Nowhere in the Bible can you find more of what God has to say regarding the covenants and laws of the OT, and how Jesus Christ changed it all forever. In the first 4 books of the NT, Jesus himself is quoted time and again as He made his way through villages and cities, not only to teach and heal, but just as importantly to make us understand once and for all time that Judaic Law while inspired in principle was never meant to be applied without compassion and fair-mindedness. This is a revelation of sorts to all those literalists amongst the Pharisee's and Sadducee's at a later date. There entire Raison d'être was to apply every letter of the laws with out wisdom or understanding, only blind obedience. With the ultimate goal of becoming our sacrificial lamb that ushered in the FINAL COVENANT with our Lord God, Jesus made certain that in these Gospels that he provided many instances of correcting the historic misconception of legalism. Prior to Jesus there were Covenant's made with Noah and Moses respectively by God the Father, that set the law and its enforcement in place. Aside from that, God specifically agreed to never again wipe out the human race because of sin and disobedience, JESUS changed it all forever!
The main reason that we will be immersed in this study at this time has to do with being challenged about my personal belief that salvation or redemption has only one thing to do with Baptism. The only tie between them is that they happen consecutively, meaning you are redeemed first, and then you can choose to be baptized as an outward sign to all, that you have been changed internally forever. While preparing my scriptural basis for not being required to be baptized, God blessed with some new insight to the words of Jesus himself, so that will take precedent for now, but promise to get back to Baptism at a later date.
Megabytes from God began exactly one year ago today. Since the inception, what to read and what to publish was always on my mind. What started at the urging of my daughter, and of course, my Lord, has now come full circle. I remain as uncertain about the 48th post, as I was about the 2nd post. Today marks the beginning of work on the 47th posting in 12 months. Most would not be able to appreciated the significance of God's achievement through this broken vessel unless you walked some of the last 40 years in my shoes. In the last year I have filled you in on snippets of my dark side experiences. Save the amazing grace (pun intended) of my Heavenly Father, my Lord Jesus and my Holy Spirit, none of this would have been published. If He can do this with me, how much more could He do with your talent laser focused on spreading his Word? Whether you like what is written or not is not important. I only ask that you read it, and then I back out of the equation and let God work his miracle in your soul. Yes, I have favorable and not so favorable responses, but there is no such thing as a bad response. The fact that we are closing in on 5,000 readers around the globe is testimony how our God can use, even you. Some think my talent is talking, IE., I have a big mouth, but the truth is that the written word, soon to be a lost art in most societies, is my gift. With the help of God Almighty, I will do my best to keep this blog about him, not me. With my ego that is a daunting task.
The Book of Matthew and the Four Gospels together tell us details about the birth, life, death and resurrection of the Christ Child. Just as importantly we get to hear the ACTUAL words of this man who was God incarnate. We have recorded history of His movements, His miracles, and His majesty. Indeed these are words to live by in the period of the New Covenant. This is a new time in which the Judaic laws of the Torah get combined with the love and compassion of the Son of God himself. This transmutation is Alchemy 101 at the highest level. By itself, Judaism is a beautiful religion with centuries of the proper fear and respect for Jehovah. Comparatively Christianity is just a young upstart with nowhere near the strength and tradition of the Hebrew nation; and after all, they were quite literally the chosen people of our Heavenly Father. After centuries of strife and discord each religion has been broken into many pieces, each claiming to be the only way to eventually see God in Heaven. Understanding that Jesus is the GOLD and all the generations of mankind, despite their scholarly erudition is the LEAD in this transmutation. Every religion, every church, every dogma or system of religious law, anywhere on this globe is superseded by the the life and death of Jesus Christ. The fear (respect) of this triune God is truly "the beginning of wisdom."
Which Matthew wrote this book and when are in great dispute amongst the intellectuals. I am satisfied if he was any of them, including the tax collector. Chapter 1 is a complete listing of the lineage of Jesus back to Abraham with whom the First Covenant was created by our Lord. From there we move to Chapter 4 where the famous story of Jesus meeting the devil himself, after fasting for 40 days and nights. Satan immediately attacked His apparent weak spot, hunger...Can you imagine not eating for 4 days, much less 40? Despite His condition, when Satan asked him to turn the rocks into bread, so He could eat, Jesus gave us those great words, "man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." After 3 different attempts to lure Jesus into sin, he gave up and left Jesus alone. How He reacted to each temptation is a lesson for another day, but what he says to Satan is simple, but brilliant.
After miracle upon miracle in these early chapters, we get to a very important passage. Matthew 12 begins with Jesus deals with the Pharisee's about the Sabbath. Since Jesus was already quite famous, they wanted to catch him some how or some way to prove that he was not the "Son of Man," prophesied by Isaiah. Their first opportunity came as the Disciples were walking through a wheat field on the Sabbath. Some of them picked some wheat and ate it as they passed through following Jesus. The Pharisee's accused them of breaking the law of the Sabbath, ostensibly for doing something like work to obtain the wheat to eat. Those Jews were jubilant, because they thought that they found a hole in the message of our Lord while living among us. Matthew 12:3 is where our Lord sets the Jewish leaders straight concerning the new fact that the laws of the Old Covenant no longer completely apply with the advent of the Son of God in human form. Jesus never steps on the Law of Moses, but he makes it clear that the Son of Man has begun to change the equation of right and wrong. He uses scripture from the OT to prove that the priests of old desecrated the Sabbath by eating the consecrated shew bread, when it was strictly forbidden. He then says that He is now changing some of the interpretation of the law, and as for the Sabbath, that He is now the "Lord of the Sabbath."
This chapter in Matthew teaches us that their is now some flexibility in the rigid "law" of the Hebrew nation, and this throws the devout, but hypocritical Pharisee's such a curve ball, that they be to first connive about killing Jesus. Truly the New Covenant with Jesus Christ allows for new interpretation for more items than just the Sabbath. They push Jesus further about healing on the Sabbath, all in an effort to trap our Lord with their binding, legalistic approach to the interpretation of the Torah. Jesus uses simple logic to dispel the notion that anything He or the Disciples did on the Sabbath was sinful. Fellow saints, this is massively important to understanding how this applies to our lives right here, right now!
My interpretation here is that hard line dogma and life lived with rigid legality is not what Jesus had in mind. Jesus makes it clear that previous unchangeable law has to be tempered with the love of Jesus, and in some cases be re-interpreted by Him to redeem a world of sinners that not only dates back a minimum of 6,000 years and spans 3 different Covenants with mankind.
As you read the first half of this amazing book, make sure you have a red-letter edition, so that you know exactly when Jesus is speaking. Then read those portions two or three times, until the words of our Saviour begin to sink in for good. There is no finer wine or better way to spend your time each day, than to carve out 10 minutes to dwell on what Jesus actually says. Therein lies the recipe for all of our lives in the time frame of the current Covenant.