Friday, April 22, 2005

Johnny Law

The story of John the Baptist contains an allegory. John represents the Old Covenant; Jesus the New.

Galatians 4:24-26

This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.


Romans 5:20

The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

John the Baptist represents the Old Covenant of the Law, while Jesus represents the New Covenant of grace. In order for people to receive grace they must first experience the hunger for righteousness that is created by attempting and failing to keep the Law of Moses.

Luke 1

5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
6 They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.
7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.

Zacharias and Elizabeth were the epitome of walking according to the Law. And yet they were barren. There was no fruit. The Law does not produce fruit. It merely creates a hunger for fruit.

Romans 8:3

For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,

8 Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division,
9 according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
10 And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering.
11 And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense.

The angel appeared to Zacharias while he was performing the priestly service prescribed by the Law.

12 Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him.

The Law produced fear in Zacharias, well, at least it made him jumpy.

13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.
14 "You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.
15 "For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb.

John would drink no wine or liquor as his life was to characterize the joylessness of trying to keep the Law.

16 "And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God.
17 "It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."


John made the people ready for the Lord by calling them to repent, to acknowledge their failure to keep the Law so that they would see their need for salvation from the penalties of the Law.

Romans 3:19,20

Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

Galatians 3:24,25

24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.
25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.


John 1:6-18

6 There came a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7 He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him.
8 He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.
9 There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.
11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,
13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 John testified about Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'"
16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.
18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

The Law is not grace. The Law is a witness to the light of grace. Jesus' own did not receive Him because they felt like they were already righteous because they felt like they were keeping the Law already. They saw no need of salvation from sin.

The Law was shadow. The grace of Christ was light.

The Law was a hint of what was to come. Christ was the flesh.

The Law was a false hope, in itself. Christ was the truth.

Hebrews 7:18,19

18 For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness
19 (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

Grace and truth are greater than the Law because they existed before the Law.

Mark 1:4,5

4 John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
5 And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

Only those who acknowledge their sins understand the need for a Savior.

Matthew 3:2-4

2 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
3 For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, "THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, 'MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT!'"
4 Now John himself had a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.

The kingdom of heaven's gracious acceptance is about to replace the kingdom of the earthly wisdom of performing in order to be accepted by God.

John's lifestyle characterized the self-abasement of the Law.

Luke 3:3-9

3 And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins;
4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, "THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, 'MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT.

5 'EVERY RAVINE WILL BE FILLED, AND EVERY MOUNTAIN AND HILL WILL BE BROUGHT LOW; THE CROOKED WILL BECOME STRAIGHT, AND THE ROUGH ROADS SMOOTH;
6 AND ALL FLESH WILL SEE THE SALVATION OF GOD.'"

All flesh will now see the salvation of God because salvation is no longer tied to the Law, which was given only to the nation of Israel.

7 So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8 "Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father,' for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.
9 "Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."


Those who believed in righteous through keeping the Law saw no need to flee to Christ for salvation from the wrath to come. They thought their own righteousness would protect them. They thought that just being part of the nation of Israel made them righteous before God.

Those who relied on the Law and saw no need for Christ were about to be cut down and thrown into the fire as garbage which is of no use. The nation of Israel had been called to glorify God and not their own self-righteousness. They had become useless. God will now raise up children of faith from the stony ground of the gentile nations.

Luke 3:15-20

15 Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he was the Christ,
16 John answered and said to them all, "As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
17 "His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
18 So with many other exhortations he preached the gospel to the people.
19 But when Herod the tetrarch was reprimanded by him because of Herodias, his brother's wife, and because of all the wicked things which Herod had done,
20 Herod also added this to them all: he locked John up in prison.


Jesus will bring the condemnation of His fiery words of truth on those who don't think they need the grace of God to cover their sins.

Matthew 3:13-15

13 Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him.
14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?"
15 But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he permitted Him.


John understood that grace was about to replace the Law, but Jesus must fulfill all of the requirements of the Law and be baptized by John.

Luke 3:21-22


21 Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened,
22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased."


The dove represents the peace of God that comes after the judgement of the Law, just as in Noah's day the dove represented an end to the flood of God's judgment.

God is no longer pleased by the Law. Now He is pleased by the grace and truth represented by His Son.

Matthew 17:1-5

1 Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves.
2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.
3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.
4 Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!"


We are to listen to Jesus and not to the Law as represented by Moses and Elijah.

John 3:23-31

23 John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and people were coming and were being baptized--
24 for John had not yet been thrown into prison.
25 Therefore there arose a discussion on the part of John's disciples with a Jew about purification.

John's disciples were concerned with the ritual purification required by the Law.

26 And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him."
27 John answered and said, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.
28 "You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, 'I am not the Christ,' but, 'I have been sent ahead of Him.'
29 "He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice So this joy of mine has been made full.
30 "He must increase, but I must decrease.
31 "He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.

