2015-3-29 The Old and The New

LUKE 16:14-18                                                                                          MARCH 29, 2015


Technology is changing so quickly that my computer which is only a few years old is considered antique and almost worthless. We are in a period of rapid change in which that which is old is often considered obsolete or even useless. This idea in that which is old is worthless is often carried over to other things. At home I like my old wooden desk as it does not fall apart so easily as other pieces of new furniture. Jesus came preaching a new message which was considered controversial, and he was accused of throwing out the law and tradition.

Jesus told the parable of the shrewd manager to highlight the search for eternal values. He spoke about the need to pursue what is eternal. He spoke plainly about the need for people to love and serve God as our primary purpose in living. Luke 16:13 (NIV) 13 “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

The reaction of the Pharisees was to mock Jesus. Luke 16:14-15 (NIV) 14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” The Pharisees made a big mistake that many people today also make. The mistake is when we think our opinions are more important than anyone else. We may think well of ourselves but what matters is what God thinks.

This is the problem with most religions. We make up our own rules as humans and think that this pleases God. Jesus came from God to show men the way to God and to teach man what we are to believe about God. Jesus told them they had it all wrong. Listen again to his words. Luke 16:15 (NIV) 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” We need to listen to God.

People accused Jesus of teaching what was contrary to the Law and the Prophets. The phrase “the Law and the Prophets” was a way of saying everything that is found in the Scriptures from the Old Testament. Jesus taught people that what he was teaching was new but it did not contradict the Scriptures. Luke 16:16-17 (NIV) 16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. 17 It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.”

John the Baptist was the middle point between the Old and the New Testaments. John was the last prophet of the Old Testament who prepared the way for Jesus to bring in the good news of the Gospel. Because Jesus was bringing in a new understanding and showing a new way; people naturally thought that he was promoting a rejection of the Law and the Prophets.

Jesus said it would be easier for heaven and earth to disappear than the Scriptures disappear. Heaven and earth are signs of permanence. They are symbols of what God has done. Humans are not capable of doing away with either the earth or the heavens. We might bring destruction but we can never remove them completely. We know that when Jesus returns there will be a new heaven and a new earth. So until the end of time the earth and the heavens will last. Yet God’s word will endure forever. Psalm 119:89 (NIV) 89 Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” Psalm 119:160 (NIV) 160 All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.” Jesus said in Luke 21:33 (NIV) 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

This is vitally important because so many people ignore the Old Testament. We must never ignore the Word of God. God does not change and neither does His Word. I have heard Christians say “All we need are the words of Christ in red.” Jesus indicated clearly that not even the least stroke of the pen of God’s word would disappear.

We no longer follow the purity laws or make sacrifices because Jesus was our eternal sacrifice for our sins. Hebrews 9:27-28 (NIV) 27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” God’s values have not changed and will not change. God has not changed.

Jesus then gave an example of religious people who were seeking to lessen the requirements in God’s Word. Divorce was permitted by Moses but was not a part of God’s plan. Some religious leaders promoted the idea that one could divorce his wife for any reason. So you see even back then people were seeking to provide an excuse for doing what they wanted to do by changing the meaning of the scriptures. Luke 16:18 (NIV) 18 “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Marriage is meant to be taken seriously and divorce must always be an option of last resort. When divorce occurs it is a result of sin. Yet we need to remember that divorce is not unforgiveable. Too many people think the Ten Commandments are optional. The Word of God is meant to be taken seriously and especially by those of us who profess to follow Christ. At the same time we must allow for the grace and love of Christ to be preeminent in our lives. When we sin, we need to confess our sins and then seek to obey Christ as fully as we can. We cannot change our past but we can work to live by His Word today and in the days to come.

We are living in a culture that often throws out the old for the new. Many people think that the scriptures are obsolete and should be thrown out or ignored. We must hold on to what has eternal value. The purpose of the Law is to highlight our great need for the grace of Christ. We must learn to value what Christ valued. Let me remind you of what Jesus said in Luke 21:33 (NIV) 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

Let us pray.

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