Summary: Galatians 3:16 talks about the fact that Jesus was the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham’s seed? But why did Paul say that and what can it mean to us today?
OPEN: In my files I have list of some unusual laws:
· In Birmingham, Alabama, it is illegal to drive a car while blindfolded.
· In Detroit it’s unlawful to tie a crocodile to a fire hydrant.
· Natchez, Mississippi has a law that forbids giving an elephant beer to drink.
· And if you tie your elephant to a parking meter in Orlando, Florida, you have to feed the meter just as if the elephant were a car.
· Barbers in Waterloo, Nebraska, aren’t permitted to eat onions between 7a.m. and 7p.m.
· In Hartford, Connecticut, transporting a cadaver by taxi is punishable by a $5 fine
APPLY: Those are fairly bizarre laws. But at one time, they probably made sense. I suspect someone had tried to drive a car blindfolded in Birmingham, and someone else had tied their crocodile to a fire hydrant in Detroit Michigan. And the courts realized it wasn’t against the law to do stuff like that… so somebody had to write a law.
And to this day those archaic and out of date laws are on the books in those states
I. In the days of the early church, there was a problem.
For the first few years of the church’s existence, the only Christians were Jews.
Jews were those who were physically descended from the tribe of Judah of the nation of Israel – and were people who zealously abided by the laws of Moses.
These Jewish Christians had been raised under the Old Testament law. All their lives they had attempted to obey the laws of Moses. They had kept the feast days. They bro’t offerings to the temple. They had offered blood sacrifices at the altar.… But then Jesus came into their lives and all those laws suddenly became useless.
No longer were they expected to keep the feast days. No longer were they required to bring offerings to the temple or offer blood sacrifices at the altar.
Jesus had come to fulfill the law
Jesus died to replace the offerings and sacrifices that had once been required.
But – in the mind of many good Jewish Christians – there was at least one law that was still on the books. There was still one requirement from the Law expected of anyone who wanted to belong to God. …Circumcision (for those of you who don’t know what circumcision is, see me after the sermon).
Circumcision had been required of God’s people ever since the days of Abraham. Every good Jewish parent took their 8-day-old baby boys to the Temple to have their foreskins removed. It never occurred to them that this requirement of the law might be outdated.
These good Jewish Christians believed that ANY male convert to Christianity needed to have been circumcised before they could become a Christian.
II. But all that changed when God decided it was time to have Peter pay a visit to some Gentiles.
Acts 10 tells us that an angel of God had visited a Roman Centurion by the name of Cornelius and had instructed Cornelius (a Gentile) to send messengers to Joppa and seek Peter.
Now that would seem like a simple enough request… except that there was NO WAY Peter would ever go into the home of Gentile. He wouldn’t have gone to eat with them. He wouldn’t have gone to visit them. He wouldn’t have gone to preach TO them.
Gentiles were vermin
They were beneath contempt
They were unworthy of receiving the Good News about Jesus Christ
But God softened Peter up with 3 dreams that so shook him up that when Cornelius’ messengers came to his door Peter “said to them: ‘You are well aware that it is AGAINST OUR LAW for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.’” Acts 10:28
So Peter went to preach to Cornelius and his friends… and he took along with him 6 other circumcised believers. It’s intriguing, but this story is the only occasion where God’s word referred to someone as “circumcised” believers. And whenever God takes the time to be specific in His language… we need to pay attention.
There was a reason why God went to the trouble of calling these 6 men “circumcised” believers. They thoroughly expected to circumcise Cornelius and his friends. All the way to Cornelius’ house I suspect they were sharpening their knives as they made their to visit these Gentiles so they could make the male converts into Jews before they could be baptized.
When they got there, however, God short-circuited their plans. Before Cornelius and his friends could even respond to Peter’s message “the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were ASTONISHED that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.” Acts 10:44-45