Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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The Manner of the Jews
“Therefore, the law is indeed holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”
Paul, in Romans 7:12
“Everyone who commits sin also transgresses the law, for sin is lawlessness.”
John, in 1John 3:4
In John 11, Jesus called for Lazarus to come out of the tomb, and the dead came to life. When Lazarus came out of the pitch blackness of death and walked out into the sunlight again, the poor man could not even see how liberated he was. He could not enjoy the liberty he had been given because his trunk, his hands, and his legs were still wrapped tight in the burial cloths in which the dead were wrapped in those times. You’ll remember that when Jesus died, he was similarly wrapped and that within his linen burial blankets, spices were added to reduce the smell of the corpse as it began to decay. His face, too, was wrapped with a cloth, according to John 20:7.
We are plainly told, in John 19:40, that this way of burying the dead was “the manner of the Jews”. So, when Lazarus’ spirit, at rest in Paradise, heard the voice of the Savior calling him back into its earthly body, then Lazarus returned to a body that was tightly wrapped in spice-filled burial cloths. How that revived body managed to get up from its hewn-out bed while wrapped up, I don’t know, but somehow, Lazarus managed to rise and waddle to the door, where the light of the sun shone upon him again.
Do you remember what Jesus first said when Lazarus came out of the shadows and appeared at the door? He gave a command: “Loose him, and let him go!”
Now, we know that Lazarus was just as alive before they unwrapped the linen burial cloths as he was after they unwrapped him. He was fully alive from the moment his spirit entered into his body again. But it was only when “the manner of the Jews” was removed from him that he was able to experience what life really should be.
On the day of Pentecost, the disciples of Jesus Christ received the life of God and came out of the tomb of human nature, which is dead to the things of God. But “the manner of the Jews” still had them bound. They could not see, though they were alive, the light of the Son that they could feel within them. The arms and legs of their minds were bound by the manner of the Jews in a tight little area of Jewish controlled territory; they could not reach out to the Samaritans and Gentiles. They were alive, and they ministered that life to their fellow Jews, but they still could not fully experience what life in Christ could be because “the manner of the Jews” still had them bound.
Then Jesus called Paul up to the third heaven and commanded him to go loose from “the manner of the Jews” those from the Gentiles whom he would call out of death into life, so that they could live life in the Spirit to its fullest measure, without the hindrance of “the manner of the Jews”.
On the day of Pentecost, the disciples of Jesus were filled with life, but they did not understand the kind of life they had. Peter was so wrapped up with “the manner of the Jews” that he did not even understand the keys of the kingdom of God that Jesus had given him! He even argued against God when He first tried to show Peter that He was about to invite unwrapped Gentiles into His kingdom. Peter would never have gone to that Gentile Cornelius’ house and used his keys to open the door of the kingdom for him and his household if God had not compelled him to go.
Think about this, and what this tells us about Peter’s understanding! If Peter had done only what he felt he was at liberty to do, he would never have gone to open the door for the Gentiles! God had to send the same vision three times to Peter to make him willing to have his legs be unwrapped, to loose his arms and reach out with the love of God to those who were not like him! God had to compel Peter to unwrap the burial cloth that covered his eyes so that he could see the way to Cornelius’ house!
Jesus said that no one who has been drinking old wine wants the new, for they say that the old is better. This was true about Peter. He thought the old was better. He didn’t want to drink of the liberty (to go to the Gentiles) that Jesus was offering him because he had never drunk any of it. He had confidence within the confines of “the manner of the Jews”. He knew how to waddle around in burial clothes as well or better than anyone. For many believers, Peter’s reputation among the saints was dependent upon him staying bound up with them, and he knew how those saints would feel about him if he ever dared to unwrap that holy cover.
He tried living unwrapped once in Antioch, but he quickly covered his face and wrapped himself up in those binding clothes of death again when he saw some Jewish brothers walking up to the front door. But Paul rebuked Peter for his hypocrisy, and for making Gentile believers feel obligated to submit to “the manner of the Jews”, when Peter knew perfectly well that God did not want that for them.
When God gives you life, He wants you free, not only from “the manner of the Jews” but from the manner of every other earthly bondage, so that you can serve Him and do good in His sight. What good to God or to anyone else are saints when they are so wrapped up in fear of new wine that they can’t drink of the liberty that is in the newness of the Spirit of life, so bound by traditions and cultures that they dare not think God’s thoughts or feel God’s feelings?
I know you have life. The Spirit is life. But have you been unwrapped yet? Has the truth made you free? Or is your mind still dominated by old ideas about your God? When Paul implored the saints to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” this is what he was referring to.
When Jesus gave life to the Gentiles, they were without the encumbrances of the Jews’ manners, or traditions. Thinking this was not good, some Jewish teachers told Gentile believers that they needed to be wrapped up like the Jews, and that Gentile believers were not acceptable to God unless they were bound in the Jews’ spiced-up straitjackets. Many Gentiles fell for that doctrine and allowed those false teachers to cover their minds and restrain their spirits with “the manner of the Jews”. They surrendered the liberty God gave them, left the light of life, and waddled back toward the tomb.
Paul cried out against this institutionalized death. He wrote to his beloved Gentile converts (Gal. 5:1): “Stand fast in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and do not submit again to a yoke of bondage!”
Next time, Part Five: The Law and The Millennial Reign of Christ