Jesus is the Son of Man
Law and Gospel
All right! Please turn with me in your Bibles to Luke chapter 16. As usual, if you do not have a Bible, or you need a Bible, please see me after the service.
So, in this section of Luke, Jesus has been talking about the gift of grace. Salvation by grace alone. He is reiterating and emphasizing that our salvation, our justification has nothing to do with our possessions, or our actions, or anything else about us.
And anytime people, or in this case, the God Man, emphasizes the free gift of grace, they are going to get push back. The term that fits is “antinomian.” IT means against the law, or anti law. And when someone says that what they mean is that a person doesn’t care about the law, that they think you can do anything you want, and it doesn’t matter because God is grace and love and forgiveness.
The Pharisees had seen sinners gathering around Jesus, tax collectors even! Jesus didn’t care that they sinned and broke Gods law, in fact, by spending time with them, it was like he was telling them that they didn’t have to!
The Pharisees would see this and think, that’s not right, its not fair, we are spending all our time obeying the laws, and even more laws that we added as well, and Jesus is saying it doesn’t mean anything!
Then we see last week, were Jesus seemingly responds to that view from the Pharisees. Jesus essentially says that, although your salvation is not dependent on it or affected by it, how you live absolutely matters.
God is God. God is Ultimate. God is your Master. WE are slaves, servants, bondservants of God. WE are called to be the manager or steward of what he has given us. You have done nothing to earn or receive what God has given you, and in fact, he has not quite given it to you, instead he has entrusted it to you. Its still Gods.
And so, use those gifts, whether it be influence, power, money, testimony, spiritual gifts, or whatever, use those things to serve and to please God. All things in this world should be held with open hands and be handed over to God.
What God says should have more authority over our lives than anything and everything.
So, with that established, lets go ahead and read the aftermath of what Jesus taught last week, as we look at Luke chapter 16, verses 14-18. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation.
The Holy spirit inspired Luke to record his Gospel as we pick up, Luke 16:14-18:
The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
16 “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.[e] 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.
18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.
Thus says the Word of God.
Now the previous parable was told directly to the disciples, likely with the sinners and tax collectors right there to hear the message. And Jesus was telling them about how to follow and serve God.
Now, the pharisees were hearing the teaching as well, obviously purposely by Jesus. Now, the Pharisees were Identified as lovers of money. They heard what Jesus was saying about not being able to serve both God and money.
And the scriptures say that they ridiculed him, they derided him. The definition of the word is to turn up your nose, to sneer, to scoff at. That’s what the Pharisees did when they heard Jesus’s teachings that we looked at last week.
Now, the question on all our minds, and I know Jim there has some things to say, but the question is why were they mocking/ What did the mocking consist of?
What I mean, is, were they wondering, “Who is he talking about? Not us, of course! Must be the tax collectors. WE serve God. WE just happen to recognize what Jesus is missing, that us having money and power and so on is because we earned God’s Blessing.”
One commentator imagines them saying, “Of course he is criticizing the rich! Poor people always do! Its jealousy!”
The question comes down to, are they justifying their love for money? OR are they denying their love for money? Or are they dismissing Jesus’s teachings that love for money is wrong?
The fact is that whatever the mindset or the motivation, this is what the world does when it does things like say that Jesus is simply a good teacher. O that he was a good moral example. When we throw empty compliments at God, we reject and mock his salvation plan just like the pharisees were doing with Jesus.
So first, the Pharisees are saying that Jesus too lenient, and now we see them essentially saying that he is being too strict.
Jesus responds to them; you can justify yourself all you want. You can deny all want. But God knows all. He sees through all of it. You can play the part. You can look the part. You can fool the audience, but you can’t fool the playwright.
You can have men tricked into thinking that you are godly, that you are pious, that you are righteous. But at the core of everything, God knows who you are. He knows your heart. He knows your true identity, no matter the personality you portray. That is that we are sinners. That is our natural born identity before God, and one that only he can change in us.
Jesus shows us that the things that men think are important, the things that make us high and mighty among this world, any human achievements. They are all dirty rags to God.
This includes and is especially in regard to anything and everything NOT done to and for the Glory of God. As we ended last week, who is ultimate in your life and your decision making? You or God?
Again, God sees all. Physical, emotional, spiritual. Jesus says that if its not done for and to God’s glory then it’s an abomination. OF course, that word is not really acceptable these days and to be fair, we tend to only use it for certain sins, in certain situations. Honestly, there have been times that we have used the word like a club.
But we see what God’s word says, Sin is an abomination. All sin, as we see, but then especially some sins. Specifically, here, trusting in yourself instead of God, rejecting the Son, a self-righteous and rebellious heart, which we all have until God changes it, that is an Abomination unto God.
In verse 16, Jesus tells them that the Law and Prophets lasted until the time of John the Baptist and ended with him. Starting with the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, we see that it is now time of the Gospel. John and Jesus ministries overlapped as both call on their hearers to repent, as the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
And then we see this interesting phrase. “Everyone forces his way into it.” Honestly, no one seems to know what it means, but of course, people are not short on opinions and theories. An alternate translation, as noted in the footnotes of most translations is “Everyone is forcefully urged into it.”
