Understanding what to take and what to leave from the Jewish Law
The New Testament gives us a clear picture of Jesus replacing the Old Testament Law as our path to life. As Christians we all agree with this, and yet so many of us still follow parts of that old Jewish Law. Why? Are certain aspects of it supposed to be carried over? Are we required to keep the Sabbath or tithe? What about “honor your father and mother”? Shouldn’t we always do that? With these particular questions on the table, we might conclude that Jesus didn’t really override the Law but instead just made some major adjustments. Can that be true? Fortunately the New Testament makes this all clear. It all comes down to what Jesus did and did not do...and the answer is powerful!
Christianity is obviously founded upon the sacrifice of Jesus. The opportunity to follow him was given to both Jews and Gentiles. Because Jesus was obviously Jewish himself, the question of what to do with the requirements and sacrifices of that Old Testament Law has been discussed and disagreed on for centuries. The Jewish Law had been the centerpiece for communion with God for many centuries before Jesus came. Letting go of it was an epic challenge for many Jewish Christians.
The New Testament book of Hebrews emphatically tells us the blood of bulls and goats offered as Old Testament sacrifices could not take away sin. Those offerings provided a temporary bridge to harmony with God, and as such, needed yearly renewal. Jesus was THE sacrifice necessary for the sins of the world. That sacrifice was done once, and it was done for all. This one scriptural point clearly tells us that Jesus actually replaced the need for those temporary things. Does this provide absolute proof Jesus lifted the requirements of the Law from the shoulders of Christians? Sort of!
Jesus’ offering of himself did emphatically cancel the need for continual sacrifices required by the Jewish Law. This change helps us understand the removal of the rituals of the old Law. Interestingly, some Christians do still hold onto some of those old rituals such as tithing and physical abundance. This is actually counter-productive to the whole idea of following in Jesus' footsteps. Seeing it all in context and in the words of the Apostle Paul will make this plain.
What about the moral aspects of the Law? Did Jesus take those away as well? Check out our July 29, 2019 podcast, “Does the Old Testament Law Apply to Me?” to find out. We look at how Jesus handled several aspects of moral living, quoted directly from the Law. We examine several Scriptures that inform us on the differences between the works of the Law and a life of faith. We also pinpoint why the Law came to humanity and how it actually dovetails with the purpose of Christianity. Though these teachings may seem basic to some and irrelevant to others, they provide a sturdy foundation for the building of Christianity. That is a lesson we all need!
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