by David Murray
The law exalts Jesus?
Is the law not the enemy of Jesus?
Yes, if used wrongly, if used as a means of getting to Jesus by obeying it. But not if it’s used rightly, if used as God intended it to be used. For example, here are ten ways the law exalts Jesus.
1. An Exhibition of Christ’s Character: A person’s words tell us a lot about him. As Jesus is God’s eternal Word, who equally with the Father and the Spirit inspired God’s written Word, and also became God’s enfleshed Word, the law reveals the Son’s character as well as the Father’s and the Spirit’s
2. An Exposition of Jesus’ Life: The 10 Commandments tell us what Jesus’ life was like toward God and toward man, what He was like inwardly and outwardly.
3. An Example of Jesus’ Teaching: Jesus’ first sermon was on the moral law. He did not simply repeat it, but amplified, enhanced, and extended it.
4. An Examination in Jesus’ Light: The law shines the holy light of Christ into our lives, exposing our sin, convicting us, and showing our need of Christ and His obedience.
5. An Explanation of Christ’s Death: The law not only shows us our need for Jesus’ death but also explains the nature of it. If we look at it from the human viewpoint, the death of Jesus was the greatest act of lawlessness ever perpetrated. If we look at it from the divine viewpoint we see the justice of the law being executed.
6. The Extent of Jesus’ Death: Just as the law was concerned with reversing the effects of sin on the whole creation, so, in some significant ways, Jesus’ death reversed the creation-wide effects of sin. Though not intended to save every sinner in the world, Jesus’ death did have as one of its ultimate aims the restoration of order and life to a disordered and dying world.
7. The Execution of Jesus’ Judgment: The penalties attached to the law and their execution anticipate the final judgment that will fall on the disobedient and the ungodly.
8. The Enjoyment of Jesus’ Presence: Obeying the law did not and could not save, but it was linked to the Lord’s felt presence and the flourishing and enjoyment of spiritual life in the saved soul (Lev. 26:12; John 14:21).
9. An Entrance into Jesus’ Home: The law gives us an insight into a community that will only ever be perfectly established in heaven. There we will see the law’s order perfectly and beautifully honored and practiced – holy worship, holy rest, holy relationships, holy conversation, holy everything and everyone.
10. The Exaltation of Jesus’ Glory: The law exalts Jesus in the believer’s mind and heart by giving us a clearer sight of our need of Christ and also of the perfection of His obedience.
Let’s use the law as a friend, not as an enemy. Let’s use it as God intended, to magnify and honor Jesus in our lives.
David Murray is Professor of Old Testament & Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary.