Monday, 17 February 2014

Comparing Matthew and John

Matthew's Gospel was probably written with Jews in mind. It assumed that the reader values the Scriptures and therefore stresses a lot Jesus' compliance with the Law and the Prophets. It mentions the honour with which Jesus viewed the Law while it was still in force. It presents the Gospel as it came to those who were still under the Law.

John's Gospel was probably written with Gentiles in mind, and therefore has to explain that the Passover was a feast of the Jews. And the feast of tabernacles was a feast of the Jews. It doesn't assume the readers valued the feasts or knew a lot about them. Certainly it shows they hadn't been taught by the Apostles to start observing them. 

John often contrasts Jesus with the Law. "The law came by Moses but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ".  

It mentions Jesus 'breaking' the sabbath.

It tells of the woman taken in adultery and how Jesus dealt with it.

It points-out the disobedience of the Jews. 

It stresses the worldwide availability of God's salvation early in the book, unlike Matthew which doesn't mention it until the end. 

It mentions that Jerusalem would no longer be the place of worship. It mentions believing a lot, and being born again.  

It distinguishes between disciples and the world, not between Law-keepers and non law-keepers.

Matthew and John emphasised different facets of Jesus' ministry because they had a different audience in mind. For his Jewish readers Matthew emphasises the Jewish context of Jesus' ministry: while John for his Gentile readers almost seems to seek to distinguish the Gospel from things Jewish. Reading both accounts therefore helps us get the complete, balanced message that Jesus was about.

We conclude therefore that during His ministry which was exclusively to Jews under the Law, Jesus kept the Law and fulfilled it and never taught to disdain it; and we also see that Jesus taught a different day coming when salvation would be for the whole world on the basis of believing in Him, through being born again, with worship not being centred in Jerusalem but in hearts. 

The Gospel was both of these things. It fulfilled the Old Testament then inaugurated the New. It wasn't one or the other. It did both. It inaugurated the New not by disdaining the Old but by doing and fulfilling it.

This eliminates both legalism and licentiousness. We're not required to keep the Law (and feasts etc) yet the Gospel lifestyle is not a lifestyle which breaks the ethics and higher purpose of the Law. That's the Gospel which Jesus taught.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Isaiah 66 Fulfilled

One of the several reason why I think Isa.66 found fulfilment in Old Covenant times, is because the context mentions the Levite order of priesthood, an order which has now past away. 

The Levitical priesthood was a shadow - and God isn't interested in reverting to a shadow once the real Person has already come. 

(And it wouldn't be possible to reinstate a legitimate Levitical priesthood anyway, seeing the required genealogies -showing descendency from Levi - were lost)

But of course the chapter is encouraging for us today in several ways.