Summary: People tell us that it's not about rules it's about a relationship, but doesn't that relationship come with expectations?
What Jesus Said about our Behaviour Intro
If you have been keeping track this is the fourth series that we have taught this year based on “What Jesus said about. . .” In April we spoke about “What Jesus said About Money” and we focused on Jesus’ words concerning how we make and how we spend our money. In May and June we focused on “What Jesus said About Emotions” and we looked at his words concerning fear, love, hate and Joy. Through the summer we parked ourselves in the book of John and looked at the various metaphors that Jesus used for himself. I am the Way, I am the Gate, I am the Resurrection, etc.
For the next few weeks we are going to look at “What Jesus Said about Our Behaviour”. And too often I hear Christians express scorn for rules and regulations, they talk about how it is all about a relationship and how they are under grace not under the law. It’s almost as if they think it was Jesus who said “Love God and do as you please.” It wasn’t Jesus who said that it was Augustine who may have been many things but he was neither Jesus or infallible.
And so we have people who call themselves Christ Followers who have no real sense of the Christ they claim to follow. If they think of his commands at all they hear him say “Love each other” “Do not judge” and “Do unto others”. And while those are indeed things that Jesus commanded us to do they are not the sum total of what he commanded us to do. There was a certain level of expectations to Jesus’ teaching. That is he expected certain things and certain behaviour from those who chose to follow him.
Apparently 2000 years ago it was expected that following Jesus would have an impact on how you behaved and what you did and on what you didn’t do. And Jesus took this quite seriously and warned his disciples that they should take it seriously as well, listen to his words in Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.”
Wow, that’s harsh. “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.” Somehow that doesn’t seem to line up with the Jesus that is preached so often these days. The Jesus who loves everybody unconditially as long as they are sincere and try their best. It doesn’t sound like the Jesus who understands that it’s really tough behaving the way the Bible would direct so with a nod and smile he will sneak you in under the wire.
But is that the reality? This “But at least you tried” Jesus? The Bible doesn’t seem to indicate that is. Instead the Jesus of the Bible teaches that there are rules that must be followed, things that need to be done and things that shouldn’t be done. If we go back to the scripture that we started with we discover a man comes to Jesus and enquires about what he has to do to live forever. That is a good question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” But the man isn’t looking for a life change he is looking for a magic bullet, some “one thing” that he can do to assure himself a place in heaven. Listen again to his question. Matthew 19:16 Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” Not “How should I live?” but “What good deed, what one thing, must I do to have eternal life?. Tell me what to do and I will do and then I can get on with life.”
And to hear some people’s theology today that magic bullet is “Just accept Jesus as Lord, pray the prayer and then get on with life.” But that isn’t what Jesus said, what Jesus said was Matthew 19:17 “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.” Keep the commandments? That doesn’t sound like Jesus, commandments? What about grace and not being under the law? What are the commandments that Jesus is talking about?
Let’s go back to Matthew 5:17 where Jesus said “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the Law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.”
Well in order to understand what Jesus was saying it would help if we knew what Jesus was saying. So what was the “Law of Moses” that Jesus spoke of? Well, the law could refer to a number of things 1) The Ten Commandments 2) The first five books of the Old Testament, which is often referred to as the Pentateuch or five scrolls. 3) The Law and the Prophets, or what we now call the Old Testament. And this is what Jesus said would not pass away, the Law and the writings of the prophets.