PREACHER – BEN ALDOUS
Reading – Galatians 3:10-14
Jesus the curse? Saved us from the Hearse? He’s more than a nurse!
Good evening. My name is Ben. Married toSharon. 3 kids. Lived inCambodiafor 5 years as a church planter near the Vietnamese border so I can say things “Sean has a face like a monkey” which has limited value I suppose but I think is funny. I guess we are part way into this series looking at the Lenten journey to the cross and the richness, the beauty of the cross. The cross is like a beautiful diamond. There are many ways to understand what took place at the cross; substitutionary atonement, liberation, etc.
Before we get into the passage this evening we have to ask some other questions. Are you a rebel or a geek? Come one let’s have a show of hands. Maybe you are OK with being a geek. But there’s a deeper question to be answered here, do you conform? We’re all wired differently so some of us lean towards conformity and some of us lean towards rebellion. Take my Dad and his younger brother. My Dad is the king of conformity. He responds well to rules. He likes to do the right thing. It was his younger brother Chris who always got him into trouble. It was Chris who stole the family car at 16 and drove toLondonbreaking down in Piccadilly square. It was Chris who drove buses overland fromLondontoKabulthe capital ofAfghanistan. It was Chris who grew the magic herbs in his garden. Always the rebel. How we respond to rules, to law says something about us. My kids are a classic example. Say to my oldest daughter don’t walk on the grass and she’ll listen to you intently and make sure she obeys. Amelie my number two will walk over to the grass look at you, look at the grass and jump both feet with great will.
We have a tendency to think that people who conform are good and people who rebel are bad. But it is as straight forward as that? Conformists are goodie goodies, rebels are bad.
What’s all this business about curses? Not sure where you mind goes when you hear the word. Hexing, jinx, voodoo, evil eye. Curses have been connected to all sorts of things. Wiley Drake boasted of praying for a curse of death over Barak Obama. Some actors who have played the role of superman have supposedly fallen under a curse. George Reeves the first superman actor was shot aged 45. Christopher Reeves was paralysed after playing superman for 4 times in a horse riding accident. Perhaps you think of the curse of Frankenstein or the werewolf or were-rabbit. Tristan and Isolde Wagner Opera…So what is Paul going on about?
Read passage on screen. Eugene Peterson’s Message (loosely termed a translation or paraphrase)
Jesus the curse?
One of the big challenges in reading scripture is the gap between 21st century South Africa and 1st CenturyPalestine. Paul wrote to the church inGalatia (present dayTurkey). As the church grew there also grew a tension between the first Christians who were predominantly Jewish and the increasing number of gentile believers. What was necessary for faith? Did you need to be circumcised! Oww. Was it about keeping the laws of Torah? The law wasn’t bad in and of itself. The law in its many prescriptions enslaved Jews. Paul’s main criticism of the law is not that its demands are impossible but that they are superficial and that conforming to the law is ineffectual. Think back to the Gospels. Jesus verses the Pharisees, the teachers of the law. The religious status quo. In the beginning of Mark’s gospel Jesus is having face offs or show downs with these guys who were obsessed with the law, keeping the minutiae of the law but didn’t know God. Why don’t your disciples do what is kosher?
Jesus law of love is in direct opposition to the Pharisees love of law.
Paul in many ways is taking up the same issue. The law in Jesus’ and Paul’s era had got out of control. The commentary on the law extended to many thousands of parchments on how the law was to be observed. Talmud Could throwing a ball into the air with one hand be considered work or not? Therefore was applicable on the Sabbath? “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything thing written in the law.” It’s Impossible. This sets us up for failure. The law in itself is good. Paul makes it clear that the law is not to be dismissed as useless. Romans 3:30-31. We don’t nullify the law by faith we uphold it.
Being a conformist Paul is saying is 1. An impossible position. 2. Not the way to carry on a relationship with God. Because it’s impossible to be good all the time. “No one can sustain a right relationship with God that way.”
Eugene Peterson translates it, “Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you.” There are two approaches
That little Pharisaical attitude…looking down on other people who aren’t quite as pure or as good as you. Who don’t have it altogether. The messed up and broken people who are in fact in need of genuine love and listening and Jesus’ grace are slapped bang in the face with our superiority, our rightness.
He saved us from the hearse?
We as humanity have an obsession with immortality. Scientists,Hollywooddirectors, the man or woman in the street. Eccelesiastes reminds us that eternity is written in our hearts. Who doesn’t want to live forever? No one relishes death unless they are very sick.
He is more than a nurse!