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Ethics & Religion
Column #1,891
Nov. 16, 2017
(first of two parts)
"Jesus In the Court Room" - Part I
By Mike McManus

Isaiah prophesied 701 years before Jesus was born: "To us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)

John W. Mauck, a Chicago religious liberty attorney, has written a penetrating book, Jesus in the Courtroom, which explores how "Jesus, our Wonderful Counselor, stands ready to help us understand the seemingly impenetrable and often frustrating areas of God's Law, human law and lawyers."

We normally think of Jesus as an inspiring teacher, or as a counselor advising how to live a moral life.

However, Mauck reveals how Jesus taught God's Law and also "modeled how that understanding should both inform and reform human law. He is "Jesus in the Courtroom."

In Jesus' time, the Sadducees and Pharisees, were religious leaders, but they were actually "what we today would call lawyers, lawmakers, judges or politicians," Mauck explains.

For example, they ask questions like a "law faculty:" A Pharisee asked Jesus, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"

Jesus replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all you soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, "Love you neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hand on these two commandments." (Matt. 22:34-40)

A Pharisee asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"

Jesus replied, "Haven't you read that at the beginning the Creator `made then male and female,' and said `For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."

"Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?"

"Jesus replied, `Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery." (Matthew 19: 3-9)

Mauck describes three principles here. First, Jesus is teaching "the fundamental importance of marriage as an institution created by God." Second, Jesus addresses "man's fallenness/sinfulness/hardness of heart in context with the purposes of God, the merciful." Third, Jesus "mediated the harsh result of putting the woman on the street. Jesus humanized."

The Pharisees brought him a woman caught in adultery, and said "in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" Jesus replied, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." One after another walked away, leaving Jesus with the woman alone.

"Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir," she said.

"Then neither do I condemn you." Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin." (John 8: 2-11)

Mauck asserts that the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus. For they brought him only the woman, when the Law commands that both the adulterous man and woman should be put to death. (Lev 20:10) "Jesus as a legal defender/advocate leads the woman's accusers to disqualify themselves."

These examples show "Jesus functioned as a lawyer, advocate and judge, but also reinforce that the ultimate purpose of the Law, or Torah, is to lead humans to love both God and neighbor. The lawyers of Jesus' day had lost sight of this," Mauck writes.

The author concedes that many people today do not believe in the Bible. Some rebel against all law. They don't want anyone else telling them what to do. However, Mauck argues that "a life committed to living for truth...will find that Messiah Jesus, the Wonderful Counselor, is the one true path to life."

On the night he was betrayed, Jesus promised His disciples, "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever." (John 14:16) He said "the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (14:26)

Mauck concludes that as Jesus' disciples "we carry on His ministry by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Next week's column will provide contemporary examples of Jesus working today. ___________________________________

Copyright (c) 2017 Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist. For previous columns go to  www.ethicsandreligion.org. Hit Search for any topic.

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