I remembered during my younger days in high school, I had a Mathematics teacher who came in to our class with only the “Four Figure Table”, which is nowadays equivalent to a scientific calculator and a pile of past question papers. He had no text book at all. All the mathematical theories he taught came straight from his head. That was amazing. Our tutorials were all from past exam papers. We had two years to gear up to sit for the public exam, then, called the Cambridge School Certificate.
Our school was famous for being the best school in the area, producing many top students and sportsmen. The expectation to perform well in the public exam from the students was high, and so was the expectation of the principal from the teacher. Many parents loved to send their children to this school and so the expectations of parents from their kids were high.
When we had our first class test for Maths from this teacher, we had a rude awakening to find only a handful passed. Even the supposedly good students failed. Some even had negative marks (owing the teacher marks!)-that was the first time we ever heard of. He told us that when we made silly mistakes, such as, for example, having a mathematical solution ending with a number divided by zero, we would get negative marks. That was our eleventh commandment – never divide anything by zero.
Obviously this was the school subject I disliked as I frequently failed. Each week we had to stand up, hold the weekly report card next to our chest to let the principal of the school walk through our report. If we did badly in a number of subjects we would be called into his office, given a letter and our parents summoned. That was the double embarrassment we had to face in this school. That was the price we had to pay to be in this school of high expectation.
Imagine for a while, this teacher died and his position taken over by a new teacher. You felt relieved. Imagine also that you were the top student in the class and you felt good about yourself. You sat for the first time a Maths test with this new teacher. You thought it was just like a walk in the park. When the test result came, you felt certain that you would get accolades from your new teacher. To your surprise – all of you failed, not even you the top student could make it. How could that be? You did most of the questions correctly. All of you questioned the teacher why. He said that 70% or 99% was not good enough for him, it had to be 100% to pass. What? How could that be possible? Well, the teacher said that was his standard from the very beginning. Imagine you having to face the principal and parents again. What a torment, what hoplessness you felt, you felt like ending your life. You told your classmates that the only one person who could ever pass his test would be the teacher himself. “Why try anymore?”, you said in your heart. May be you had a crazy thought of having the teacher personifying you and doing the test for you!
Well the great expectation is found in the bible too. God’s standard is 100 %, otherwise you are considered not up to the mark. Consider this –
(James 2:10) and (Galatians 3:10) – whoever keeps the whole law yet stumble at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. No one can pass, absolutely no one. Only Jesus can sit his test and pass.
Well, the Pharisees thought they were the best students of the law and would easily pass the test for they were well known for keeping the law given by their teacher Moses. They had their own series of laws to help them keep the ten commandments. Well, when Moses died and their new teacher Jesus came along the scene, the Pharisees expected accolades from Jesus. But instead they got a rude shock from the new teacher – Jesus called them in Matthew 23 - white-washed tombstones, hypocrites, blind fools, brood of vipers, snakes….
The Pharisees thought that their standard of keeping the law was good enough, but it was never good enough for Jesus. God’s ways are higher than our ways. His expectation has always been high from the very beginning of creation. Now look at what Jesus said about the law in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) ::
(Matthew 5:20) – unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:27-28) –anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery.
(Matthew 5: 39-41)- But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.
How can it be? Who can ever pass God’s standard? No one. That is right, no one. We have to come to an end of ourselves, our abilities, our efforts to get through the test. Only Jesus can sit His own test and pass. THAT IS RIGHT.JESUS FULFILLED THE LAW. IT IS FINISHED. WE PASS THE TEST WHEN JESUS SITS ON OUR BEHALF. It is no longer a crazy thought of the teacher personifying you to do the test – HE LIVES IN US; IN HIM WE LIVE AND MOVE AND HAVE OUR BEING. He is the standard, yet He is the one living in us to fulfil that standard.
The purpose of the law is to let us come to an end of ourselves and to realise we need outside help, the Saviour Jesus, who is the living God. Moses, our former teacher cannot help us as he is dead and in the tomb. We do not need the “Four Figure table” , past papers or calculator to get ready for the exam, the great expectation. His Holy Spirit is in us and is our teacher and He will guide and teach us into all truths. His standard of teaching is much higher as it is through revelations of Himself through His Spirit.
When we embrace His finished work on the cross, He fulfilled all the requirements of the law 100% for us. In fact we pass the test more than 100%, far exceedingly than what we can think. He is the God of the much more. I AM GLAD FOR THIS NEW TEACHER!