Jesus and Moses

30 Oct
from Google Images

from Google Images

In Luke 5:33-39 Luke records Jesus making four pairs of contrasts: fasting and feasting, an old garment and new cloth, old wineskins and new wine, and old and new wine. All have to do with religious practice and how Jesus disciples relate to God, versus how this was done under the Old Covenant. Some contrast the Church and Judaism, but this isn’t enough. The heart of the matter is not simply Jewish tradition. Rather, the problem is with the Mosaic Law. Moses and Jesus are at odds in this respect, namely, that law and grace simply have no common ground. One cannot cry out for justice and forgive at the same time. Nevertheless, Jesus did not come to destroy the Law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17)—i.e. to complete it, furnish what it lacked and pay its demands.

Fasting, whether practiced or not, could never be an appropriate indicator of our love for God (Luke 5:33-35), because the Kingdom of God is not food and drink (Romans 14:17; cf. Matthew 11:18-19). Therefore, if one eats he eats and blesses God; and if he fasts, he does so to honor God (Romans 14:6). Jesus didn’t come to patch up the Law (cf. Luke 5:36) or try to cause it to do what it couldn’t. It was never meant to save anyone. The Law could only condemn and cry out for justice. Jesus came in order to balance the Law’s account, i.e. to offer himself as the redemption price to its demands, so we could be set free of the Law’s claim on our sin-filled lives. Jesus didn’t come to fill up the Law in the sense that it was a bottle that should contain him (cf. Luke 5:37). Nothing, not even the universe is able contain God in all his glory (1Kings 8:27), how much less could two tablets of stone contain him? Rather, the Law is preserved as it is in that God is contained not in stone but in Christ (cf. John 3:34; Hebrews 1:3), and by implication, his Spirit dwells in measure within our human hearts, which flex to embrace him, but stone (the Law) cannot embrace the image of God (cf. Genesis 1:27; Ephesians 2:21; 3:17). Luke concludes with:

(Luke 5:39 KJV)  No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.

I believe the context shows the KJV is wrong to use the word better. Rather the Greek word chrestos (G5543) should be translated good, as in the NASB and RV. The point is that no one having lived by the Law immediately desires Christ, because he believes the Law is good (enough). That is, everyone who embraces the Law as his worldview will not even try the new worldview under Christ. This is exactly what the Jewish leaders were doing. They didn’t conclude that their way of life was **better** than what Jesus was offering. Rather, they believed that the status quo was good (enough), so why change?

One of the most difficult things for me to see was the fact that I could not please God through my works or my plans. What really matters is, what he does in and through me. God is not interested in patching up my old life in Adam. Rather, he gives me new life in himself. It is not a matter of the company I keep (Luke 5:30-32) or even how religious I can be (Luke 5:33-34). Life in Adam can never agree with life in Christ. Whether worldly or religious, Jesus is not at all interested in a patched up life (Luke 5:36). He makes all things new! Neither is it possible for grace to be reconciled with Law. Grace cannot be merciful when the Law cries out for justice. If I still owe a debt to the Law, then there is no grace; but, if I am truly free, I cannot be bound by anything. Let grace be grace (Romans 11:6; cf. Luke 5:37-39). The fruit of the life of Christ justifies Christ’s unorthodox behavior (Luke 7:35). Although we are not under the Law (Romans 6:14), a life lived in Christ, bearing his fruit (John 15:4-5), is a life that Law cannot condemn.

The law of the life of Christ is like the law of aerodynamics compared with the law of gravity. As long as I am obeying the law of aerodynamics (viz. abiding in Christ), I cannot fall. If I am obedient to the laws of aerodynamics, I am able to fly. The law of aerodynamics is not against the law of gravity, and it will keep me from falling. The law of gravity would certainly require my life, if I stopped obeying the law of aerodynamics. In the same way abiding in Christ is above the Law of Moses. There is no law against the fruit of the Spirit, which is the life in Christ, (Galatians 5:22-23). As long as I abide in Christ, I am unable to break the Law of Moses. Jesus is my life, and he won’t let me fall. He makes all things new!

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Posted by on October 30, 2016 in Gospel of Luke


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