Monday, September 6, 2010

the problem with being Jewish

Acts 21:20-21 And they said to him, "You see brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law; but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs."
Consider the dilemma of the Jew who came to faith in Jesus in the time of Paul.  All the law, all the tradition, all the community culture and societal pattern were defined through the law of Moses and the centuries of common history, as a people.  The very glue of this nation...this people...was said to no longer carry the meaning that it always had.  The Jew was to accept Jesus and His redemption....but then what of the Law...and what of the impact to a culture that had been centered on that Law?  In a sense, Jesus seemed to threaten the identity of this nation and of its people individually.  The very thing that distinguished them from the Gentile pagan and the Roman conqueror was now said to have changed....Consider the dilemma of the Jew as he wonders, "Who am I now?"  They were called to make a leap much more difficult than the Gentiles who came to faith, because they not only embraced the Son of God, slain and resurrected, but they were called to see themselves and their knowledge of God in a new way.  Sometimes it is hardest for the characters in a play to grasp the plot line.  If the Jew understood the Law and the Prophets and the History of his people, then he would have realized that Jesus was not the end of the Law but its fulfillment.  Yet we are creatures of the routine and we embrace that which is familiar and the Jew had allowed the form and structure of their lives to become its meaning.  Actually, the form and structure of their lives had been painting a picture of the world's need for a Rescuer.  It was almost as if they were too close to see the fullness of the plan.  One became a Jew by being born into a Jewish household.  One became a Christian through faith...a new birth.  Life was now no longer about was about having a real relationship with God.  Paul was willing to face the derision of the tradition-bound that he might be the carrier of this message of new life to individuals who would receive it despite the risks of rejection on the human level.
Acts 21:13 Then Paul answered, "What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart?  For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."
Rob Smith

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