Do you remember what we read and wondered about last time? Paul is explaining to his friends in Galatia why they don't have to follow Moses' laws any more to be a part of God's family. Those laws helped sinful people come close to God, and they pointed God's people in the right direction. Those laws were good and important — they helped to guard and protect God's people — but their time is over now.
Today's reading is Galatians chapter 3 verses 23 through 25.
Before faith in Christ came, we were guarded by the law. We were locked up until this faith was made known. 24 So the law was put in charge of us until Christ came. He came so that we might be made right with God by believing in Christ. 25 But now faith in Christ has come. So the law is no longer in charge of us.
Paul wrote this letter almost two thousand years ago. Did you know that the children who lived way back then, on that side of the world, also had babysitters?
That's right! Though they weren't exactly like the babysitter who comes over when your parents go out to dinner. Some of you who are listening maybe do some babysitting yourselves: you might have taken a Red Cross class, or gotten practice working in your church nursery. Babysitters today usually play with the children they're watching, or help them with their homework. They keep a friendly and caring eye on children until their parents come home.
In Paul's time, many families had a slave who was in charge of guarding the children. This slave was with the children all the time, from the day they left the nursery until they were grown. He would walk the children to and from school, keeping watch so that they stayed safe and only went where they should. The slave made sure the children did their schoolwork and any home chores, and kept them away from troublemakers and bullies. And when the children disobeyed, it was the slave's job to punish them and fix their behavior.
Did you notice the words Paul used in his letter? He wrote, "We were guarded by the law," and then "so the law was put in charge of us until Christ came." Paul is trying to help us see that Moses's laws guarded God's people, just like the slave who guarded the children. It's an important job! Moses's laws showed God's people how to live, what to eat, how to worship and to treat one another. Like a guardian, the law kept God's people safe, and kept them apart from the Gentiles who worshiped idols. But it's not a forever job. When the children grow up, the slave guardian's work is done.
There was a time for God's people to follow Moses's laws. But, Paul says, now that time is past. Jesus has come: he has died and risen again, and now he is seated at God's right hand. Now is the time of faith: it is time rest in what Jesus has done. Now only Jesus is the one who brings us — and keeps us — close to God.
Let's get ready to wonder about God's good words together.
Loving God: make our minds curious, our hearts open, and our bodies at peace. Thank you for inviting us to wonder about your words. Amen.
I wonder how Moses's laws, written down in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, are like the kind of slave-guardian that children used to have? I wonder how these laws helped to protect God's people and keep them safe?
Sometimes these slave-guardians were also teachers. I wonder what Moses's law taught and showed God's people that they needed to know?
I wonder why God chose to work this way? I wonder why there was a time for law, and then a time when it was done?
Another way to hear verse 24 is: "Jesus Christ came so that we might be made right with God. We are made right with God by faith." Jesus is faithful to us and calls us. We can trust him to make us right with God, because he is good and because he is alive. Can I rest in that good news right now?
Is there anything I want to say to God right now? I take this moment to share anything that is on my heart with the God who loves me.
Loving God, thank you for Paul's words to the Galatians, and thank you that somehow by your Spirit, they are also your words to us. Give us the wisdom and understanding that come from your Holy Spirit so that we can know you better. Show us the faithfulness of Jesus, and help us to put our trust and hope in him alone. In his beautiful name, Amen.