Thursday: Law Enforcement

(Matt 5:17-20)

As we have seen, Jesus was a faithful citizen who fulfilled His responsibilities as a Jewish male, even when His life was in danger (see, for example, John 7:1, 25-26; 10:31). In fact, Jesus makes it clear that it was not His purpose to abolish the Law or the Prophets (Matt. 5:17-20, NKJV).

Image © Pacific Press from

Image © Pacific Press from

How, then, are we to understand John 8:1-11 and Matthew 19:1-9 in light of Deuteronomy 22:23-24 and 24:1-4? What is happening here?

Some of the Pharisees were always trying to expose Jesus as a lawbreaker (see, for example, John 8:6).When they present Him with the woman who was caught in the act of adultery, they pose this question: Moses says she should be stoned, what do You say? Interestingly enough, Jesus does not directly respond to their inquiry. In fact, He affirms the law of Moses with His response, He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first (John 8:7, NKJV). He isn’t saying that she shouldn’t be stoned; He simply forces these men to see their own violations of the law. Even the woman’s release is in harmony with the law of Moses, because there is none to point an accusing finger, and at least two witnesses are needed to administer justice (Deut. 17:6).

In the incident concerning divorce and remarriage, Jesus appears to contradict the law of Moses with His insistence that there were originally no grounds for divorce (Matt. 19:4-6). When the Pharisees point to Moses’ commandment in Deuteronomy 24:1-4, Jesus places everything in perspective. Nowhere does Moses command that divorce should take place. However, because of the people’s obstinacy, Moses made an allowance for divorce (Matt. 19:8). Thus, we see that even when Jesus critiques a Mosaic law, He does not set it aside. Jesus was a faithful Jew in every way, adhering to the laws of Moses.

How do we learn to balance justice and grace for those who, like ourselves, fall into sin? If we are going to err, as we as fallen beings inevitably do, what side is it better to err on, and why?



Thursday: Law Enforcement — 16 Comments

  1. Is no one going to answer the last question on Monday's lesson. I would like to hear your thoughts on it.

  2. What is the difference between an "allowance" and a "setting aside"?

    I've always been concerned about the idea that the hardness of the people's hearts brought about an "allowance" (as we call it). Does that mean that if we're stubborn enough we'll get a legitimate variation in any law?

    It seems so even to this day.

  3. Question...Should a divorce man and a divorce woman join together or fall in love with each other and gets married?

    • Jenny, my answer is yes. Once they are divorced they are single again. I am not a theologian though.

    • Divorce/remarriage is a very difficult subject to deal with...not because the scriptures are unclear, but because discussion so often sets off some deep emotions. There are so many who have gone down that track...even in the church there are many who have been divorced and remarried. Is their marriage sacred and acceptable in the eyes of God? Only God knows the heart...the reasons for the divorce in the first place.
      But even fornication or adultery need not be used as a reason for divorce...anything can be forgiven...and God can heal the pain.

  4. The Pharisees were hoping that Jesus would answer the question on divorce in the same way that John the Baptist did, and suffer the same death like John the Baptist. But Jesus did not answer the question based on Rabbinic custom, but rather from the account of Creation and God's original design.
    Jesus did not condemned the woman caught in adultery as the Pharisees would have liked, but Jesus instead, wrote a counteraccusation to the Accusers, ''the sins of each of them''. Also according to Deuteronomy 22 :23-24 both Male and Female were to be present for the trial, but the evil Pharisees distorted the law by bringing only the woman. There being no witness or witnesses only Accusers, Jesus dismissed the case and told her,'' neither do I, Jesus, condemned you, go and sin no more''. Jesus can read our hearts and know if we are good or evil.

  5. In trying to strike the balance of justice and grace, grace should be used more often. If God had set us all to strict standards of moral justice, we would all be dead due to our frequent sins. But God continues to be gracious unto us, and we are to be like Him. Therefore, we should treat someone who has commited sin with grace, for we too are sinful creatures.

  6. To the Sister wanting an answer to Mondays question. Things one can do to keep God real are
    - keep God before you. Talk to Him every day (prayer) learn something more of Him each day (bible study - memorise scripture) commune with Him ( in nature if you don't have access to parks or safe bush land learn about nature some facts of it for it is God's creation) read daily about the last days of Christ's life for He came to show us the Father; know what God has done for you personally and tell this (your testimony) to others. In everything you do and what life brings you, learn to see God's hand in it. Give God the glory in all things and have a spirit of gratitude then you can begin to do what he asks of us as pointed out earlier - to practice pure religion and undefiled James 1:27 Eccles.12:13. As for actual congregational practices we only have ordinance of humility and baptism. Leading others to baptism will keep the reality of God before you. Christmas and Easter when really understood will have no place in a Christian's life. They are pagan mixed with Christianity to make them acceptable to unsuspecting and ignorant Christians. Keeping any or all Jewish feasts is a denial of Christ, His life, death, resurrection and work in the heavenly sanctuary and imminent return.

  7. I always find the human society so partriochal. Why didn't Mary Magdalene accusers come with the man with whom she was caught in the act. And again in the African society it's such a big deal for a woman to commit adultery but it's lightly condemned when it's a man. Polygamy is also so tolerated?

  8. Jesus is still reminding us today how sinful we are. We spend time accusing others about their sins ignoring ours. Also Jesus is teaching us that the only way we can enforce the law effectively is when we make ourselves clean. We can't make ourselves clean as we are always sinners. Jesus does that job for everybody making all of us equal

  9. The question of morality is one we have to approach with extreme caution. Those who brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus did not take time to examine their lives before dragging the woman and marking her for death. In their minds, it was more important to protect the reputation of the church than to live a righteous life. As Adventist, when someone errs in the church, we have to confront them iin love and empathy. However, we do have to call sin by it's rightful name even if it does not sound politically correct. Jesus was more concerned about the motive of the law than merely adhering to the letter of the law. No wonder the religious leaders hated Him so much; for he constantly pointed out the inconsistency of their lives.

  10. Attempting to answer monday last question, I,d say: Justice is arrived at through interpretation of law. There must me soneone with high moral standard ( in church setting a pastor in goverment setting, magistrate or a judge) to tell the accused that s/he is on the wrong side of the law. The aim is to determine whether the law is broken and the sort of redress needed. If truely the law is broken and an award is given to the offender that is called Justce. In most common law jurisdictions justice must be served or seen as been served. There is no grace in doing justice. Justice and grace their incompatible. Because the church is not an enforcement agent of the moral law it has only one duty, to remind the offender(sinner) that we,re all offenders in need of God,s grace. So let us go to the house of the Lord, he will teach us, law, justice and mercy. It is better to err while in the house of the Lord (Church community) than err without the church where there is no grace/mercy.


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