In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. (John 1:1, 2 NIV84)t
God sent his Son, literally a part of himself, to join mankind. (Immanuel, God with us – Isaiah 7:14) To live in our presence. To teach us of his Word and his plan for salvation. To cleanse us of our sin through his death on the cross. And to defeat death and its power with his resurrection.
In the beginning was the Word… In the beginning! God’s Word, his commandments, his plans, have always been. Throughout history, God has inspired men and women to speak his Word to his people. These spoken words were carefully documented and have been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years. And every part of it is still true… Is still relevant.
And when Jesus entered the world, he came to make clear to those who would listen (Matthew 13:15) what the whole point was.
“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. “But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven! (Matthew 5:17-20 NLT)
Jesus illuminated God’s perfect law so that it would be clear to all who were paying attention that they could never be “good enough” when measured up to it. We are sinful to our core.
He came to show those that were painfully aware of their hopeless sinfulness that through Him, they could be saved.
But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum? ” Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.” (Luke 5:30-32 NLT)
Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer : ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14 NLT)
Many missed his message. Especially the Pharisees that had devoted their lives to following the rules. They were so busy with the words that they missed The Word.
Jesus said the most important commandments are to 1) Love God; and 2) Love your neighbor. The entire law is based on these two commandments.
“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40 NLT)
Let’s not be like the Pharisees – so focused on the rules that we miss the point. Let’s love sinners like us into the arms of Jesus.