Friday, September 11, 2009

Galatians Journal: Chapter 3, verse 25

Galatians 3:25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

“Now that faith has come” Paul continues the theme of the “pedagogue,” the slave/tutor for young boys that was fairly common in the culture of the time. The metaphor here is framed in the terms of a youth coming into maturity, into adulthood. (The time frame for this occurring in both the Greek and Jewish cultures was when boys reached the age of 13 or 14). There would come a time in the course of the relationship between pedagogue and ward when the boy would be old enough to handle things himself – he was now mature enough to get along without his tutor. For some, this change would be almost instantaneous. For others, the boy might need more help, and was gradually weaned away from his tutor. The coming of Jesus into our lives is similar. From a “global” or historical perspective, the fact of Jesus being born into this world and dying for our sins technically freed mankind from the “supervision” of the Sinai covenant. But because of the relational nature of the promise, there is a moment in each of our lives when “faith comes,” when we are born again. The inner transformation for some is so great, so fundamental, that they “mature” and are set free in what seems like, or actually is, an instant. Others struggle more, and cling to the comfort and crutch of their old tutor (See Romans 7).

But a major factor in understanding this concept of the tutor was this – the pedagogue was NOT the teacher. He was just a guide. A guardian. A baby sitter. The real learning, the real study, the real life-giving relationship came from the teacher. The comparison is obvious. We need to graduate from relying on a substitute care giver that can help us, but can’t impart life -- to the real teacher, who not only imparts life – He IS life!

Do we now disregard the law? Of course not. The word used here is “supervise.” The law will always serve as a road map, a referee, a reference. The lessons taught to the young boy by the pedagogue lasted a lifetime. But the boy would come to rely on his teacher, on the relationship with the master, and didn’t need to have his hand held on the way to school any more. The is how we need to view the law in the context of our relationship with Jesus. The law is not irrelevant, its just not primary. Its not supervising. Its not in charge. The life lessons learned under it are important, and carry on, helping us frame our behavior. But if that is all we have, there is an emptiness, a loneliness, an incompleteness. The supervision comes from the teacher – but not from a stern taskmaster or a dictator, but from a loving, interactive relationship with a loving Father – the Lord of the universe.

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