christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

matthew 12, rules vs rest

Read Matthew 12 at Bible Gateway.

The remainder of Mat 11 forms a chiastic structure with Mat 12:

Mat 11:25-12:14
1a) Mat 11:25-27, Hidden from the wise and prudent;
1b) Mat 11:28, Come to Me, and I will give you rest;
1c) Mat 11:29a, Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me;
central axis) Mat 11:29b, For I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls;
2c) Mat 11:30, For My yoke is easy and My burden is light;
2b) Mat 12:1-13, What is lawful on the Sabbath;
2a) Mat 12:14, The Pharisees plotted against Him, to destroy Him.

The central axis reveals the nature of Jesus: He is gentle and lowly in heart. We have read previously that He purified uncleanness, healed sickness, and cast out demons, because He is moved with compassion on our behalf.

Keep His nature in mind as we read this:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Joh 1:1

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Joh 1:14

He is the Word of God made flesh. The spoken Word of God, “thus saith the LORD,” that the prophets spoke and the scribes recorded, Jesus is. Now if the Living Word of God made flesh is full of grace and truth, it is because the first spoken, then written, Word of God is full of grace and truth also. So that text that we read called the Old Testament: that is what John is referring to. That is the text that put on flesh and became Jesus Christ.

Huh!!! The Old Testament is full of grace and truth! And that Word put on flesh and dwelt among us! He was moved with compassion for the multitudes; He ate with tax collectors and sinners; He is gentle and lowly in heart!

And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. Joh 1:16-18

The Law, or Torah, which was given through Moses, is the first five books of that Old Testament that is full of grace and truth. Now John just got done saying, that the Word of God is the same in nature as the Lord Jesus Christ, who is full of grace and truth. Is he now saying that the Law, which is the foundation of the Word of God, is different in nature than the Lord Jesus Christ? Is he now saying that Jesus Christ is full of grace and truth while the Law is not?

No, to interpret the passage that way, is to do violence to the verses in this exact same chapter that we just read, and to the rest of the Scriptures which extol the beauty, graciousness, and excellence of the Law of God (Psa 119 for example)! But that is the way we have been taught to understand John’s message. I believe the sense of it is this:

Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. Mat 23:1-4

Those who have sat themselves down in Moses’ seat, who are telling us what Moses said and meant, are the scribes and Pharisees. BUT THEY HAVE GOT IT WRONG! They have twisted the Torah to make it a burden hard to bear. They have changed it into a list of 613 rules, which must be perfectly obeyed without a slip to escape wrath. The word “torah” means the teaching and instruction of a Father to His beloved children. The Law as the Pharisees have twisted it means courtrooms, punishment, and condemnation.

The reality of it is, that Torah is a yoke which is light and easy to bear. It is a yoke which brings rest. It is full of grace and truth. It is one and the same with Jesus Christ our Lord. The written Word and the Living Word are not divorced from each other — they are expressing the same message of grace and truth, of compassion, of gentleness and lowliness, of revealing the Father’s heart of love for His children.

In fact, the written Word, without the Son, seems like nothing more than a list of regulations. But the Living Word reveals the grace and truth message of the written Word, which cannot be seen without Him.

matthew 12, what is lawful on the sabbath (2011)


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