How do Jesus followers read the Old Testament?
This has been a lively debate, and source of misunderstanding, among Christians from the moment Jesus began his public ministry. Many of the Bible experts and religious hardliners of Jesus’ day thought Jesus undermined the part of the Bible we call the Old Testament (which is still the book of sacred writings for Jews). But many people in the 20th and 21st centuries think the Old Testament (OT) is a bit of a mess. We wonder about creation and evolution, Noah’s ark, and - most importantly - laws that seem so out of sync with current morality.
Jesus tells us how to make sense of the OT. The OT was his Bible and he told his disciples to cherish it, too. In Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus tells us three things that are vital for reading the OT:
Jesus fulfills the Old Testament - Jesus ties together some of the loose threads in the OT story, especially its predictions, promises, and path.
The Old Testament still guides Christians - The ceremonial and civil laws for ancient Israel were completed in Jesus but the moral laws remain valid today. As one scholar has said, “Jesus did not reject the Old Testament, but he did reject new interpretations that had diluted the Old Testament’s moral principles.”
Jesus elevates the old way - As we’ll see in coming weeks through the rest of Matthew 5, Jesus did not undermine OT laws but dug beneath them for their original goal. He found God’s heart in the law, which aimed at transformation of the human heart.
Here’s Sunday’s bottom line: the new way keeps the old way but not in the same way. In other words, the new way of Jesus keeps the OT way of living with God but not exactly in the same way as the past.
This Sunday - how do we handle anger? Surprise! Jesus has an opinion on this, too. Check out Matthew 5:21-26 before Sunday morning, invite a friend, and join us!
Quest Church: A Community of Grace meets for two worship services: 9am(traditional) and 10:30am (modern with concurrent Kids Quest worship)