Last week we learned that the Mosaic law was still in effect during Jesus’ lifetime on earth. But did Jesus actually keep it? That’s the issue we explore in this week’s lesson.

Many people, especially in the past, have mistakenly assumed that because Jesus spoke out against abuses in the Jewish religion that He was against the religion itself. This notion has been at the heart of anti-Semitism through the ages. But just how close did Jesus follow the law that He inspired Moses to write down in the first place? Was He a faithful Jew, practicing the prescribed rituals of their culture? Or did He ignore the Mosaic law entirely and just keep the Ten Commandments?

Key Text: “‘If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.‘” John 5:46 NRSV

We must remember that the laws that Moses wrote down were about Jesus! Jesus was the founder of the Jewish religion; not Moses, or even Abraham, as some may have assumed. If Jesus was present at creation, as testified by John in the first chapter of his Gospel, then surely He was on hand when Moses wrote down the ceremonial and civil laws that were given to help set up a nation that not only reflected God’s will, but would be a light to the nations and tribes around them.

Sunday: Circumcision and Dedication

The covenant with Abraham was sealed with the ritual of circumcision. As Abraham was to be the father of many nations, every male in his household was to be circumcised. And all baby boys born after that were to be circumcised on the eighth day of life. This was such a sacred and holy ritual that it was to occur even if it fell on the Sabbath.

Accordingly, Jesus’ parents followed this instruction and had Him circumcised on the eighth day. See Luke 2:21-24. This naming and dedication ceremony in the temple was accompanied by the very offering that Moses allowed for the poor, two turtledoves (Leviticus 12:6). So Joseph and Mary were diligent in seeing that Jesus bore the marks of the covenant, so important to Jewish males as a sign that they belonged to the Lord.

Discussion Questions: We find in the book of Acts that there was a sizable group of Jews who thought that newly converted Gentiles still needed to be circumcised. Read in Acts 11 how Peter swayed them with his story of the dream of a sheet with animals coming down to him. Why was it finally determined that circumcision was no longer needed by these new Christians? [After Christ’s death, God had chosen a new vehicle for the spread of the gospel. A new covenant included circumcision of the heart. See the following verse.]

“But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Romans 3:29 KJV

How had the Jews lost sight of the spiritual significance of the ritual of circumcision? What was its significance?

Why are most baby boys still circumcised today? Did God recognize that there would be health benefits from the practice too?

Monday: Jewish Feasts

Jews were required to assemble in Jerusalem for three of the yearly feasts, as instructed in the Mosaic law:

  • the Passover  which reminded them how an angel passed over their homes during the final plague, which allowed them to escape their slavery in Egypt,
  • the Pentecost which it was believed pointed to Moses receiving the Law on the mount, and
  • the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles which commemorated their time spent in the wilderness, and the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, on which the camp and people were cleansed.

There is Scriptural evidence of Jesus being in Jerusalem for the Passover on three occasions:

  • Luke 2:41-43, as a boy of 12 with His parents,
  • John 2:13-23, when He drove the moneychangers from the temple, and
  • Matthew 26:17-20, when He ate His last Passover meal with His disciples.

These feasts were full of symbolic meaning for faithful Jews, and no doubt they must have still been celebrated during Jesus’ lifetime. He adhered to the rituals He Himself had set up to remind the Jewish nation how God had intervened in their behalf.

Discussion Questions: There are some Christians who believe we are still obligated to keep the Jewish feasts. How do we know these feasts are not binding on Christians today? [They met their fulfillment in Christ, they were accompanied with animal sacrifices which has been done away with since the cross (remember the torn temple curtain Matt. 27:51)]

What can we still learn from studying these feasts though? [the grace of God and His power to deliver, the plan of salvation]

Tuesday: Jesus in the Temple

Jesus in the Temple

Luke 2:41-52 tells the story of how Jesus’ parents “went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover.” One would have to assume that they were diligent in keeping all the Jewish customs, as established in the Mosaic law, and were there at other required feast times as well.

Interestingly, only the Gospel writer Luke reports on this particular event when Jesus was twelve years old, the traditional age of maturity for Jewish males. We are thankful for Luke’s inclusion of this story, because so little is known about Jesus’ childhood.

But the story is important for other reasons. Upon close examination, we see many elements of the story that point to Jesus’ future death and resurrection.

  1. It may be significant that the story took place at Passover, the time of year that Jesus was later crucified.
  2. The three-day search of Jesus’ parents for their Son reminds us of the three days Jesus was in the tomb. [Keep in mind, three days in Hebrew time reckoning included the day something happened and the final day–for instance, Jesus died on Friday, day #1, He was in the grave over Sabbath, day #2, and He rose on Sunday, day #3.]

Jesus’ reply to His parents was an example of how God needs to be a priority in our lives. “I must be about my Father’s business” should be a daily reminder for all of us to put God first. Jesus fulfilled this priority supremely when He laid down His life for sinful mankind to have a chance of redemption.

Discussion Questions: What does it mean in v. 51 that Jesus was subject to His parents? Did His relationship with His parents change after this event?

This same verse includes Mary His mother keeping “all these sayings in her heart”. Compare this to the time after the shepherds’ visit, when Mary once again kept something in her heart–see Luke 2:19. Why would these things be important to her?

Wednesday: Taxes

Twice Jesus was approached about paying taxes, in order to get Jesus in trouble with the authorities. “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s” was His reply in one case about Roman taxes, showing them the picture of Caesar on a coin.

But in Matthew 17:24-27, a different kind of tax is in question. The Romans allowed the Jews to collect their own taxes to cover the costs  of maintaining and renovating the temple, probably the only structure remaining that gave them a national identity.

How ironic that Jesus was being asked to help pay for the cost of His own temple. If He paid it, it might prove that He denied His claim to divinity and considered Himself on the same level as other Jewish males. If He didn’t pay for it, it would indicate that He didn’t support the Jewish nation’s most revered structure. As usual, they thought they had Him cornered for sure.

fish IntroBut Jesus’ instruction was to Peter to go fishing, get a fish off the hook, and give the money in his mouth as their tax. Exodus 38:26 (part of the Mosaic law) gives the amount of tax as a half shekel for each male over 20. Therefore, the money found in the fish’s mouth would pay for Jesus’ and Peter’s share of temple tax.

Discussion Questions: How did performing a miracle to pay their tax show that Jesus was both divine and human?

What should be our attitude about giving offerings for the physical upkeep of our churches?

Thursday: Law Enforcement

We are familiar with the story of the woman caught in adultery and the message of love and mercy Jesus taught us there. We sometimes fail to see that enforcement of the law was the question being brought to Jesus here. If Jesus failed to recognize the punishment that was prescribed in the Mosaic law for adultery, He would be considered a law breaker.

When Jesus told them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8:7 NKJV), He verified the law of Moses. Her release was also according to the law, because there was no one to accuse her, and at least two witnesses were needed to execute the judgment of stoning (Deut. 17:6).

Discussion Question: Jesus showed us that God is a perfect blend of justice and grace. In our human relationships, is it better for us to err on the side of mercy or justice?


“Jesus as the Lawgiver was also subject to the law as a Jewish man. Although Jesus was critical of the man-made regulations that killed the spirit of the law, He respected the law and underlined in His ministry the lessons about God’s saving grace and power revealed in the law.” ~Teacher’s Quarterly


Think of some ways you can increase support your local church (as imperfect as it may be):

  1. accept leadership roles as they are given, if at all possible
  2. get to know your pastor and offer help of any kind
  3. attend and participate in as many programs of the church as you can
  4. help with church upkeep, financially and physically, as you are able