"Unlike Paul, and unlike us, Jesus was without sin. Yet from a legal perspective (unlike the "legally faultless" Paul) Jesus broke the law frequently. And what's more, he broke the law so that he would be without sin: he broke the law in the interest of love."
"Jesus does not side with the religious authorities but shocks and confronts the religious establishment as he defends the outcast, the rejected, the untouchable. He does not identify with a legal system, he identifies with the lamb, the victim. He is not by any means the model law-keeper, but instead models the perfect relationship with God - Father and Son. He models what it looks like to live by the Spirit of grace. He does not show us a lawgiver God who demands perfect obedience but instead reflects God's heart of compassion towards us, especially those marginalized and rejected by the System."
These quotes from Penal Substitution vs. Christus Victor explained a lot to me. In the religious system, I've always heard it taught that Jesus kept the law perfectly. Yet, that never seemed right to me. He violated the Sabbath on many occasions., he touched lepers who were considered unclean by the law and he forgave a woman caught in the act of adultery instead of ordering her to be stoned as the law required. As I read the scriptures, I could see that Jesus acted contrary to the law on many occasions so I had difficulty reconciling that behavior with his perfect law keeping image.
Another area of confusion for me was the story Jesus told about how David, when he and his companions were hungry, entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread which it was unlawful for them to do since they weren't priests. (Mark 23-26) Jesus used David's example to validate his breaking of the Sabbath by allowing his disciples to pick grain and eat it in violation of the law. What surprised me is that God didn't seem concerned about this breaking of the law by either David or Jesus.
Yet, looking at another story involving David, we see that God reacted quite differently to the breaking of the law. In 2 Samuel 6:1-7, David puts the ark on a new cart pulled by oxen in order to bring it back to Jerusalem. While transporting it, the oxen stumbled and Uzziah put his hand on the ark to steady it. In this case, God grew angry and killed him.
As I looked at these Old Testament stories, I couldn't see why something as innocent as touching the ark resulted in such a violent reaction, yet David eating the consecrated bread was held up as an acceptable example. God's behavior in my opinion seemed inconsistent and erratic. I was confused because I couldn't figure out when it was okay to break the law and when it wasn't. I knew if I made the wrong decision, I was likely to be zapped like Uzziah was. That was definitely a scary thought.
However, seeing the cross through the eyes of grace brings all of this into perspective for me. Father is a God of relationship and people are important to him. The law was there for guidance but it was never meant to be more important than meeting the needs of people. Jesus finished the story about David by saying, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." (Mark 2:27)
Father's not a harsh taskmaster who demands obedience no matter what the circumstances. Jesus came and revealed to us a God who's concerned about us and our needs and the cross is proof of that love.