I wonder what you find irresistible. Great food, great TV, location, holiday destination? Have you ever found a person irresistible? That one who stole your heart, a great leader that inspired you or a wise family member?
In first century Palestine there was a person who caused a great stir, they crowded one to see him, flocked to listen to him. People found him irresistible, they were drawn to him even if they hated what he was saying, they couldn’t resist listening to him.
You don’t have to be a Christian to recognise that this is true of that man - Jesus. It is a matter of historical record. But let’s be honest sometimes the people that claim to follow him and the church that bear his name is very resistible. Why is that?
In this series we are going to unpack why that might be and see if we can rediscover Irresistible and we continue today by talking about a new agreement.
Have you ever got tired of trying to live up to a set of rules or regulations? Ever felt exhausted by feeling like you have to fulfill a set of obligations? Ever felt that the Christian faith is just a set of rules and regulations or expectations and it sounds or feels very resistible?
Jesus challenged the religious practice of making rules the primary focus and he instigated a whole new agreement that was based on a different way of doing things. He set out what that new agreement would be like in what we now know as the Sermon on the Mount. It is recorded for us by Matthew - an eyewitness to the life of Jesus. We are looking at (Matthew Chapter 5 verses 13 to 22)[https://my.bible.com/bible/113/MAT.5.NIVUK).
By saying “do not think” in verse 17 Jesus is countering the suspicion that he was going to do away with the old Scriptures and what had gone before. But he does say he has come to fulfill them. Jesus was showing deference to the rules of the old agreement (covenant) but he was also very clear that something new was happening. The word fulfill here literally means to render full, to fill up completely or to complete. The old system was complete.
The new thing that Jesus had come to instigate was not based on an outward appearance and an adherence to a set of laws, rules, regulations and rituals. The new way was not dependent on that but on Jesus himself. It isn’t about outward standards of behaviour but on the inner motivation of the heart.
The new is superior in every way to the old and woe betide us if we try to revert back to the old by insisting on rules, rituals, codes of conduct, expectations and standards of behaviour as the way to encounter God. Those things are exhausting and highly resistible. The old way said do these things and you might get to mete God. The way of Jesus says meet God and everything else will follow.
There is a new agreement on offer to us from God and the great news is that it is completely free and doesn’t depend on us. As a church and if you’re a Christian let’s make sure that we are pointing people to this new agreement because it is irresistible.
Questions for Reflection
Have you ever tried to keep rules and regulations or live up to other poeple’s expectations of you? Did you find it tiring? Is it happening for you right now?
What was good about the old agreement (covenant)? How had it helped the people of God?
What do you think the religious people made of Jesus’ proclamation that he had come to fulfill the old laws and Scriptures?
What does it mean for Jesus to have rendered the old agreement complete?
What are the markers of the new agreement that Jesus came to begin?
What does it mean to meet God first and that everything else follows from that? Do you think it is a licence to do whatever we want?
- How can you make sure you are pointing people to the irresistible nature of this new agreement and not the highly resistible nature of the old?