When God begins to move again in the world through the children of Abraham, we encounter Jesus, who himself says, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because I have been choosen and annointed to proclaim good news to the impovrished, sight to the blind, release to the captive, [in short] to proclaim the year of God’s favor [the Year of Jubilee][in other words, ‘to do the work of the kingdom on God’s behalf’.]” Additionally, Jesus will tell us, “I have not come to abolish the law, but rather to complete what was lacking in it.”
Since God met Abraham on the mountain and provided a ram in the thicket, thus bringing to conclusion child sacrifice and modeling attonement by substitution, God has been meeting us where we are, and drawing us forward into deeper, richer, and purer worship and faith. God does this not simply by discarding the things of the past, but by moving through them to transform them by the work of the Spirit.
Returning to Jesus, we find not a discarding of the faith of Abraham and his children, but a radical transformation of it by the work of the Spirit. Nearly the entirety of Jesus’ teaching ministry is grounded and rooted in the teachings of the Hebrew Scriptures, and related to the traditions around those teachings. Numerous times in teachings collected in the Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5-8, Jesus says, “You have heard it said… but I say to you…” where His additional teaching is not contradictory to, but builds upon and extends the teachings of the Law.
Additional thoughts to ponder:
- How has the experience of living by the law resulted in blindness and captivity and poverty from which Jesus came to liberate?
- How do the miracles of Jesus illustrate the Wind of God’s Spirit breathing new life into old faith?
- How did the Israelites respond when offered this renewed and transformed vision of faith?
- How did the Spirit breathe life and vitality into the early church, by beginning with the faith and traditions of those first Jewish Christians, working in it to bring that same vitality to people who did not share the secular and religious cultural traditions of the Jews?
- How might God work in and through our deep and meaningful faith traditions, honoring all they mean for us, as a foundation for bringing life and faith to people who do not share our cultural experience.