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The Ten Commandments Vs The Sermon On The Mount
Recent Articles - Churches
Wednesday, 12 November 2008 00:00

I believe there are deliberate similarities between the story of Moses coming down from the mountain and delivering the Ten Commandments to the children of Israel in the desert, and the story of Jesus going up on a mountain to deliver his Commandments to his disciples in his famous "Sermon on the Mount".

It is important to understand that Jesus is the new Moses delivering a NEW covenant. Although Jesus is building on the foundations of Moses and the ten commandments, it is clear that as the Son of God, Jesus is GREATER than Moses, and has the right and authority to correct and improve on what Moses had given.

Many times in the Sermon, Jesus says, "You have heard it was said (in the Old Testament...) "BUT I SAY" (something new). Moses was fallible, but through Jesus, God takes faith to a new level. The Ten Commandments delivered through Moses were an improvement on the Egyptian law; but this Old Testamant law was still incomplete until the time was right for Jesus to enter history.

The average churchgoer is not taught to obey the commands of Jesus. Emphasis is placed on Jesus' sacrificial death, and the forgiveness of sins (which is fine), but anything that Jesus commands his followers to do is avoided. Any suggestion that what Moses gave might be imperfect, and not the eternal will of God, is considered heresy. But the teachings of Jesus are brushed casually aside for any number of reasons. So the true heretics (or fools, as Jesus calls them at the end of the Sermon on the Mount) are those who hear Jesus' teachings and refuse to obey them (Matt 7:26 ). People who do and teach what Jesus says will be considered great in the Kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:19 ) Note that some translations for this verse say that those who do and teach the Old Testament Law shall be great, and they completely miss that Jesus is introducing and talking about his OWN commands, which he is about to deliver further on in the chapter. There is a stubborn blind spot here among translators which results in pulling people's attention away from Jesus and back to the Old Testament Consequently, whenever we hear reference to "commands" (as something to be obeyed), we immediately think of the Ten, and not anything that Jesus' commands. At the same time, if we read something about the imperfections of the "law", we are often told that it includes the teachings of Jesus.

If what Moses had given was perfect, then there would not have been any need for Jesus to come and bring something better. Paul was pretty clear on this. But religious people (both then and now) do not want something better. They are happy with the old system, and do not want anyone to threaten their monopoly over it.

No one can deny that the moral standards set in the Sermon on the Mount are far higher than what was required under Moses. In fact some people argue that they are so high, that God must have deliberately made them impossibly hard, so that people would give up and not try to keep them! Some (Gentiles, of course) say that they are only for Jewish Christians. Or they argue that these teachings will only be followed when Jesus returns during the millenium. Until then they say that the Ten commandments are sufficient.

I do not think it is reasonable to suggest that Jesus gave us teachings that he knew were impossible to keep. John says in his epistle that Jesus' commands are not grievious. I believe that we are promised supernatural assistance in following these commands, and that God is able to help us overcome temptation; but even when we fall short, it does not give us an excuse to give up.

To conclude, let us follow Jesus (our new Moses) obediently, through the desert and into the Promised Land. While the standards of the gospels are higher than that required of the Jews, God offers us greater spiritual power (the Holy Spirit) to assist us in obeying him. The commands and his forgiveness work as two sides of the same coin in our spiritual development. One cannot work without the other. I believe we as Jesus Christians are proclaiming this significant truth to a whole generation of spiritually confused people. It seems that this is the narrow way that few can find or even comprehend without some kind of supernatural enlightenment.

We must continue to uphold this truth, even though only a few will ever understand and accept it.

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