Although much of Jesus' ministry was for those under the law of the first covenant, He also shared about some things to come when the New Covenant would begin after His death. Jesus spoke of how He would go away and the Holy Spirit would come to help us. So what are some of the things the Spirit helps us with? We take a look at just a few examples that will hopefully bring some peace and comfort to you.
As Jesus looked ahead to the New Covenant, He shared with His disciples that they would have the ability to bear the fruit that only God is able to produce. He said He would no longer call them servants, but friends. He also shared about the power to love through His new commands that would not be burdensome, unlike the law and commandments that came through the law found in the first covenant given to Israel. This is about abiding in Him. How do we do that? We talk about it on this week's program.
The assumption is often made that the teachings of Jesus were intended for us believers. But He clearly stated He was sent to minister only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. So the religious mindset within Christianity will conclude that after the cross, we were meant to abide by or adhere to all of the teachings of Jesus because they think we were invited into a Jewish covenant. The problem with this? People will pick and choose what they think should be applied, while ignoring other parts. Old Covenant law was never meant for us Gentiles and the Jews would also come to be redeemed from it. But when Jesus points towards the New Covenant, we find it leads to a place of ceasing from a works-based effort at attaining redemption and brings us to a place of rest and peace.
In recent programs during our series, we've looked at some of the seemingly harsh and heavy teachings Jesus ministered to the people of Israel. You may have noticed how Jesus would often seem rather hard and demanding while at other times He would minister with grace and compassion. Did He have a split personality? Was He contradicting Himself? Of course we know this is not the case, so what did it all mean? It has to do with which covenant was being communicated. When Jesus told people that His yoke was easy and His burden was light, He was opening the door for them to enter into the rest offered by a New Covenant that would soon be available to them.
Although Jesus often ministered despair and hopelessness by elevating the Mosaic law, there were times when He would provide samples of the approaching New Covenant. Even though the "New" would not be in effect until after His death, we see examples of the gospel being served, such as the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery. The purpose of the old commandments was to minister condemnation and death. This woman received a taste of unconditional love mixed with mercy and grace, while her accusers walked away speechless.
Many Christians will look at the teachings of Jesus as though He were speaking directly to believers of today, when much of the time He was speaking to Jews under the law. By looking through the lens of the Old Covenant, we can begin to see quite often where Jesus said some things that were never meant to be a life application for us in the New Covenant. In fact, we'll discover Jesus was attempting to show His Jewish followers how they simply could not live up to the requirements that it would take to truly be His disciple and inherit eternal life. One of these examples is when Jesus referred to them carrying their own cross. It has become a modern-day religious talking point, but it's clear Jesus never meant for us to carry our own cross when He said, "Whoever tries to save their life will lose it."
What inspired the story of The Good Samaritan? A lawyer was testing Jesus with a question about the law that came through Moses. The Scripture states he was trying to do what other Jews did under the law — they attempted to justify themselves. In order to truly justify himself, the lawyer was told to do according to what the law says. The problem with this? Nobody had ever done it before. While the world has encouraged us to be the good Samaritan, Jesus is actually the one represented by this person in the parable.
This week we provide a perspective on the story of The Rich Young Ruler. He asked Jesus what he needed to do to have eternal life. Interestingly, Jesus did not say what we Christians might have expected — He did not say, "believe in me." He answered the law-based question with a law-based answer by telling the young man to obey the commandments from the Mosaic law. Why? Jesus was trying to show him the impossible standard of perfection the law demanded without any provision to be able to accomplish it. Have you ever walked out of church feeling worse than when you went in? It was probably for the same reason as the young ruler... The good news was missing.
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.