It is a dangerous doctrine to assume Jesus was usually ministering a message directed at future believers who would be under the New Covenant. Jesus came to proclaim a message for Israelites first, not to those of us who were born as (non-Jewish) Gentiles. He was born under the law to redeem those who were under the law. Righteousness was never meant to be attained by the commandments, but to be received freely as an heir. On this week's podcast, we look at a few more instances of Jesus ministering to these people who were under the first covenant.
In part 10 of our series, we take a look at something Jesus stated about forgiveness. He said people should pray they will be forgiven as they forgive others. After the prayer, Jesus said they would be forgiven for sins based upon the condition that they forgive others for their sins. This was not good news to the Jews who were listening because it was based upon their ability instead of the gift of righteousness that would come through Christ. Jesus went on to tell them about something they were ignorant about — God's righteousness. They should begin to seek this instead of trying to establish their own righteousness through the works of the law. As believers, we no longer seek this gift because we have already become His righteousness.
Jesus showed His disciples what the bottom line required when it came to trying to acquire righteousness through their works: It would demand that they be perfect. With this standard being taught, we can begin to see why many stopped following Jesus. They weren't rejecting a Christian message, but they came to realize their inability to meet the standard of perfection the law required in those commandments. Jesus did not always minister the good news gospel to His Jewish audience, but there was a purpose as to why He did this.
As Jesus continues ministering the law to His Jewish disciples during the Sermon on the Mount, we find some peculiar statements that seemed to make keeping the law something that was impossible. People often wonder just exactly what Jesus meant by cutting off body parts in order to avoid sin. It's not rocket science. Jesus meant what he said as He ministered the Old Covenant law in order to help them realize the hopeless position they were under at that time.
During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus had a purpose of revealing to His disciples what the law truly required in order to attain righteousness. He was ultimately teaching that it would be futile for them to maintain the standard it demanded in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. Religion will try to make this out to be a new Christian teaching that Jesus was laying before His Jewish audience, but what He was actually laying down was the law. Jesus would begin to show they needed to find a different way other than through the works of that law.
During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was having an Old Covenant conversation with Israelites. They had been considered the salt of the earth. Those under that first covenant understood the connection between salt and the covenant, also known as the covenant of salt. In that former covenant, God found fault with the salt (the people) and salt with no flavor is good for nothing except to be thrown out. If this doesn't sound like good news, it's because it is not the gospel. By God's grace, it would be the covenant that would be tossed out instead of the people. Jesus went on to talk about the law needing to be fulfilled. He would accomplish this in us through His finished work, but first He is getting ready to show his Jewish audience how hopeless their situation was in their current state under that law.
When ministers teach a combination of the law that came through Moses and blend it with the gospel of Jesus Christ as a Christian application, it will leave people confused and often condemned. Teaching those old commandments as a way of life does not reduce sin but leads to an increase in sin. Israel was trapped in a system that could not bring life or righteousness. They needed to be shown their inability to abide by the law and be redirected to something better. Jesus is about to teach the law in a way they had never heard it before during the Sermon on the Mount. He begins with something known as the Beatitudes. These were not given to get people to try harder. These are blessings that would eventually be fulfilled by Jesus.
Part 4 in the series lays more foundation about the law and the Old Covenant and the many differences between the New Covenant which began after the death of Jesus. Most Christian teachings have assumed the commandments were meant to decrease sin, but we find just the opposite is true. It was designed to bring hopelessness and despair. Since fault was found with the people for not fulfilling their end of the agreement, God's grace and mercy would allow for the covenant to end, instead of punishing them for their sins.
This is the third in a series of why Jesus taught two covenants, this week looking at some specifics within the Mosaic law from the first covenant. That was a covenant made with Israel and those of us who are Gentiles were not included. Ultimately the law brought a curse because it required all of it be kept perfectly. The New Covenant would not be anything like the Old. The first covenant resulted in death and condemnation, whereas under the second covenant, we've been removed from that and placed into life. The law was meant to shut mouths, stop boasting, and bring people to the end of themselves.
Our second in the series of why Jesus taught two covenants lays a further foundation on why Adam fell and how the covenant began through Moses with the Jewish people. A covenant must be agreed upon by at least two parties, so the law within the first covenant was not forced upon Israel, but they agreed to do all of it as required. They declared with pride it would be righteousness for them. They would have been better off humbling themselves by saying they couldn't do it. They chose to trust in themselves and their ability.