Last week I introduced a series on the Jewish roots of our faith, we will continue that series this week by talking about the Jewishness of the New Testament. The New Testament is founded on the teachings of Yeshua (Jesus). Jesus was not a Roman, He was a Jew, dressed like a Jew, taught and reiterated the teaching of the Torah to His followers. The only “sermon” Jesus ever gave was what we call the sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus reiterated the Ten Commandments.
To establish the Jewishness of the New Testament we must first find out the purpose of God for this new covenant. We find that purpose in Jeremiah 31:31-33 NKJV “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah – (32) “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them says the Lord. (33) but this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.””
Law in this passage is the Torah which means teaching. As we looked at last week, we must distinguish between the teaching of God and the law of God found in the sacrificial system. Jesus came and fulfilled the sacrificial system but taught that the teaching of God is beautiful and should be followed. We can find legalism in both Judaism and Christianity. Any form of legalism and religion out of force and not love is gross to us and gross to God. Biblical Judaism, the Judaism that Jesus taught is beautiful and is for us. It is important to note that Jesus and His disciples were all Jewish, His audience was Jewish. We don’t even see Gentiles having an active role in the Church till Acts chapter ten. Next week will look at seeing the Bible as one but for now we will establish the Jewishness of the new covenant.
Again going back to the sermon on the Mount, Jesus took each of the Ten Commandments and made them about the heart attitude and not action alone, this is what Jeremiah was speaking of when he said the Torah would be written on the hearts and in the minds of God’s people.
The New Testament must be a Jewish book based on Jesus being a Jewish rabbi, the books being written by Jews and Luke if he was not born into Judaism was a convert. Many scholars have said that Jesus only read a Greek Bible and spoke Greek so He really didn’t embrace Judaism, this is false, whether He read a Greek translation of the Bible or not does not negate the fact He was a Jewish rabbi and taught the Torah.
It is also important to note that as we read the New Testament we remember that Jesus and the disciples never broke an instruction of the Torah. When religious leaders got mad at Jesus for healing on the Sabbath or for the disciples plucking grain, or for eating with sinners, the only thing that happened was that Jesus violated a personal interpretation not the actual Torah.
Mark 2:27-28 NKJV “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath (28) Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” It is interesting to note how many miracles were done on the Sabbath, I believe this is because Jesus wanted to show how much He cares as well as draw a connection point to God’s command of rest which came from love and the healing of the body.
When new wine and old wineskins are talked about in Scripture Jesus is making Judaism not about ritual but relationship. At the time of Jesus everyone was still relying on Priests to make sacrifices, Jesus was saying there is coming a time when it will no longer be about sacrificial ritual but open relationship with God.
Look at this prophecy in Amos 9:11-12 NKJV “On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which had fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up the ruins, and will rebuild it in the days of old; (12) That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the LORD who does this thing.” This is what Jesus did through the death and resurrection, He restored the tabernacle of David. In the tabernacle there was no middle wall separating Jew and Gentile. Jesus, the Jewish rabbi came to restore the unity of nations and bring back free access to God. This is why the veil in the temple was torn in half, this is why Paul said because Jesus our Passover lamb was sacrificed we celebrate the feast in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8.
Paul was accused of forsaking the Torah and they both said he had not offended in one area; Acts 25:8 NKJV “while he answered for himself, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended at anything at all.”
No Jew forsook the Torah when they followed Messiah and Gentiles who were converted attended Synagogue and celebrated the feasts. This is not about legalism but receiving the beauty and blessing of Biblical Judaism in our lives, receiving the very things Jesus taught. For years all the early Church had was the Old Testament, it was their Bible. Even our New Testament contains 484 passages from the Old Testament cited a total of 695 times. Think of that. We wouldn’t even be able to have a New Testament without the first covenant and as Galatians says, we have been grafted in to the seed of Abraham, Romans tells us the root supports us we do not support the root.
The New Testament is thoroughly a Jewish book and next week we will look at how the Old and New Testaments are connected not separated. As we read the New testament let’s see the beauty of God’s teachings through its words. Let’s remember Jesus made it about the heart, let’s remember that is what the New Covenant is, not a doing away with the Torah, but the writing of it being placed upon our hearts and in our minds.