The Lesser Gives Way To The Greater

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.John 8-36There are some Christians who are holding on to the Law as the right way to follow Christ. If you listen to them speak, they focus on the law so much, you begin to wonder, “you do realize, Christ has come, yes?”

Some often use Jesus words in Matthew 5:18, “For I say unto you, until heaven and earth pass, not one jot or one tittle shall pass from the law, until all be fulfilled.” But Jesus said in verse 17, “I have not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it.” So either Jesus did what He said He has done, or He is not telling the truth. I want us to understand which is greater, which brings life, and where we are to be found. John wrote,

The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

There should be no debate that Moses, no matter how amazing he was, is a servant of God, and not God. But just to be clear, the author of Hebrews writes, “And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are. (Hebrews 3:5-6) If we come back to John we read, “And the servant does not abide in the house forever: but the Son abides forever.” (John 8:35) And Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many places: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2) So we see that Jesus is the Son over His own house, and He prepares a place for us, and we are His house. We also understand that the servant does not abide forever, nor what the servant represents.

There is another picture of this transition we are looking at with the birth of Christ. There was an old man, Simeon, who “would not see death until Christ would come”. Simeon is a Greek derivative from the Hebrew word, “shema,” which means to “hear”. It is the single word the Jewish people use to describe the Law and it comes from Deuteronomy 6:4, “Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad,” or, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:”

When Jesus was born, Joseph and Mary bring him to the temple. There, in Luke 2, we see this old man, Simeon, who had been waiting for the coming Messiah. Simeon, whose name means to “hear” is a picture of the Law. He would stay in service until the greater would come. Just as we read in John, the servant does not abide in the house forever, but the Son abides forever, so we see Simeon declare,

“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation (Yeshua) Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” Luke 2:29-32

The law beheld Jesus and understood it’s time had come. The law rejoiced at the coming of the One who would bring salvation to all people. Simeon then blesses Joseph and Mary, but not the baby. Why? The lesser cannot bless the greater. The baby was not just another little boy, but this baby was Salvation, Yeshua, and the One who would fulfill the law and bring salvation to all people. Jesus was greater than the law, therefor the law could only acknowledge Jesus, not bless Him. After Simeon blesses the parents, the law departs the temple, Simeon had seen the Messiah and now went out to die, according to the promise of the Lord. (Luke 2:26)

Immediately after Simeon departs, an old woman, Hannah comes in. Hannah means, “grace.” As soon as the law departed, grace entered. “And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:38)

The law points to the One who will bring salvation, but grace calls to all. Simeon, a type of the law departs upon the arrival of Jesus, but there is no record of Hannah, grace, leaving. It says, “who did not depart from the temple.” (vs 9)

So from these types and from these passages, we see that the lesser gives way to the greater, and the greater has come. Grace has come, my friends, salvation and redemption have come! One cannot have it both ways. We cannot honor the Son and keep the law. If we keep the law, it stands as a whole, we do not get to pick and choose. If we are not under the whole of the law, then we are under grace.

Before the law was given, Israel came out of Egypt and met with God. He called out to them and said, “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me.” (Exodus 19:5) The Voice of God is the person of Jesus. He is calling them to keep His covenant, not law. God was calling them into a faith relationship, but the people said, “No.” So Moses reports the words of the people to the Lord, “And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD has commanded we will do.” (vs 8) The people wanted law over relationship. So God replies, if you want law, this is the way it is… and God immediately sets boundaries of consequence with life or death. (vs 10-13)

What pride, what presumption, what arrogance, what self righteousness to think that man can keep God’s laws, and without even hearing them! Today, there are still those who think that they can keep God’s laws. Only Jesus has fulfilled them.

The Law Disqualifies Us All

There is an amazing passage in Numbers that in one verse sums up nearly all Paul’s conflict in Romans 7.

Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that has an issue of blood or discharge, and whoever is defiled by the dead: You must expel both men and women; you must put them outside the camp, Numbers 5:2-3

This is the law. It is either all-inclusive or non-inclusive. There is no pick and choose. The Old Testament and the law are types and shadows for us today, and here we have a doozie. God specifies male and female: notice the law divides, but makes no exception. In this passage here we are looking at three real life and spiritual conditions.

I am going to look at the spiritual condition for the purpose of our discussion. This passage describes three distinct types of sin, and the judgment is complete and swift. There are no exceptions, no alternatives, and we are all condemned.

The first condition mentioned here is leprosy. In the scripture, leprosy is a type of passive sin. It works in us whether we know it or not, see it or not, believe it or not. It is a condition of our fallen nature, and it is at work in us from birth.
The second condition mentioned is discharge. Discharge is active sin. This is the sin of the mind, sin of the eyes, sin of the mouth such as profanity, vulgarity, gossip, slander, accusation, etc. It also is the sins of action such as theft, abuse, murder, etc. Discharge speaks of visible sin.

