we lust even when we try our best not to. There are moments in our life were we doubt, struggle, and try to do life on our own. We cannot keep the Law. But the Pharisees thought they could. They created their own Law, their own oral traditions that paved a way for the people of Israel. It became even harder for people living in Jesus day to keep the Law. In doing so Israel has lost the heart of the Law. They are trying to earn salvation on their own merit. Even for them looking forward to the cross they were not saved by their works, but by Jesus work. Matthew spends this entire chapter illustrating the missing of the heart of the Law. The heart of the Law is summed up in Jesus quote … “I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.” (Matthew 12:7b NLT).

 How can I apply this passage to my life?

  • So where do you stand on keeping the Law? Are you focused on the strict observance of faith, or do you live understanding grace, understanding the heart of the Law. The Law still has importance for us today … it still shows and teaches us what God defines as sin. But we are not saved by keeping the Law. We are saved by the work of Jesus, the blood and life shed by Jesus. Jesus paid our ransom. Now that does not give us freedom to do whatever we want … by no means. Being saved by grace should make us appreciative of Jesus and what He has done for us. It should force us to live lives that honor Him in all aspects. So how are you doing at keeping the Law? Are you living it out of religious obligation, living as a Pharisee, or are you living it out of gratitude for the salvation you have?
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