When Jesus the Messiah walked the earth He never committed a sin. The Word made flesh cannot contradict the written Word of God. God cannot contradict God. The Son cannot disobey the Father.
Rest assured, Believer, your Savior was and is fully obedient and submissive to His Father’s will in every way and every form.
So what was going on then between Jesus and the Pharisees, Sadducees, and even some of the Synagogue Rulers? Why the constant debates and discussions? Why the disagreements?
Some of it was simply Middle Eastern culture. We in America hate conflict. In the Middle East conflict is second nature. Debates and hard discussions are the norm. Middle Easterners are a passionate people who hold their opinions tightly and will debate hotly, especially with their closest friends.
Some of it was simply Jewish culture. The Scriptures were and are very important to the Jewish people. Too important to simply read and assume you understood exactly what it meant. The Rabbis would spend hours debating subjects while their disciples listened trying to learn and understand. Even the “layman” of his day knew much of the Hebrew Scriptures by heart and would gladly ask questions and learn from a visiting Rabbi. The Bible was their life. They wanted to know what it said and what it meant. So… you discuss, and debate, and sometimes disagree.
Do you know the Hebrew word ‘Torah’? It means ‘teaching’ and ‘instruction.’ The picture behind the word is like a bow and arrow shooting at a target, you are aiming for something. And the aim of Torah is life. The purpose of God’s instructions is to give life.
Torah is a word that can be used to refer to several different things and one definition is the Hebrew Bible (what we call the Old Testament). It can also refer to the first five books of Moses, the Pentateuch, and even more specifically the actual commands of Moses, the instructions God gave through Moses on Mt. Sinai.
Two Torahs: Written and Oral
Stick with me. There is the written Torah (the Scriptures) and an Oral Torah. The oral Torah was to help explain the written Torah. For instance, the written Torah says “do no work on the Sabbath.” But what exactly is work? Is it ok to walk the dog, wash the car, use my cell phone, light a fire? Is it ok to save a life? The oral Torah was created to help understand and explain the written commands so that they could be obeyed.
Gradually there came to be agreement on what the commands meant and how to specifically obey them but during the days of Jesus the opinions were wide and varied.
Let me be clear on this – the oral Torah is not on equal standing with the written Torah. The oral Torah is man-made and was created to help explain and protect the written Torah which is God-made. Its purpose was to help obey God’s commands, but sometimes the oral Torah got in the way. People are not perfect and even when trying to help other’s obey God’s commands personal opinion can become too important.
Man-made Vrs. God-made
Jesus actually kept oral Torah. He was a good Jewish man and followed the rules and opinions of His elders. Except when the oral Torah got in the way of the written commands. Whenever Jesus and another person or group got into a debate and He was accused of something, it was always of breaking oral Torah, NEVER the written.
Was it ok to heal on the Sabbath? Is healing someone an act of work? The Bible never specifically says. Some religious leaders said yes healing was acceptable because the sabbath was made for man. Other leaders said no, healing was work. It was ok to save a life but a basic healing could wait until the next day.
Jesus belonged to the group that said healing was ok on the Sabbath because the Sabbath was made for man, to let man rest and be set free from burdens of this world and take time to worship God. What better day to set a man free than on the Sabbath.
NO SIN HERE
While walking this earth Jesus did not sin. He never went against the written Word of God. And for the most part, Jesus even obeyed the oral Torah, the man-made boundaries that were created to help the Jewish people obey God’s commands. Jesus was always well within the boundaries of the Judaism of His day.
Debates and discussions were a common part of life for the Jewish person. The Word of God was too important to not discuss and debate in order to better understand it.
Yes, Jesus was willing to put aside the man-made boundaries when they got in the way of serving others. But He never did so flippantly or simply to cause a scene and make a point. He did so out of love, love for His Father and protecting His reputation, love for the person He was serving, and love for the commands and what they were actually meant to bring.
The aim of Torah is Life and the commands of God bring life. We would do well to strive to obey and understand as the Jewish people did.