The Law of Moses must decrease and the grace of Christ must increase.

The Law is from earth below and grace is from heaven above.

Galatians 4:25,26

Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.

Mark 1:14-15

14 Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,
15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

Jesus waits until after John has been taken into custody before He declares that the time of the Law is fulfilled and the kingdom of His grace has arrived. Now we are required to repent and believe the gospel instead of John's message of repentance and keeping the Law.

Mark 2:16-28

16 When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, "Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?"
17 And hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

The Law of Moses separates the righteous from the unrighteous but the grace of Jesus unites us all.

18 John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and they came and said to Him, "Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?"
19 And Jesus said to them, "While the bridegroom is with them, the attendants of the bridegroom cannot fast, can they? So long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.
20 "But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.
21 "No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results.
22 "No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins."

Law and grace cannot mix. Any amount of Law destroys grace.

John had to be imprisoned and killed before Jesus could complete His ministry.

23 And it happened that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain.
24 The Pharisees were saying to Him, "Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?"
25 And He said to them, "Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry;
26 how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?"
27 Jesus said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.
28 "So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."

The Sabbath law kept people from enjoying God's grace. Jesus is the rest represented by the Sabbath.

Matthew 11:1-13

1 When Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities.
2 Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples
3 and said to Him, "Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?"
4 Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and report to John what you hear and see:
5 the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM.
6 "And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me."

While John was alive people were confused by the two messages of Law and grace. Now that John is gone Jesus can send out His disciples to preach the gospel of grace.

7 As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?
8 "But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings' palaces!
9 "But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet.
10 "This is the one about whom it is written, 'BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY BEFORE YOU.'
11 "Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Even the greatest of the kingdom of the Law is less than the least in the kingdom of heaven's grace.

12 "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.
13 "For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John.

The death of John signifies the end of the prophets and the Law.

Matthew 11:28-30

28 "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.
30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

The Law is a heavy burden. The grace of Jesus is rest for our souls.

Mark 6:14-18

14 And King Herod heard of it, for His name had become well known; and people were saying, "John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and that is why these miraculous powers are at work in Him."
15 But others were saying, "He is Elijah " And others were saying, "He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old."
16 But when Herod heard of it, he kept saying, "John, whom I beheaded, has risen!"
17 For Herod himself had sent and had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, because he had married her.
18 For John had been saying to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."

John preached the Law.

Luke 9:7-20

7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening; and he was greatly perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead,
8 and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen again.
9 Herod said, "I myself had John beheaded; but who is this man about whom I hear such things?" And he kept trying to see Him.


Notice the transition that takes place after John's death. Jesus begins preaching about the kingdom of God and begins the healing and feeding ministries that characterize God's grace.

10 When the apostles returned, they gave an account to Him of all that they had done. Taking them with Him, He withdrew by Himself to a city called Bethsaida.
11 But the crowds were aware of this and followed Him; and welcoming them, He began speaking to them about the kingdom of God and curing those who had need of healing.
12 Now the day was ending, and the twelve came and said to Him, "Send the crowd away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and get something to eat; for here we are in a desolate place."
13 But He said to them, "You give them something to eat!" And they said, "We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless perhaps we go and buy food for all these people."
14 (For there were about five thousand men.) And He said to His disciples, "Have them sit down to eat in groups of about fifty each."
15 They did so, and had them all sit down.
16 Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them, and broke them, and kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people.
17 And they all ate and were satisfied; and the broken pieces which they had left over were picked up, twelve baskets full.
18 And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, "Who do the people say that I am?"
19 They answered and said, "John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again."
20 And He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" And Peter answered and said, "The Christ of God."


Even Peter now realizes that Jesus is something completely different from the prophets of the old Law.

Matthew 16:13-19

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
14 And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets."
15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
17 And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
18 "I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
19 "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven."

The kingdom of heaven is based on Peter's realization that the age of the Law has been replaced by the age of grace.












2 Comments:

At 3:24 PM, Blogger ltate said...

"This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!"

Bill wrote: "We are to listen to Jesus and not to the Law as represented by Moses and Elijah."

Bill, that's great insight! I had not seen before that John represented the Law.

Bill wrote: "Now we are required to repent and believe the gospel instead of John's message of repentance and keeping the Law."

Bill, are we required to repent?!! (Where are the smiley face buttons on this thing?)

 
At 4:54 PM, Blogger Bill said...

Yeah, I suppose I should switch to a different comment form. It's just not that high on my list right now.

Of course we're required to change our minds. Don't you think so?

John called people to change their minds about their sinfulness and to keep the Law of Moses.

Jesus calls on people to change their minds about God's love and to believe in Him.

What do you think?

 

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