Jesus preached love and mercy not the law. Part 1

Many people who proclaim that we remain under the law given through Moses often claim that Jesus preached the law to the Jews and his followers. They state that as Jesus preached the law it clearly shows that Jesus endorsed the law.

However when we actually look at what Jesus taught we will see that it was not in fact the law but love,mercy and compassion. Jesus most certainly used the law in his teachings but his focus was always beyond the letter of the law and he often contrasted the law against love and mercy. He always pointed to the truth about the father who is love.

1 John 4-8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

The law asked for sacrifice and burnt offerings but God does not want these things. He desires mercy and the knowledge of him.

Hosea 6-6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

God has no delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices that are offered by the law. 

Hebrews 10-5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6  In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.

Hebrews 10-8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;

These things were not required by God.

Psalm40-6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required

We see that loving God with all our heart and loving our neighbour is better than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.

Mark 12-33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

Jesus even quotes Hosea 6-6 and tells the Pharisees to study what it means.

Matthew 9-13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Later Jesus reiterates that the Pharisees did not understand the meaning of the verse. 

Matthew 12-7 But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.

The Pharisees however, just like the law advocates of today have failed to understand this. MERCY and not sacrifice. When you focus on the law and only the law rather than God who Gave the law you miss the whole point of the law.

A perfect example of Jesus teaching love, mercy and compassion and NOT the law comes from one of the most famous biblical stories, the woman caught in adultery. 

Jesus was in the temple teaching people when the scribes and Pharisees came with a woman that had been caught in the act of adultery. 

John 8- 2And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. 3And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 

The scribes and Pharisees spoke to Jesus telling him that the woman had been caught in the very act of adultery. 

4They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

They called Jesus master which is the Greek διδάσκαλος, didaskalos which is a teacher, instructor master. The scribes and Pharisees recognised Jesus as a teacher. 

The scribes and Pharisees appealed to the law of Moses and stated the law of Moses COMMANDED that she should be stoned as her punishment. As per the law the Pharisees had every “legal” right to do so.  They then asked Jesus what HE had to say regarding her. 

 5Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

There really was no reason to ask Jesus what he thought as they had just called him teacher.  The law clearly stated what they should do. They actually did this to tempt him so that they could use his answer to accuse him. 

 6This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

Having called Jesus teacher they had tried to trap him. In their understanding of the law the ONLY answer Jesus could give seeing he was a teacher was that she should be stoned according to the law that they had just appealed to and had already declared the punishment as set out by the law. Jesus should have answered as per the law that she should be put to death.

But this was NOT what Jesus declared at all. The answer that Jesus gave……something most Christians can easily recite was “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her”

 7So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 

Now according to the law of Moses, as the scribes and the Pharisees had correctly stated the woman SHOULD have been put to death. This was the punishment for adultery set out by the law.

Leviticus 20-10 And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

The response of Jesus however was NOT that the woman should be put to death but Jesus rather turned the judgement back onto them that were making the accusation. 

Jesus had explained that those who judge by the law will be judged in the same manner, by the law.

Matthew 7- 1Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 

This is something that Paul reiterates in the book of Romans. Paul states that those that condemn others using the law condemn themselves. 

Romans 2-1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

Jesus had earlier stated that the Pharisees did not keep the law. He explained to them how they broke it and then told them to judge NOT according to the appearance but righteous judgement. 

John 7-19Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me? 20The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee? 21Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel. 22Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man. 23If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day? 24Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

Only those that were righteous could Judge another unrighteous

Jesus tells us to look at the beam in our own eye before worrying about the speck in our brothers eye. 

Luke 6- 41And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 42Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.

It is hypocritical to accuse another while you yourself stand condemned by the very law that you condemn them with.

This was something the people who were there clearly understood as one by one they simply left, convicted of their own conscience,  their own sins and unable to cast that first stone. They were unable to condemn her using the very law they had appealed to without condemning themselves in the process, leaving Jesus alone with the woman.

8And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 

When Jesus looked up Jesus saw only the woman stood in front of him. Jesus asked her where her accusers were and had no man condemned her.

10When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee

Condemn is the Greek word  κατακρίνω katakrinó meaning judge worthy of punishment

No man had judged her worthy of punishment. No man was able to condemn the woman according to the law without also condemning themselves according to the law. 

The woman replied that no man had condemned her, Jesus then continues and says to the woman that neither did he condemn her.

11She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Again the Greek word condemn is κατακρίνω katakrinó. Jesus stating that HE did not judge her worthy of punishment. 

However, according to the LAW she was guilty and the punishment according to that same law,  the law that the scribes and Pharisees had appealed to, was for her to be stoned. Although they were not without sin, Jesus was without sin, he could have cast the first stone and be fully justified by the law in doing so. In fact had Jesus actually obeyed the law as it is so often purported that he did, he SHOULD have condemned her, found her guilty of punishment and cast the first stone as the law specifically stated that was to be her punishment. Jesus as per the law was in fact required to do so and so in not condemning her according to the law Jesus failed to follow the letter of the law. 

But Jesus was in fact teaching beyond the law. Jesus was not teaching judgement or condemnation instead Jesus was teaching love, mercy and compassion. 

Jesus stated that we should judge not and we would not be judged, condemn not and we would not be condemned. 

Luke 6-37Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

This would be NOT to judge and condemn according to the law. Jesus stated NOT to judge and condemn according to the law.

Notice very importantly that Jesus immediately after saying this proclaimed forgiveness. This is something he clearly did with the woman. He forgave her and did not judge her. 

Jesus had not come into the world to condemn it but to save it

John 3-17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Jesus very clearly stated just 4 verses after telling the woman that he did not condemn her that the Pharisees judged after the FLESH. They judged according to the law, as humans who lived in the flesh under the law rather than the spirit.  But that he, Jesus, judged no man.

John 8- 15Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.

Jesus though, states that had he judged his judgement would have been true.

John 8- 16 And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.

But there is no condemnation in Christ. Christ had not come to condemn. 

Romans 8-1There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Unlike the Pharisees who could look no further than the law,  God looks at the heart 

1 Samuel 16-7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

Jesus taught love rather than the law because as Paul states love fulfills the law. Love no evil to his neighbour.

Romans 13- 8Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

While the Pharisees wanted to abide by the letter of the law and kill the woman, Jesus showed the woman compassion, love and forgiveness. Something that is so often missed by those that cannot look beyond the written law.