Finally we have the defilement of the dead. This is sin by association. Whenever we see sin and excuse it, whenever we keep company with those who sin and do not judge it, keeping of bad company whenever we are associated with a person, action, or place of sin, this is the defilement of the dead.

Wow. Where can we go? Who can we be among? What can we do? We see here that we are without excuse. We have no way out. The judgment of the law is swift and complete, and we are removed from the fellowship and cast out. This is the law of God. It is perfect. It is complete. And under it, all are condemned. All have sinned. (Romans 3:23) As a result, all of us have been put outside the camp. We have all lost relationship with God, and the law cannot provide the means to return. No wonder Paul cried out, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)

Paul then provides us with the answer. “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25) In all that we have looked at, we see that Jesus has come to seek and save all who have been put outside the camp. The Greater has come, and He has come to remove from us the condemnation of the lesser. He has come to bring us to His House.

I want us to look specifically at how Jesus fulfills just this one passage in Numbers 5:2-3. For our review, we are going to look at these points:

1. Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper
2. Every one that has an issue of blood or discharge
3. Whoever is defiled by the dead
4. You must expel both men and women
5. You must put them outside the camp

Notice there are five points? Five is the number of grace! Let’s find out how grace answers the charge of the law against us.

1. Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper

In Mark chapter 1, Jesus sits on a rock at the top of a hill and teaches the Beatitudes. This is where Jesus feeds the five thousand, and teaches several other parables. But there is a back story, a tender story that is a part of this event. While Jesus is teaching, on the side of the mountain in a rock laced ledge there was a man. He might have been a husband and a father, he was certainly someone’s son. He was now a leper, an outcast left to die in his condition under the law. But on this day, Jesus taught of a God of compassion, a God who cared, “Look at these sparrows,” He said, “they do not sow or reap, yet God feeds them. Your Heavenly Father cares more about you. Look at these lilies, how gloriously they are adorned. They are more beautiful than all of Solomon’s possessions, for their beauty come from within. Your Heavenly Father desires to do this in you.” On and on Jesus brought hope, life, and the promise of something better. This leper heard every word!

When Jesus was finished, he left on His way to Capernaum.

And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If you will, you can make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and said unto him, I will; be clean. Mark 1:40-41

Under the law, Jesus could not touch this man. But because the Greater can bless the lesser, Jesus reached out and touched him. He humanized him. He was not an outcast before Jesus. He was deeply loved, and Jesus fulfilled the law of the leper by making him clean. The law condemns us to be outcast, but grace seeks us out, meets our sin straight on and cleanses us, nullifying the claim of death on us from the law.

2. Every one that has an issue of blood or discharge

One day Jesus was passing along a roadside with his disciples, and the crowds pressed in on Him. We read,

Now a woman, having an issue of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped. And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?” When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately. And He said to her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well.” Luke 8:43-48

Once again, the touch of the woman upon Jesus would have condemned them both under the law. But as we have seen with the leper, Jesus is greater than the law. He brought healing to her, nullifying the claim of death from the law. She had spent all her livelihood searching for a cure, and one touch from the Savior brought healing and the opportunity to recover the livelihood she had spent.

3. Whoever is defiled by the dead

One day Jesus went to a city called Nain. Upon entering the city, we witnessed a funeral procession of a young man, a son of a widow. Seeing this widow, knowing that her husband had passed and now her son; knowing she had not only lost her husband and son but also the provision to sustain her, Jesus had compassion on her. Jesus once again met the condition of the law head on. He brought life where there was death. He restored to this house provision and relationship. Jesus canceled the sentence of death and brought what only grace can bring, recovery and life.

Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother. Luke 7:11-15

4. You must expel both men and women

In our passage in Numbers, the law makes a divisive yet still all-inclusive charge. The law creates, almost by its nature a sense of both exclusivity and alienation. Exclusive because it was given to Israel, alienating because neither Jew nor Gentile can keep it. But in God’s House, the House of the Son, we read,

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

There is no status in Christ. There are no levels to attain to, no rules to memorize. We are not brought into Christ upon our own abilities or lack of. We are not accepted on the basis of our own understanding or lack of. We are not accepted based on our performance or lack of. We are accepted because God loved us so much that He gave us grace. (John 3:16)

5. You must put them outside the camp

The result of sin is ultimately separation from God. That separation, by nature is death, suffering, pain, etc. But Jesus came to seek and save the lost. (Luke 19:10) Christ came to fulfill the law, to satisfy the claim the law has on us so that He can bring us back into His House. Jesus said,

In my Father’s house are many places: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. John 14:2

My friend, there is a place for you in the Son’s house. In the Son’s house, the servant has gone out. The law rejoiced at the coming of the Son (Luke 2:29-32) and the Son is seeking for you, calling for you to come Home. Don’t be held in bondage by the claim of the law, don’t let wrong thinking keep you from relating to the Son. Christ has come. This is just one passage that we see Christ fulfilled. The lesser has given way to the Greater!

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36

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