“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
– Matthew 7:12 (Jesus speaking; our 22nd segment of the Sermon on the Mount)
Heading into the close of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus states the principle that animates both the teaching of Moses and His own teaching: what has come to be called the Golden Rule. This reinforces the point you’ll remember that Jesus made near the beginning of the sermon:
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”
– Matthew 5:17
Therefore, Jesus is saying that the Old Testament (“the Law and the Prophets”) and the New Testament (the teaching of Jesus) give a consistent direction for human behavior: treat others the way you want to be treated.
If the teaching of Moses and the teaching of Jesus share this principle, what then is different between the two? The primary difference is the degree to which the principle is applied. The purpose of the teaching of Moses was much more limited than was the purpose of the teaching of Jesus.
God’s purpose through Moses was to establish a nation from a tribe of slaves. The families descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had been enslaved by the Egyptians to complete public works projects. These slaves had no government of their own, no legal code to guide them, no supporting institutions that a nation normally has. The Law of Moses gave structure and direction to Abraham’s descendants so that they could take their place among the nations of the earth. God’s purpose for this nation was to experience life with Him, record those experiences, and record also promises God would continue to make about a great king (Messiah) who would one day come.
God’s purpose through Jesus was infinitely greater in scope and importance than it was through Moses. God’s purpose through Moses was temporary; His purpose through Jesus was eternal. Jesus was that great king (Messiah) that God had promised. The teaching of Moses was to shape and guide a nation until its great king could come; the teaching of Jesus was to shape and guide the universe as well as every human heart for all eternity.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord Jesus, You don’t want to dictate my thoughts, but You do want to guide them…(this is where you remain quiet to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)