Sermon – November 6, 2016
Christianity is correctly understood as the fulfillment of the Jewish religion; its purpose and its rightful end. Christianity’s connection to Judaism, however, was a source of much confusion in its early days, not to mention today. We ourselves are at times perplexed about how to handle the OT; how much more those who knew of no other Scripture, and knew of no other life before God than that lived under the law? The use and place of the law for Christians is then a delicate matter. We cannot divorce ourselves from the law; but neither can we use it in the same manner that the Jews did now that Christ has come. Today, we will look at the nature of the law, and its fulfillment in Christ.
1. The OT distinctions are fulfilled in the body of Christ
Some of the stipulations mentioned here appear to be regulations for those who desire to be especially holy before the Lord (Num 6:3). Taken in full, however, these regulations appear as a broad category of distinction built into what it means to be an Israelite and part of the people of God. But no longer do you have to follow those things to belong; these were only a shadow of the reality that is the body of Christ.
2. The OT temple worship is fulfilled in the body of Christ
The mentioning of special days, in this same manner, occurs in several places in the OT, including Hosea 2:11 and Ezekiel 45:17. They are typically connected with worship in the temple of God, especially in Ezekiel. But Paul here explicitly states that such forms of worship, of meeting and glorifying God, were but broad outlines of a reality that has come in the body of Christ.
3. The OT civic laws are fulfilled in the body of Christ
This point is not made explicitly by Paul, for it is not important for his present concerns. However, it has a great deal of importance for us today, as it is one of the chief ways that people argue that Christians simply “cherry pick” the OT for laws that they agree with. We don’t (or, better, we don’t have to). Because these laws are fulfilled in Christ, they are naturally applied by him. So while Lev 20:11 calls for death for the man who sleeps with his father’s wife, Paul calls for excommunication (1 Cor 5:1-5) – being thrown out of the body of Christ.
This topic, how the apparent reality of the OT has given way to the “real” reality of the body of Christ is especially important today, as we gather to partake of the Lord’s supper. By taking it, we pray that we both become what we eat, and what we worship!