Wednesday, March 25th

Wednesday, March 25th

And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is—free and undeserved. Romans 11:6

Meanwhile, the crowds grew until thousands were milling about and stepping on each other. Jesus turned first to his disciples and warned them, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees—their hypocrisy. The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear! Luke 12:1-3

If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it. But when God found fault with the people, he said: “The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt. They did not remain faithful to my covenant, so I turned my back on them, says the Lord. But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already. And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear. Hebrews 8:7-13

The "new way" that Jesus came to establish is all about the good news of grace. Feasting instead of fasting is unexpected and they are as opposite from each other as grace and merit. The new way includes Jesus, feasting, grace, gospel and faith. The old way includes religious leaders, fasting, merit, a religious system, and works. The Romans passage above makes it clear that the "new way" in Christ is all about the free and undeserved grace of God and not about a system of good works. Not only is it true that the "new way" and "old way" do not go together but the "old way" must be forsaken altogether. In the Luke passage above Jesus warns against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Their religious practice is all about outward appearance. As long as they "look" righteous they don't have to worry about "being" righteous. Jesus says that someday they will be exposed for what they are, frauds. Everything they covered up from public view and kept hidden and secret will be revealed and it won't be pretty.

The fact that the Pharisees ended up so far removed from what God intended, gives us some insight into what the Hebrews passage above is talking about. The old covenant gave in great detail all that God desired (the law) for his people Israel. But the fault of the old covenant (not the laws themselves) was that it could not empower people to carry out the intentions of God it contained. The "old way" of the Pharisees and the old covenant are not the same thing. The "old way" of the Pharisees is the product of the faulty old covenant that could not empower people to carry out the intentions of God it contained. The "old way" is a man-made religious system that makes it possible for its adherents to appear to be righteous and appear to be carrying out God's intentions when in reality they are anything but what they appear to be. The new covenant that Jesus came to put in place leaves no room for the old covenant or the "old ways" of the Pharisees. What a blessed gift it is to be recipients of the "new way" that includes Jesus, feasting, grace, gospel and faith. This "new way" is all we will ever need.

Lord, thank you for your love and grace that rescued us from man-made religion and immersed us in the actual experience of your love and grace. You are awesome, magnificent, and amazing. We exalt you, praise you, and magnify you, Lord. Receive our worship and devotion as we bow before you in surrender and absolute dependence.

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