The Sufficiency of the Law and the Prophets

Vaclav's picture

As Jesus was teaching in parables he exposed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees who loved money, and didn't pay attention to the teaching of the Law and Prophets on loving their neighbors, and the poor in particular.

In Luke 16:19-31 Jesus gave this illustration of the rich man in hell and in torment saying to father Abraham to send Lazarus from the dead and warn his family about the horrible place he was in. The dialog between the rich man and Abraham is very interesting and revealing: "Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ “‘No, father Abraham,’ he [the rich man] said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ “He [Abraham] said to him, ‘If they do not listen to [the teaching of] Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’" (vs.29-31).

Jesus is teaching that Moses or the teaching of the law portions of the Old Testament and the teaching of the Prophets, basically the whole Old Testament (the only Bible they had at the time of Jesus) is sufficient and authoritative to show people the way of salvation, and we would do well to listen to its teaching. No talking to the dead or necromancy allowed. In fact in the Old Testament it's forbidden, and in the case of trespass, punished by death penalty.

Just a few verses before, Jesus said, "The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John [the baptist]. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law." (vs.16-17). Jesus taught the permanence of the Law, or of the whole Old Testament, because those Scriptures spoke of the King who was to come. And this King who came to establish his kingdom of peace, grace and righteousness is Jesus himself.

Though many people were forcing their way, in their own way into the kingdom of God, even as people do today "by hook or by crook", Jesus was basically saying, do not be so fast, people! Jesus was saying that it's not in any way you'll get into the kingdom of God, because there's only one way, through me, the King Jesus. Why? Because Jesus is the only one who is perfectly righteous and able to keep the requirements to enter and stay in the kingdom of God. But Jesus as a man kept the whole law and fulfilled all of it in our place, and took the punishment on himself for our trespasses on the cross of Calvary. So, the only entrance into the kingdom of Jesus is faith, or trust in Jesus, who came to do all for us, or in our place.

Now that's a GOOD NEWS to "the weary and heavy laden" who know they cannot keep the Law's demands! But to the self-righteous, like the Pharisees it was a BAD NEWS, because they trusted in themselves that they're good enough for God to accept them on their own terms. We deceive ourselves thinking that "my good will outweigh my bad", because God will never accept only outward appearance of obedience though inside we don't want to obey God. Holy God is looking on the heart first: do we love him?, do we love to obey him?, do we love righteousness and hate the sin and the unrighteousness within us? It is not only wickedness that comes from the heart, but also the appearance of righteousness, or the pretended righteousness, which is simply self-righteousness.

Jesus alone is perfectly righteous inwardly and outwardly, because he as a man, alone has obeyed God his Father perfectly in his thoughts, feelings, will, words, actions, intentions, in doing the good and avoiding the bad. And Jesus did it all for us, or in our place. His whole life and death was a life of perfect obedience, and sacrifice. Through him alone all sinners, the unrighteous as well as self-righteous may find forgiveness, peace, grace and the free gift of Jesus' righteousness freely given to us as a gift!

So, now our authority is not only the Old Testament which pointed to the coming Messiah, but now also the New Testament which reveals who the Messiah is, which is JESUS THE CHRIST! FOR HE IS THE GOSPEL, THE GOOD NEWS OF THE KINGDOM HE CAME TO ESTABLISH, by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone!