The good news of Jesus Christ rescues those condemned by the Law and the Prophets.
Luke 16:14-18 – Focus on verse 16
14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, ‘You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.
16 ‘The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it. 17 It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.
18 ‘Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Focusing on verse 16 we have a very rich statement on the greatness of Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus said, “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it.” The big change is Jesus!
Some immediate questions arise. 1) If the Law and Prophets were proclaimed until John, have they now disappeared or become irrelevant? 2) Is there any connection between the Law and the Prophets and the good news of the kingdom of God? 3) What has the good news to do with people forcing their way into the kingdom? In short, the answers are “no”, “yes” and “everything”.
In the Law God revealed how his people should and should not live. He provided, through the ceremonies and institutions, a picture of what was needed to rescue them from their sinful lives. The Prophets showed the people of God how much they failed to obey and trust God. That is, how much they failed to keep the Law. Amid great condemnations there were also great messages of hope that pointed to the coming of Christ. The prophets’ message could be summarized as, “You have failed but God is merciful and will provide you with one who will rescue you. Trust him!” John the Baptist, as the last prophet, greatly reinforced this message by reminding the people they were great sinners, that they needed to change and be cleansed. He also spoke of the one who was so much greater than he, the one who is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
The Law was fulfilled, that is, obeyed, by Jesus. He also did all that was symbolised in the ceremonies by being the perfect sacrifice for his people. He fulfilled or brought to a focus the message of both the Law and the Prophets. It was all about him.
Now back to the questions above. In answer to 1) we can say, on the one hand, they have not disappeared or become irrelevant but remain as God’s standard and God’s critique of humanity. On the other hand, we can say that Jesus has kept God’s standard for his people and received God’s judgement against his people when he died on the cross. In answer to question 2) the connection is that the Law and Prophets raise the problem and Jesus is the solution to the problem. Question 3) is resolved by Jesus providing the way into the kingdom for all who will trust in him. People who know their great failures can flee to him (force their way into the kingdom) and know peace with God.
Head: If all in the Old Testament points to Jesus and has its fulfillment in him, then we need to start with Jesus, who he is and what he has done for us, if we are to understand the Bible’s message.
Heart: With so much to owe to Jesus, it is only appropriate that we should love him.
Hands: Have you forced your way into the kingdom of God by believing in Jesus Christ? Are you encouraging others to force their way in?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I must praise you for my Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is my hope, my peace and my life. Help me to trust him clearly and live in humble gratitude to you. In Jesus name. Amen.
A song to listen to: See the Man
Living Church – Creek Road