Tuesday, 17 December 2013

An Analogy On Matthew 5:18

A primary school gets a new teacher. The new teacher turns out to be quite easy-going with the pupils - not stroppy like other teachers. He's a real hit with the kids - they love him!

"But don't think I'm here to change the school rules. I'm doing the rules," he explains to his class one day. 

"If anyone has an attitude of breaking one of the rules," he continues, "I can assure you that attitude won't help him very much when he grows up and goes out into the real world..."

"...but anyone who develops the character trait of obeying all the school rules, I'm telling you - you'll end up going a long way in life one day!" 

Years later, after becoming a great success in life, one of the students comes and thanks his old school teacher, now retired, for having taught him to obey all the school rules when he was young. All of the lessons he'd learned at school had prepared him well for entering adult life.

It didn't mean the student was continuing to obey the school rules or program throughout his adult life. That was never his teacher's intention, even though his teacher had told him he must keep all the school rules - and meant every word of it literally at the time.

Many of the school rules, curriculum, tests, protocols, ceremonies, the school calendar, program, prohibited items, the required uniform, elected offices like prefects, out of bounds areas, even the school canteen menu, and the school's system of rewards or detentions - were suitable only for children, suitable only for students, and had relevance only inside the school campus, not to adult life. 

Plus by this time all the school buildings were eventually demolished, and the grounds were no longer in use as a school campus. So once the student became an adult, he understood that the time for keeping all of the old school rules was over. 

Obeying the school program was important to his education and development at the time - but continuing to keep the school rules into adult life was not what his teacher intended.

The teacher always knew the time would come when his students would reach adulthood and go out into the real world, and then they would no longer continue to keep the school rules. But until that time came, their teacher knew it was appropriate that he prepare his students by teaching them to follow the school program.

Before the student went to thank his old teacher, he'd noticed that many of his peers who had a habit during their school days of not handing in assignments, and breaking rules, ended up unprepared for the opportunities that came to them in adulthood and many of them still had not found their career even after so many years.

Furthermore, he read in the newspaper that many of the other teachers who'd always seemed so sullen while he was at school, had been found rorting the system. So they weren't offered any new position, after the old school campus was demolished.

Everything his teacher told him about the importance of keeping the school rules had literally come true. Just as he'd said, everyone who had a right attitude towards the school rules at the time - whether student or staff - was now doing well in life, either as a productive adult in the private sector, or as staff in a new educational system; meanwhile everyone who who broke the rules ended up in the unfulfilling predicament they're in today.

Although no-one was required to keep his old school's program anymore, he was really grateful that his teacher had taught him the importance of following his school's rules at the time.

Like the teacher in the analogy above who knew the child's time in school was only temporary preparation for adulthood, Jesus knew the New Covenant was near, and desired to prepare Israel to enter it. The appropriate way for Him to prepare the Jews at that time was to teach the right attitude towards the Covenant they had at the time, which was Moses' Law. And that's where Matt.5:18 came in. 

He refuted the idea that He came to disdain Moses' Law. He upheld it. In letter and in heart. But that didn't mean He was asserting that the Old Covenant - Moses' Law - would always be binding on everyone for all time.

Throughout His ministry He consistently and steadily unfolded the truth that a new covenant, a new day, was near. He inaugurated it a short time later on the cross, which also fulfilled the Law and the Prophets.

Neither was it intended to mean modern Jews are still obligated to keep the Law in some altered fashion, because that would change more than a mere jot or tittle.

He meant it literally to the Jews at that time. But He didn't mean you and I must do and teach Moses' laws.

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