Just let it go

In the last post I talked about this verse:

Luk 16:16 “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.  (ESVST)

I would encourage you to read that post so it makes more sense.  When someone gets a glimpse of the Kingdom of Heaven they will be compelled to have more.  Think of a village in the deepest jungle of country far far away from civilization.  In this village nearly every child has been infected by a deadly incurable disease.  Through a series of events a team of doctors find a way into this village.  A cure has been found for this disease and these doctors have the vaccines.  The villagers have heard of this cure and are waiting the arrival of the team of doctors.  Tell me what mother or father wouldn’t bring their child to get vaccinated?  Tell me what mother or father wouldn’t pay any price for their child to receive the shot?  Show me one parent that wouldn’t try to be first in line just in case these doctors didn’t bring enough.  That is forcing your way in.

That fictional story is easier for us to believe than the truth of Jesus.  These people in these villages that Jesus stepped into were desperate for the Kingdom.  Once they “tasted” and “saw it was good” they had to have more.  They “pressed in” and “crowded” Jesus to get what He had to offer.  Think about it.  What would you do if Jesus walked into your house or work or bedroom or church.  Wouldn’t you run to Him?  Wouldn’t you reach out to Him for just a touch?  Wouldn’t you fall into His arms if He offered a hug?  Wouldn’t you let Him hold you and comfort you if He held out His arms?  (Unless He was a threat to your identity and livelihood.)

Can you believe that many of the people rejected Jesus?  Can you believe that many of the people wanted to arrest Jesus?  Can you believe that the religious wanted to kill Jesus?  Can you even imagine a group of people who wanted to kill the source of love and goodness?  Well they did and they still do, even today.  When we talk about how good God is, the religious are infuriated.  A discussion of God’s Grace and finished work will incite an angry response from the religious institutions. Want to know why?

Let’s take a little closer look at this passage in Luke.  Jesus tells a parable about a dishonest manager in Luke 16:1-9 and then warns the religious audience about being faithful with what God has given us.  He even says that it isn’t possible to love God and money (or riches).  These Jews were angry.  It is easy to sit back and judge them as hypocrites or dishonest, but you must know that they were doing exactly what they thought they should be doing under the law.  If they followed the law and received the approval of man then they would naturally be prosperous.  As a matter of fact, poverty would be a sign that they had sin in their lives and were not following the law.  They would be under a curse of the law.  Wealth, or lack of it would be an external indicator of a law follower or a law-breaker.

So then Jesus says this:

Luke 16:14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. (ESV)

Then Jesus says this:

Luk 16:16 “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. (ESVST)

And then the very next verse in Luke:

Luke 16:17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void. (ESV)

Here it is in a different translation:

Luke 16:17 “But it is easier for Heaven and earth to pass away than for one symbol of The Law to pass away.” (Aramaic Translation)

What is Jesus saying?

“They just won’t let it go.”

Jesus is not making a creation declaration of an eternal command.  He isn’t saying “I now declare that everyone will be required to follow the requirements of the law forever.”  He is making an observation.

I can see Him looking around the crowd and seeing the eyes of these Pharisees.  He sees the contempt, the anger, the fear, the total rejection of the Kingdom of Heaven.  All those who “need” Jesus are clamoring to get Him and all those who find their identity in their selfish lives reject Him.  These religious leaders find their very worth in their ability to follow the law.  Their outward appearance is everything.  Their acceptance by men is who they are.

The law can’t pass away because there will always be those that find their identity in it and the law is necessary to bring them to the end of that identity.  The Pharisees were comfortable with the law.  They saw it as an achievable goal that could be managed.  Jesus used the law for what it was intended.  He had such a powerful way of showing us the law as the perfect mirror to reveal its followers faults.  I’ll talk more about that in the next few posts.  But sure enough you see that emphasis here.

Luke 16:18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery. (ESV)

It was common for the Pharisees to find “loop holes” in the law.  This way they could do what they wanted and keep up their outward appearances.  Divorce and remarriage was one of those areas.  The Pharisees would go from town to town and marry and divorce at will so they would have a “wife” in every town.  Again, I have to emphasize this is just how they operated.  It is easy for us to sit back and say these were corrupt religious manipulators but that wouldn’t be true.  Look at Paul.  He was a Pharisee and a zealot for God.  He had a murdering squad that was there to defend the law.  This group wanted to eliminate anything opposed to the law including “the way.”

After this Jesus tells a story about Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31.  If you look close you will see that the rich man represents the Pharisees and Lazarus represents those who are finding the Kingdom.  The rich man was dressed in purple and fine linen.  This is the clothing of a religious leader.  Lazarus is poor, outcast and even has sores.  The Jews would have seen Lazarus as an obvious sinner because of his condition.  The Pharisees would have gladly identified with the rich man until they see him in Hades.  The rich man pleads with Abraham to send a message back from the dead so his relatives will know better.  Then the Abraham character says this:

Luke 16:31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” (ESV)

Is it obvious now that these “lawyers” couldn’t and didn’t want to know the truth of Jesus? They rejected Him instead of flocking to Him.  Their relationship was with the law.  Their identity was in the law.

When we ate from the wrong tree the knowledge of good and evil became our master.  Our very identity was found in comparisons and lists and rules and acceptance based on our ability to fit in by following the lists and rules.  The Jews had taken this to a new level when they actually believed they could achieve a righteousness (right standing with God) through the law.  They just couldn’t let it go.  The law was more important than anything else including the Kingdom of Heaven.

In the next few posts I want to unpack this truth in more detail.  I really believe that this will set you free.  When you can “just let it go” and step into the Kingdom, you will find freedom, joy, power, love, a right relationship with your Abba.

Jesus brought the good news and is the good news and reveals the good news.  Good news is good!  The Kingdom is irresistible.  We just need to see it.  When our vision is clouded by an identity found in worshiping the law, we can’t just let it go to trust and leap into the arms of a good God.  I say we just let it go and step into the Kingdom.

Yay God!

Lance

 

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