Morality without the cross

Knowing what we have discovered about secular religious power in religious hands we ought to be far more cautious about reinventing the wheel.  The trial of Jesus by a religious court provides convincing evidence that injustice can acquire the label and reputation of justice.  We can add nothing to the doctrines of Moses or Jesus and mixing the two is bound to result in wasting the two.

You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you. Deut. 4:2,

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, (Rev. 22:18)  and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Rev. 22:19)

Rev. 22:18-19

Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”

Matthew 9:17

The persecution of the church

In John 5:16 we see the Jews persecuting Jesus, because He was doing good things on the Sabbath.  In Acts we see the persecution of Jesus’s disciples continues the church for calling on and preaching Jesus’s name.   Perhaps it is James and the Pharisees who are the persecutors of the church.  Judaism has never sustained a sense of morality.  It only knew how to engage in power plays: prosecuting violators of the law, keeping aliens as second class citizens, and discriminating against women.  Perfection and maturity are not the outcomes of law; law lets people know what sin they have committed, it condemns everyone without exception and predicts it’s own demise.

The way and the life

Since Christ personally takes the reins of God’s kingdom from the levitical system complete with a change of law, how can life of the redeemed (the converted) ever be shaped by dead works?   Death and condemnation are not affirmed by the ritual law…  Death sentences appear all over the law: for incest, sorcery, gluttony, rebellious children and many prohibitions (“you shall not…”) regarding festivals, and food and drink.   We could believe that the law has nothing to do with moral behaviour or lifesaving obligations, but how can the cross not be elevated above the hills because of the freedom from death it brings?  How can the cross not be the spice that flavors the life it brings if we believe that it does something the law could never do? Where is “what he’s done for others he’ll do for you” when you need one?

The evangelical world rejects the idea that the Law is perfect by rejecting the Sabbath and the rituals for sacrifice and festivals.   If the law needs an improvement for the protection of women’s inheritance rights it is neither whole nor perfect.  A Jew will rightly not accept the unraveling of the law into moral and ritual.  Christians know that defining sin is not what Christ came to do.  He came to abolish death and bring life and immortality to light through the gospel. If you think that the gospel is inadequate as a moral standard you will remain excited about pig’s mud, dog’s vomit, and give the nod to oppression of the poor and needy.

No Tabernacles for the Prophets

Matthew 17:4-8 shakes up the world of the prophets and the disciples. In this version of the story the two prophets do not get a briefing about Christ’s atoning sacrifice and I am loathe to try and harmonize the evangelists’ intentions. Luke alone (9:31) seems to have inquired about the conversation between the three and learned that the two prophets had been talking about (most certainly the meaning of) Christ’s death.

Who appeared in glory, and spoke of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.

The narrative freezes any attempt to honour the prophets, even these two towering figures. It also denies the equality of Christ and the prophets.

Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if you will, let us make here three tabernacles; one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. While he yet spoke, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear all of you him.

Hear and Fear

Two things bring on the reverence due. The disciples are wrong about the prophets and wrong about Christ. They go from being excited about the prophets’ association with the Rabbi to sheer terror and to the stark reality that Yeshua is all there is.

And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.

Christ, the Atoning Sacrifice for Sickness and Disease?

Christ forgave people their sins before he actually laid down his life. Adam, Abraham, and Moses were all forgiven. Now we’re pretty sure that there is no sin that can be defined as mankind needing physical maintenance. God also healed scores people in ancient times without the reference to sacrificial death.

Where is death, enemy #1, in the scenario that permanently forgives sins, heals bodies, and relieves demonic oppression?

Christ died to save us from our sins, not from sickness, and not from poverty or lack of this world’s goods. He saves all or none at all. New bodies are a resurrection morning event for everyone. He heals all or none at all. Matthew 8:16-17 is not about atonement, but divine generosity, identifying with human humiliation and relieving human physical and demonic oppression. The remission of sin is the only stated goal for Christ’s death on the cross.

That evening they brought to him many were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: He took our illnesses and bore our diseases. Matthew 8:16-17