Spirit or Rule of Law?

by James Washington

Special to the NNPA from The Dallas Weekly

This means more to me now than when it was written back in the day. Have you ever wondered how a lawyer feels, who knows his or her client is guilty of a crime, but is able to get that person off based on a legal technicality? According to our legal system, the person is innocent. But actually that person is as guilty as, shall we say, sin. I’ve come to believe this must have been one of the most important issues being debated by the traditional Jew of Christ’s time and those early Christians who chose to follow Him. I think this is probably the focal point of what got Him crucified and the focal point of many a debate today.

You see Jesus was trying to get the Pharisees and the Sadducees to understand that the will of God was more important than the strict traditional interpretation of the Laws of Moses. They, the lawyers of the day, were more interested in being right than being moral. “…Thus you nullify the Word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” Matthew 15:6-9. Over and over again throughout the New Testament Jesus tells us He is the fulfillment of the Law. He is the embodiment of God’s Word. He is the point, not the rule. The point of law is to protect the innocent, punish the guilty and thereby preserve the social and political order of man. Technicality or not, the law was never intended to let a murderer go free.

The point of God’s Word is that Christ is indeed His Son, raised from the dead, who died for our original sin and through whom we have obtained everlasting life. Out of love and compassion for our fellow man, out of service in God’s name, out of honoring Him will we, too, fulfill our purpose here on earth. Law or no law, the Word of God was never intended to punish the pure of heart when acting on behalf of the Almighty. So Jesus was constantly at odds with the religious scholars of His times (you know, church folk) about the literal interpretation of the Law of Moses versus the righteous activities of serving the Lord. Hence his parables were constantly illustrating to those who would listen that, yes, you might be right, but according to the will of God, what’s your point?

Have you ever been around people who just had to be right all the time? Regardless of the situation or the circumstances, their need to be right and have you acknowledge their ‘rightness’ superseded all logic, all common sense or sense of purpose. Can’t you hear Jesus imploring the traditionalists with, “Okay! You’re right. Technically I shouldn’t be healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, feeding the hungry and teaching the gospel on the Sabbath. But what are you arguing about? Why are you so angry? I’m merely doing my Daddy’s will. It seems you’re more interested in being politically correct than you are in bringing the righteous closer to God So what you gone do, crucify me? PULEASE!”

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it; ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40. It sounds simple enough. But watch your back if you choose to live this creed. Play by the rules. But remember. Don’t ever forget the point!

May God bless and keep you always,


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