When the New Testament picks up, the Jews are under Roman rule, which is sustained throughout the remainder of the Bible. In both the entire New Testament and in many references scattered through the Old Testament, the centerpiece of all of it is the Messiah, first predictions and then in person. In close resemblance to the Prophets of the return from captivity, John the Baptist represents a new voice, teaching that they must follow the Word but also that there was a Messiah to come. There is a great distinction between the old ways and the new ways that markedly separates those who live by grace and those who continue to live by the law. Jesus Christ was to be the one final blood sacrifice, the fulfillment of all the payments and fees that God was collecting, to restore forgiveness to His people, and the law ends when He fulfills it.
Jesus’ teaching begins at the young age of twelve when his mother finds him at the Temple listening and speaking with the teachers of the law there. It is there that he demonstrates his knowledge and understanding of God’s laws for the first time recorded and refers to the Temple as his Father’s house. Following his baptism by John, he made a pattern of healing and studying on the Sabbath, which was have been considered work by the law. In Mark 2:23-28, He and his disciples collect grain from fields in their passing because they were hungry. A Pharisee accuses him of doing what is unlawful, but he answers that because they are hungry and in need that it will be permitted, as it was in David’s time. In Mark 3:1-12, he is being watched to see if he would break the law and heal someone on the Sabbath, which he does. He asks them if it is lawful to do good or evil, as though the good outweighs the idea that the Sabbath is for resting. Early on, in these small interactions, he shows the grey areas around the laws, where intention and good deed and necessity can be more important than follow every letter of the law. In some cases, however, like Luke 4:14-30, as he goes to study the scriptures at the Temple, there are people nearby expecting to be healed, because they know he is able. He tells them of moments in Jewish history when a Prophet did not heal just because they were able or was sent to save one person rather than the hundreds who needed it. While they are pleased to hear him speak of fulfilling scriptures, He is chased out of town because of their expectations.
It is this new method of teaching, of kindness and grey areas that gives us a new path to follow, rather than the letter of the law. While many thought he was abusing or even destroying the traditions of their people, he was trying to show them the love and grace God has always intended to be there from the start. That loving God, loving others, and loving yourself was to be a keystone to seeing the purpose of the law without it being a burden to all trying to live it. Jesus was doing away with the traditions, and just like today, many could not let go of the letter of the law.