The Law and the prophets, then, are not some Plan A that Jesus is now Plan B for. God didn’t scrap a mistake. Jesus isn’t a do-over. Jesus is the culmination of the hopes cultivated by the Law and the prophets. He is not here to cover their mistakes; he is here to answer their calls to righteousness and deliverance. The Law says, “We are messed up and we need fixing,” and Jesus says, “I know, and I will do that.” The Prophets say, “All we like sheep have gone astray. We are unfaithful. We deserve fiery judgment for all of our sins.” And Jesus says, “I know, and I will save you from that.”
The Law and the prophets are God’s promise to save his people, to enter into history once again and redeem his people, and although the promise kept didn’t look like what was expected, and although his kingdom and his plan were not what many of them would have preferred, Jesus says “I am the promised one. I am the promise.”
This promise kept issues a deeper call, of course, one in which demands are made upon us. This is something else the contemporary Church has conveniently eroded from our teaching on Jesus. We like the whole “forgiveness for sin” thing, and we love that whole grace thing. But we don’t really cotton to the idea of self-crucifixion. We don’t like the idea of dying to ourselves, frankly, because we think we’re pretty good people. We like to think of ourselves as having “issues” or problems. We have personality quirks. But we don’t tend to think of ourselves as sinners who need salvation. We favor ourselves as unsuccessful people who need some tips from Jesus on how to succeed in life. Therefore, because it doesn’t sell very well, we leave off that whole “take up your cross” thing. And we forget that forgiveness of sin calls for blood.
That's another excerpt from my manuscript-in-revision, The Unvarnished Jesus.
I've been teaching for Element for about six months, and yesterday I received my first angry email from someone who left abruptly during a message (I didn't notice). The messenger said my take on the Great Commandment, which is essentially that we should put God and others before ourselves, was upsetting and spiritually abusive. I was told that God thinks we're pretty great people and that if I tell people to put themselves "third," I am going against the biblical command to love ourselves.