Hebrews 9:15 – 16 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
From the above passage, we learn that for there to be a testament, there must be a death. Yet, if I ask any believer today: ‘where does the New Testament begin?’, they will more than likely turn to the page between Malachi and Matthew. The question is, has there been a death of the testator?
The Blood of Jesus is nowhere to be found at the beginning of Matthew, or any of the Gospels. Jesus has just been born as a child of Abraham and is still under the law (Galatians 4:4). It is not baby Jesus that established the New Covenant, but it is the Cross, by his Blood, that we established the New Covenant.
The dividing line between the old and the new is the Cross. The implication is that not everything Jesus said before the Cross, is applicable to New Covenant believers.
For example, when the rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked, what must I do to have eternal life? (Matthew 19:16), Jesus responds telling him to keep the commandments. Now, the question is, which new covenant believer got eternal life by keeping the commandments? None. As believers today, after the Cross, we are saved by Grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Again, Jesus said in Matthew 6:15, if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. But yet, Paul writes the exact opposite in Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Before the Cross, under the old covenant, you had to forgive others to be forgiven. After the Cross, after the shed Blood of Jesus (Hebrews 9:22), we have been forgiven and should now extend that to others (Colossians 3:13).
Pre-Cross Jesus and post-Cross Paul are not in conflict as long as we understand they are ministering under two different covenants to two different groups of people. One, before the Cross, the other after the Cross. Without that understanding, we will try and mix in what Jesus intended for the Jews under law with our New Covenant Grace, and end up burnt out, frustrated and confused. We cannot put new wine into old wine skins, Luke (5:37); the Grace of the new wine must be drunk pure.
Growing in Grace, understanding the Red Letters of Jesus.