We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. Jesus is talking to His disciples and the crowds about the kingdom of God.
“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.”
Luke 16:16 NIV
In the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus, a new focus has emerged. The Law and the Prophets were the main points of religious teaching until that time. Now there’s an emphasis on the kingdom of God.
The religious leaders are not too happy about this. They could get around some of the Law of Moses. They were experts in the loopholes allowing them to do as they pleased, all the while keeping the facade of holiness.
The kingdom of God is about relationship with God. It’s not about a set of rules made by men. The Law is a set of unchanging commands.
“It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.”
Luke 16:17 NIV
The Law of Moses is unchanging and impersonal. It doesn’t care who you are. It doesn’t make any exceptions because of your situations, weaknesses, or what you happen to be going through at the moment.
The Law doesn’t have the power to help you. It doesn’t give you any support to live an overcoming life. It’s just there to point out the sin that you’re wrestling with on a daily basis.
Jesus gives the Pharisees an example.
“Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
Luke 16:18 NIV
This seems to be a random verse, stuck in here for no reason. But, there’s a truth that Jesus is trying to get across to the Pharisees. The Law doesn’t care about your situation.
At one point the Pharisees came to Jesus and questioned Him about the issue of divorce. I covered this a while back as we were going through the Gospel of Mark. The details are in Mark 10:1-12.
The religious leaders enjoyed this “divorce loophole”. The Law allowed for a husband to give his wife a certificate of divorce. That was the Law. What was God’s view?
That was clear throughout Scripture.
“I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the Lord Almighty.
Malachi 2:16 NIV
That’s the difference between serving God by following the rules and life in the kingdom. We all want to know the rules. Rules are easier than maintaining a relationship.
There are Christians who live this way. They’ve boiled Christianity down to a set of man-made rules. Don’t drink, don’t smoke, go to church, give your tithes, etc. They follow the rules, then live for themselves the rest of the time.
A relationship with God is harder to maintain. In any relationship there’s shared responsibility. I have to find out what my partner likes or doesn’t like. My goal is to live in such a way that we grow together.
That’s what the kingdom of God is like. It’s not about rules. I must seek what pleases God and what displeases Him. I need to allow His Holy Spirit to work in me. I must hear Him, trust Him, and obey Him.
This is why many marriages break down. They don’t cultivate relationship. They think that as long as they’re doing what they’re supposed to do (following the rules), then the marriage is strong. They realize too late that when the relationship breaks down, the marriage soon follows.
Don’t turn your Christian walk into a set of rules. Legalism is a dead-end street full of frustration and guilt. Cultivate a strong relationship with Christ through the Holy Spirit. That’s the key to fulfillment.
Question: How strong is your relationship with Christ?
© 2022 Nick Zaccardi