Monday, July 4, 2011

The Gospel of John and Moses: III

For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”…Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, and said to him, “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?...The next day he [John] saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world…Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked and said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” See John 1:19 – 36.

Throughout the Gospel we see the juxtaposition of the Law and Grace; of Christ and Moses. Moses, as we have previously seen, testified of Christ, he pointed to Christ. The ministry of Moses was according to patterns of the heavenly things (Exodus 25:40; Hebrews 8:4-5). Among the patterns were the Passover Lamb and the sacrifices on the Day of Atonement. When John cries, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” John is using Mosaic language, he is evoking the Torah. John is referencing two of the most sacred days of the Jewish year, Passover and the Day of Atonement, and yet who hears John? Do priests or Levites or Pharisees hear John and follow Jesus? Do the people deeply versed in the Law and the traditions which had come to hedge the Law hear and follow Jesus? Do they make the connection between Moses and Jesus? Between the Passover Lamb and Jesus?

Contrasted with the priests, Levites and Pharisees, consider what Andrew says to his brother Peter, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41), and what Philip says to Nathanael, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets wrote…” (John 1:45). A woman in Samaria will come to know Jesus the Messiah (John Chapter 4) along with her Samarian town, but those who claim to know the Law best, those who have suffocated the Law with their traditions, will not know Him. An ignorant man born blind (John Chapter 9) will come to know the Messiah, but those who claim to know the Law will cast the man out of the synagogue.

The Lamb is before those who claim to know the Law in Chapter 1; the Bread of Life will be before them in Chapter 6; the Good Shepherd will be before them in Chapter 10, the Resurrection will be before them in Chapter 11, and so forth through the Gospel – but those who claim to know the Law and to know Moses don’t see Jesus for they have taken the Law and twisted it to their own ends, loving the praise of man more than the praise of God; seeking to establish their own righteousness they have rejected the righteousness of God – a Righteousness living and breathing before their eyes, God of very God.

The Law, unadulterated by man, drives us to seek mercy and grace; the Law, twisted by man, is turned into a perverted fa├žade of self-righteousness – a self-righteousness so acute that it drives one to crucify God, to crucify grace and mercy – indeed, a self-righteousness so acute that it mistakes God for the devil.

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