In a recent Vlog I posed the question, are you a rule breaker or a rule keeper? Since then I have given some more thought to this question. I recalled some of my thinking about Jesus and how He broke many rules, even the Law!
Can Jesus break the Law?
So, what happens when Jesus breaks the customary rules and even Moses’ Law?
And if Jesus breaks with custom, skates on thin ice with the Law and even breaks the Law, where does that leave us? What laws, rules and customs can we break?
Without me writing a thesis on these matters, let me give you quick reminder of where and how Jesus did this. Before I do so however, we need to make an effort to put 1st Centaury glasses on. Things that were taboo in Jesus’ day may seem trivial today. And to get the full weight of Jesus actions and often His words, we need to try get a feel of the social norms of His day. Each of the examples I am giving, had major consequences in Jesus’ day!
Here it comes…
Let’s get stuck in, starting with the more traditional things and working up to the capital offences…
- Tax Collectors; Matthew, one of Jesus’ 12 disciples was a tax collector. A Rabbi (Teacher of the Law) would never have someone Jews considered a traitor
- Immoral People; Jesus allows Mary Magdalene, an “immoral” woman to touch Him. “When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man was the prophet I thought he was, he would have known what kind of woman this is who is falling all over him.” (Luke 7:39)
- Jesus touches a leprous man. (Matt 8:2)
- In John 4 we have an extended account of Jesus passing through Samaria (Jews would not go through Samaria, especially Rabbis). He engages with a woman (read the text, she is surprised that a Jewish man is breaking with tradition and talking to a Samaritan woman!). This woman was married 5 times and not married to the man she is currently living with! That could even be hectic in today’s world.
- “Work of the Sabbath”; now we come to the real problem. On several occasions Jesus is confronted with the issue of the Sabbath. Check out Exodus 31:15, “You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day must be a Sabbath day of complete rest, a holy day dedicated to the LORD. Anyone who works on the Sabbath must be put to death.” Work on the Sabbath was a Capital Offence!! And if you are still wondering if Jesus broke the Law, check this verse out from Matt 12:4 “He went into the house of God, and he and his companions broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat.”
- “I am God!” – The final straw for the religious rulers of the day is when Jesus claimed to be God! (Matt 26:63-65, Jn 14: 9-11).
Jesus lawless or not?
Does that mean Jesus was “without Law” or accountability?
No! Jesus knew, lived and spoke about a law that not only fulfilled, but superseded the law of Moses and the customs of Jewish tradition. And the law Jesus lived by has several names. I like to call it “the law of grace”. Perhaps a better name for this law would be the “law of love”.
A new Law.
The apostle Paul gave it it’s theological name in his letter to the Romans, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom 8:2 KJV)Jesus turns religion upside down through love. He breaks the deadlock of our human self-effort to fulfil a “rule keeping system” by simply saying, “I love you, come as you are, and let’s do life together”.
How does this impact us?
Does this mean that we live lawlessly? Can we do what we like and it’s ok? What about cheap grace?
Good questions – check my Vlog for more answers……