Friday, April 18, 2014
We’re in the Upper Room, hearing that Jesus plans to give His life for us. And we think that we have just entered an age of grace, which did not previously exist, which was alien to Old Testament times, which was not realized till Jesus. Yet in a sense, people in BC and AD both found salvation the same way--by grace. Jesus was the reality to which the sacrificial system had pointed. The OT gives us the foundation; the NT the fulfillment. How did the sons of Abraham obtain salvation? How were they pardoned? By living a holy life? Not possible. Israel clung to two things: One, that they were children of the Covenant, God’s chosen people; …and second, a system of atonement established by God--the Temple sacrifices for sin. Israel did not believe they could ever be “good enough.” But with a ritual in place, their sins were covered. What mattered then was how to live as God’s people. Why were Temple sacrifices necessary? Because sin cannot be overlooked. It must be punished. That was long ago. We may ask, “So what? What’s does that mean to us?” We live, not under God’s displeasure, but His acceptance, in spite of our many imperfections. This changes everything. It gives us hope. All because of grace. And what is grace? It is love that pays a price. Here’s how it worked… In the OT lambs were offered upon the altar. In the NT the Lamb of God offered Himself, upon the cross. That which normally was obtained by the Temple is now obtained through Jesus, the New Temple. He did for Israel what Israel could not do for itself. He was all that the Temple stood for and more. God promised in the OT to “tabernacle” with His people; literally to “dwell” with them. That was ultimately fulfilled, not with a building, but through Jesus. He is the place where Heaven and Earth join together. By claiming He was the Temple, Jesus meant that He was the means by which God was present with Israel. When the reality appeared, the Temple was needed no more…and thus in 70 AD it was destroyed. In Jesus the glory of the Lord has been revealed, and that glory has a human face. N.T. Wright points out, “Jesus is not only the Temple in person, but the one in whom everything that would normally happen in the Temple is fulfilled, completed, accomplished…All the functions of the Temple--festival, presence, priesthood, and sacrifice--have passed to Jesus.” Grace existed in the days of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; grace came to completion in Christ, and grace will be with us all our days. Grace matters. We’re not alone and on our own; it all doesn’t depend on us. We live by the grace Jesus supplies. What a relief! How sweet the sound!