Summary: Jesus and the Old Testament Law - PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What do we mean by the Law?
What was the attitude of Jesus to the Law?
What should be my attitude to the Law?
• Silly UK Laws Quiz - True or False.
• PowerPoint slides available on request.
• TRANSITION: The passage I have been asked to speak about this morning;
• Is all about the Law.
• Obviously not U.K. silly laws;
• But the religious laws of the Jewish people.
(1). What do we mean by Law?
• The expression ‘The Law’ that we read in the gospels;
• Had up to four different meanings at the time of Jesus.
• To the religious leaders and the Jewish people;
• Would have understood ‘The Law’ in one of four different ways.
• (1). They used it to mean the Ten Commandments.
• (As listed in Exodus chapter 20)
• (2). They used it to mean the first five books of the Bible.
• (The Torah or the Pentateuch, which to the Jew is the most important part of the scriptures).
• (3). They used the phrase ‘The Law and the prophets’ to mean the whole of Scripture;
• (What we would call the Old Testament).
• (4). They used it to mean the Oral or the Scribal Law,
• In the time of Jesus it was the last meaning that caused the confusion,
• Because among the religious leaders this was their preference!
• The Oral or the Scribal Law was introduced;
• To protect God’s Law and to stop people breaking it;
• e.g. You older folk will remember;
• When we had open coal fires and they had a fire guard in front of them.
• The idea was children might touch the fireguard by accident or ignorance;
• But the guard prevented them from actually touching the fire itself.
• In the same way the religious leaders built a guard around the Law,
• They added their own rules and regulations to protect it.
• These rules were known as the Oral/Scribal law.
• The idea being people might break their rules;
• But those rules would guard them from actually breaking God’s Law.
The problem with the Oral/Scribal Law was:
• These started out as secondary to the Law of God;
• But overtime the scales tipped and they became not just equal;
• But often superseded the Law of God.
• e.g. To God’s one law, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy",
• The religious leaders added rule upon rule upon rule…
• The Mishnah (The Mishnah, the first written record of the Oral Law,)
• Listed 39 different categories of work that was forbidden on the Sabbath,
• e.g. They taught that you should not look in a mirror on the Sabbath;
• Because you might be tempted to pluck out a grey hair and that would be reaping.
• e.g. It was unlawful to wear any jewellery or ornaments on the Sabbath,
• Since this might be construed as carrying a burden.
• e.g. It was fine to spit on a rock on the Sabbath, but you could not spit on the ground,
• Because that made mud and mud was mortar, and that was work.
• And sadly the rules got sillier and pettier as time went on.
• e.g. You were allowed to eat radishes on the Sabbath,
• But you were warned against dipping them into salt;
• Because you might leave them in the salt too long and pickle them;
• And this was considered to be Sabbath-breaking.
• The Pharisees actually had discussions as to how long it took to pickle a radish.
• In summary:
• To the religious leaders, ‘The Law’ to them was the Oral or the Scribal Law;
• This they prioritised for themselves and for the people.
• But to Jesus ‘The Law’ was ‘The Law of Moses and the Prophets’ (our Old Testament);
• This was the Law he chose to follow, to obey and to teach.
In fact Jesus seemed to deliberately break their Oral/Scribal man made rules:
• Not once did Jesus ever broke any of the Laws of Moses.
• But he constantly, intentionally broke the Scribal, the Oral Law.
• Especially those man-made rules relating to the Sabbath.
• i.e. He would heal people on the Sabbath.
• (Mark chapter 3 verses 1-78)
• i.e. He told people to pick up their mats on the Sabbath – to carry a burden!
• (John chapter 5 verse 8)
• i.e. He spat on the ground and mixed mud & spittle and placed it on a blind men’s faces
• (John chapter 9 verse 6);
• According to their oral tradition this was considered work.
• i.e. He allowed his disciples (Matthew 12 verses 1–8);