Thursday, March 2, 2017

March 2

Leviticus 25:47-27:13; Mark 10:32-52; Psalm 45:1-17; Proverbs 10:22

Long reading today, huh? I think I’ll try to keep this on the short side, since our Old Testament passage today was especially long.

After some of the hard passages that Mary referred to yesterday, I was a little concerned about opening up today’s reading. But as is often the case, I was pleasantly surprised by Scripture today. In the Old Testament, we see a very explicit demonstration of the Mosaic Covenant. If you’re familiar with the OT, then you’ll know that covenants are a big part of the story. The Mosaic Covenant, often referred to as the Old Covenant, was very contractual – if the Israelites did abc, then God would do xyz. Take a look – “If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, then I will give you your rains in their seasons, and the land shall yield its increase…” (Lev. 26:3). And conversely, “But if you will not listen to me and will not do all these commandments, if you spurn my statutes, and if your soul abhors my rules, so that you will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant, then I will do this to you: I will visit you with panic, with wasting disease and fever that consume the eyes and make the heart ache” (26:15-16a). The agreement between the two parties, God and Israel, really couldn’t be any clearer. Unfortunately, as we already have seen in glimpses, the Israelites do not keep their end of the covenant, so God is forced to follow through with the consequences he lays out here. The covenant is broken.

So we have this contractual type of covenant in our minds as we read our New Testament passage. Jesus is beginning to prepare the disciples (and probably himself) for the crucifixion that is to come. He tells them, “The Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death…and after three days he will rise” (Mk. 10:33-34). This begins the New Covenant – the new agreement between God and humanity. This new covenant is new in many ways. Firstly, it’s between God and all of humanity, not just the Jews. Secondly, and most importantly, this covenant is not contractual. Jesus goes to the cross for everyone, regardless of who they are and what they’ve done, and his redemptive grace and forgiveness is open to everyone. No more “if you do this, then I’ll do this” but rather “I’ve done everything; I’ve given everything; all you have to do is receive.” That’s the covenant that we’re a part of, my friends. No contract, just the boundless love of God. And there’s no breaking it.

I have to wrap up or I won’t have succeeded in keeping it short. But I pray that the abundant and overflowing love of Jesus, the love the drove him to the cross and then out of the grave, may fill your heart and pour over into every crevice of your life.

- Esther McCurry

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