|Moses receives the Tablets -- Chagall|
The Old Testament reading from Exodus reminds us of that Law as embodied in the Ten Commandments God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai. These commandments create a covenantal relationship between God and his Chosen people. God, for His part, would honor and protect those who kept his Law, but those who did not keep their part of the covenant could expect grief and tribulation. However, as St Paul writes in the Epistle, belief in such a covenant must make the Cross something of a stumbling block to serious Jews. How could Jesus be the complete embodiment of God’s Law -- the Law to which Paul himself remained faithful -- if he ends up executed like a common criminal?
|Christ Overturns the Tables -- Spencer|
For the Jews of the New Testament, the Temple in Jerusalem was the focal point of their worship, and the monument to their faith in God. It had, however, become degraded, so degraded indeed that it desperately needed radical renewal. Strange though it must sound, by this action Jesus declares himself to be its renewal. The Body of Christ is the new temple, and his death on the Cross replaces the daily round of animal sacrifices that took place there. In that death, the whole idea of sacrifice is transformed. The Crucifixion (as the Book of Common Prayer says) is the one, perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins, not of the Jewish people only, but for the whole world.
The message is evident. In Christ, everyone everywhere, irrespective of ethnic background and geographical location, is called to enter the company of God’s chosen people, and are able to do so -- if, of course, they choose the path of penitence and faith.