Let me tell you what's going on here: No one in history surpasses John the Baptizer; but in the Kingdom he prepared you for, the lowliest person is ahead of him. Because, for a long time now, people have tried to force themselves into God's Kingdom.
But if you read the books of the Prophets and God's Law closely, you will see them culminate in John, teaming up with him in preparing the way for the Messiah of the Kingdom.
So, look at it in this way, John is the 'Elijah' you've all been expecting to arrive and introduce the Messiah. So, are you listening to me? Really listening? [says Jesus]
Therefore, how can I account for this generation? The people have been like spoiled children whining to their parents, 'We wanted to skip rope, and you were always too tired; we wanted to talk, but you were always too busy.' And yet, John came fasting and they called him crazy. Whereas, I came feasting and they called me a lush, a friend of the riff-raff. And so, opinion polls don't count for much, do they? Because, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
Yet, what I want you to look at with me is this phrase which says, '...for a long time now people have tried to force themselves into God's Kingdom. Or in other words,... the Kingdom of heaven has endured violent assault, and violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize - and a share in the heavenly Kingdom is sought with most ardent (which means, passionate, zealous, fervent, burning; hot; and glowing) zeal and intense exertion (or striving). ...and everyone is eager to get in.
But that doesn't mean that the law has lost its force [strength or power]. And yet, it is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest point of God's law to be overturned.
And so, John the Baptist's ministry was the dividing line between the Old and New Testaments.
Of which, with the arrival of Jesus came the realization of all the prophets' hopes. And then Jesus emphasized that his Kingdom fulfilled the law [the Old Testament]; it did not cancel it. For his was not a new system, but the culmination of the old. By which, the same God who worked through Moses was working through Jesus.
So, don't misunderstand why I have come [Jesus says]. I did not come to abolish [or to do away with] the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. ...I came to accomplish [to complete; finish entirely; to execute; to carry out; to fulfill and bring to pass] their purpose. For, I tell you the, that until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest detail of God's law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.
For God's moral and ceremonial laws were given to help people love God with all their hearts and minds. Yet, throughout Israel's history,..., these laws had often been misquoted and misapplied. Then by Jesus' time, religious leaders had turned the laws into a confusing mass of rules. So, when Jesus talked about a new way to understand God's law, he was actually trying to bring people back to its original purpose. And so, Jesus did not speak against the law itself but against the abuses and excesses to which it had be subjected.
So, if Jesus did not come to abolish the law, does that mean all the Old Testament laws still apply to us today? If so, then we will see, that in the Old Testament, there were three categories of law: ceremonial, civil, and moral.
1. The ceremonial law related first of all, specifically to Israel's worship. And, its primary purpose was to point forward to Jesus Christ,... , and yet, these laws,..., were no longer necessary after Jesus' death and resurrection. Yet, while we are no longer bound by ceremonial law, the principles behind them -- to worship and love a holy God -- still apply. ...
2. Then second of all, there was the civil law, which applied to daily living in Israel. And yet, because modern society and culture are so radically different from that time and setting, all these guidelines cannot be followed specifically. But the principles behind the commands are timeless and should guide our conduct. And this is why, Jesus demonstrated these principles by example.
3. And then last of all, the moral law [such as the Ten Commandments] is the direct command of God, and it requires strict obedience. Therefore, the moral law reveals the nature and will of God, and it still applies today.
So this is why Jesus said, Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.
And so, although it's true, that the grass withers and the wildflowers fade, but our God's Word stands firm... forever.
So even though, I don't think the way you think.
And, the way you work isn't the way I work. ...
Yet, as the sky soars high above the earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think. For just as the rain and snow descend from the skies and don't go back until they've watered the earth. Doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for the farmers and food for the hungry. So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed.
They'll do the work I sent them to do, and they'll complete the assignment I gave them, declares your God.
Composed and written on Friday, September 11, 2009