One theory is that this is referring to the same idea we looked at in Luke 13:24. Strive to enter through the narrow door. Strive, exert, make every effort, do everything you can to ensure that you are in the kingdom of heaven.
Of course, this is not to say Do this in order to get in, but do this as the fruit that you are already in.
Another common and popular idea about this phase is that it refers to the momentum of Christianity as it spread, starting with the time that Jesus was here, speaking, teaching, miracling and many followed him. He let the flood gates open as the Gospel was presented first to the Jews, then the Gentiles. And after his death and resurrection and ascension, the Apostles brought the Gospel to the ends of the known earth, starting with Pentecost when many were added to the church. This would culminate in the 4th century when Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the roman Empire.
And Jesus tells them, just in case there is any misunderstanding, which we all know that there was on the Pharisees part. Just in case there was a misunderstanding, The law still matters.
Now, how we mean that, how it applies is the key. WE are not under the Old Covenant, the covenant of the Law. We are under the New Covenant, covered under and sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ. We are not saved through obedience to and keeping the law, we are saved by grace through faith in Christ.
But that cannot and does not mean that the law is abolished, that it doesn’t matter. And in fact, if you look at the teachings of Jesus, especially in the Sermon on the Mount, he lays down a much more restrictive view of the law, a more demanding view of it.
Having sex with someone not your spouse is adultery. Jesus says, even lusting in your heart after someone is adultery, a sin. Murder is a sin. But Jesus says that hate in your heart means that you are guilty of murder. God knows the heart and the heart matters.
The point is that Christianity is not a “Do whatever you want and its all-good cause Jesus!” religion. The problem is that most people who see and agree with that, figure that it must be what they see is the opposite. We have to behave and obey in order to earn the blessings and favor of God.
The truth is that the higher view we have ourselves, the more righteous we see ourselves, the lower we practically see, the less righteous we view the law and the commands of God.
The truth is that grace is freely given, undeserved and cannot be earned or kept. The truth is that grace, through the Holy Spirit, brings about a change of heart. It’s the change of heart that changes everything and includes a growing over time desire to follow the law and commands that God has given us and to do them to the glory of God. Jesus tells his followers, if you love me, keep my commands. This is the key to it; You can not sin to the glory of God.
Now, we come to verse 18, and once again, we ask, why is this one single line, this single verse stuck right here, seemingly in the middle of everything else, seemingly unconnected.
WE have before and we will teach on divorce in other sections. And we could here, but I want to focus on the context. Why did Jesus say this here and now? This was one of the biggest ways that the Pharisees got the law, its intention and the application wrong.
Gods law didn’t address enough for them, it didn’t anticipate every contingency, it didn’t adequately cover all the reasons that a husband especially could get fed up with his wife and should be able to divorce her. So, they made their own laws regarding it. They decided to do what was right in their own eyes.
Jesus is using verse 18 to prove his point and give an example of verse 17. Jesus said elsewhere that the reasons God allowed any divorce at all was because of the hardness of their hearts. Scripture gives exceptions, but the Pharisees had created a lot of so-called legitimate reasons for divorce, including if the wife ruined a meal or if the husband found a woman prettier than his wife.
Jesus points out to us that when our heart is bad, when we have a hard heart, we will cling to outward behavior with rebellious hearts, or we will throw behavior out altogether. Both are wrong. They can seem opposites at first glance, but they are really two sides of the same coin. The cure to both of them is the same. The grace filled Gospel.
The Law was given to us by God to guide us. It was given to us to make us holy. It was given to us to convict us. And it was given to us to reflect the very person and character of God.
Right and wrong still matter.
Right and wrong are still determined by the Law.
Right and wrong are still determined by the Word of God.
Salvation is still determined solely by God’s grace.
Sanctification and maturing are determined by God’s grace
Sanctification and maturing are determined by our continued and growing obedience to the Law.
Sanctification and maturing are determined by the work of the Holy Spirit inside of us.
Sanctification and maturing are determined by spiritual disciplines.
In any real and practical sense, in real world application, there is no way that you can divorce the Law from the Gospel. They don’t and were never intended to serve the same purpose, so you can’t compare them as apples to apples, but instead are more like peanut butter and jelly, or any other two complimentary foods you want to use in the comparison.
Jesus spends much of his time teaching actually interpreting and clarifying the Old Testament. He, being the Word incarnate, is the one who gets to determine and tell us what the Scriptures mean. But that’s getting into next weeks passage too.
The fact is, God knows the heart. He knows your heart. Even if you think or portray obedience to the Word, if your heart says different, God says you are wrong.
You can say you use money to serve God, but God knows better.
You can say you don’t seek the approval of this world, but God knows better.
You can say you know that you are saved by faith in Christ alone, but God sees you trying to earn it and keep by your works.
You don’t get into the kingdom of God by following the law, because nobody can, except Jesus who did. You get in by God’s grace gifting you repentance and faith in Christ. You show you are in by following the law, and more importantly and more accurately, wanting in your heart to follow the law.