Tag Archives: golden rule

But I say unto you…

 

Epiphany 6A, 12 February 2017

Readings
Matthew 5.21–37

The Uniting Church acknowledges that the Church has received the books of the Old and New Testaments as unique prophetic and apostolic testimony, in which it hears the Word of God and by which its faith and obedience are nourished and regulated.
Basis of Union, para. 5

The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people. ― Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth

____________________

We’ve got unfinished business from last week, and it’s not about cooking with salt.

It is about last week’s reading though. We didn’t look at the whole thing.

After his words that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, Jesus said,

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil… (Matthew 5.17)

What does Jesus mean about not abolishing the law, but fulfilling it?

Some people concentrate on not abolishing the law. Let me tell you about someone I knew at school.

When I was at school, one of the lads in our class was a Seventh-Day Adventist.

Seventh-Day Adventists have a very strong witness of keeping the law as it is written in the Bible. Yet much as I may admire them, I respectfully disagree with them.

My schoolfriend and I had a lot of conversations about which day should we worship, Saturday or Sunday; and whether we should eat bacon. (Now, I’m a bacon fan! Don’t try to convert me to a religion that bans bacon. It won’t work.)

I can’t remember all the details anymore, but my friend would have looked at this verse and said that Jesus had not come to abolish the law; therefore, Christians should obey the Old Testament laws. To the letter.

That meant keeping the Sabbath. On Saturdays only. And no sneaky bacon sandwiches behind the bike sheds.

The Gospel of Matthew presents us with a Jesus who does not abandon the law. Yet Matthew also says Jesus has come to fulfil the law. More than that, he says

unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

What does that mean? How can our righteousness exceed that of people who spent their lives searching how to obey the law?

Was my school friend right? Do we need to follow the Old Testament law to the letter? Not only a life with no bacon, but let me add—no prawns either?

Today’s reading shows us how Jesus fulfils the law; it is by deepening its meaning, by drawing it down into our hearts. But first, let’s just stay with last week’s Gospel just for a moment.

What does Jesus say again?

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil…

The prophets are in there too. What does Jesus mean by mentioning ‘the prophets’?

In many instances, ‘the prophets’ took the law of Israel and deepened it. They interpreted the law for their day.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under church year, Epiphany Season, RCL, sermon

13th Sunday of Ordinary Time (27 June 2010)

For freedom Christ has set us free


Reading
Galatians 5.1, 13-25

We’re still on a journey through Paul’s letter to the Christians in Galatia.

Remember that people had come who were wanting the Galatian believers to obey the Jewish laws like eating only certain foods, being circumcised and keeping the Sabbath. The Apostle Paul would have absolutely none of it, because he had discovered that the law he had loved so much was responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, now his Lord and Saviour.

Now the centre of Paul’s life was Jesus and not the law.

Jesus had brought one new people into being, a people in which

there is no longer Jew or Greek,
there is no longer slave or free,
there is no longer male and female;
for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

This new people is the Christian Church. It’s the Body of Christ, it’s the fellowship of the baptised.

Paul’s concern in the later parts of this letter is what it means to be this one new people in Christ.

And in Galatians 5.1 he gets right into it:

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Why have we been set free? So we can be truly free! We have been set free from the ‘yoke of slavery’. This ‘yoke of slavery’ is not the ‘easy yoke’ that Jesus promises when he says:

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

This ‘yoke of slavery’ is obedience to law. It is living rule-bound lives. So does that mean we Christians are law-less? Can we disregard the law? Can we do what we like? We are free, after all! Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under church year, RCL, sermon