Monday, June 01, 2009

The Law and the Spirit

Pentecost is still celebrated today in Judaism as the feast of the giving of the law. At Passover, God delivered Israel out of bondage to Pharaoh in Egypt, and fifty days later, Israel arrived at Mt. Sinai. Moses goes up onto the mountain, into the cloud of the presence of God and returns with the law, the tablets of stone, engraving the covenant of God with His people. But of course that was only a faint glimmer of what we have been given in Christ. In the same way, Jesus died and rose again in the Greater Passover, freeing us from all bondage and slavery, and fifty days later the new Israel found themselves again at a mountain with the Greater Moses, and He ascended up into the clouds of God’s presence. But like Moses, He did not leave His people alone. He did not abandon them. Rather He came back down to them, but He came back down to them in the person and gift of the Holy Spirit. And the gift of the Spirit is our down payment, our confirmation of the New Covenant, and the law of this New Covenant is not engraved on stones but in the flesh of our hearts and minds. And this helps us understand why Paul so frequently compares and contrasts the law and the Spirit. Without this understanding, we are tempted to view them as completely different things, but they are rather different in terms of maturity, different in terms of glory, but both come on the fiftieth day, both come to confirm the covenant, both are symbols and signs of the heavenly presence of God with us, His people. And both lead us to walk in the way of freedom and forgiveness. And that is what we’re doing here at this table. This meal is the Great Passover Feast, the feast of freedom and forgiveness, but this feast is also like the feast of the covenant on Mt. Sinai where the elders ate and drank and saw God. The Spirit has been poured out, the new law has been given, your sins are forgiven, and you have been seated with Christ in the heavenly places. So come, eat, drink, and rejoice.

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