In college I took History of the Old Testament as a graduation requirement. As a new believer, I was hungry to learn all I could to grow in my faith. I knew the stories of Moses, Daniel, Joshua and Jericho, but I didn’t know about the laws, the requirements, the restrictions that were carried out each day by the devout Jews. As my professor shared the different things that must be followed “religiously” I became exhausted. There were the original Ten Commandments given on Mt. Sinai, but the religious leaders added more and more, as well as the laws given in Leviticus, until there were 613 laws to follow. Can you imagine? How could you possibly keep them all straight, let alone obey them all?
My professor helped us see the impossibility of consistently keeping the laws every day. By the end of class, I felt the full weight of the expectation. I could hear the whispering voice constantly nagging me about whether or not I was doing the things I should be- in the way they should be done. It was daunting.
One of the first verses I ever memorized as a child was, For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16 KJV). I didn’t understand those words, except that God loved the world and that Jesus made a difference. He was important, but I didn’t get it until much later.
This year, as I was thinking about Easter, I realized that Jesus’ death and resurrection is the answer to the weight I felt in that Bible class years ago. Those laws were never going to be met, they were meant to show it couldn’t be done. That only through Jesus could we find the salvation, the healing, the grace we were looking for in our “religion.” And ultimately, it wasn’t religion at all that would make the difference in my life. It was choosing a relationship with Jesus, recognizing the rich truth of that verse I learned as a child, John 3:16.
I laughed out loud when I saw the simplicity: 613 laws on one side of the balance, John 3:16 on the other side. Only God could take simple numbers, turn them around, and have the entire Gospel message explained. We have the Law on one side and Grace on the other, it is our choice where we want to stay.
Galatians 3:23-25: Before this faith came, we were held prisoners but the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. What precious truth!
Dear Ones, this Easter could be the year you choose to tip the scales to Grace and embrace the forgiveness that comes through Jesus’ death and Resurrection. We just have to accept that law never gives freedom, only mercy and grace can give that– and they only come through Christ.