Summary: A sermon based on Gal. 3:28.
Sermon for 3 Pentecost Yr C, 20/06/2004
Based on Gal 3:28
By Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, &
Chaplain of the Good Samaritan Society’s
South Ridge Village, Medicine Hat, Alberta
Unity and oneness in Christ, baptismal equality, dividing walls of the human race have been removed by Jesus Christ—that is the message Paul preached to the Galatians who were fighting amongst themselves and dividing themselves against one another. That same message is equally as relevant and important for us Christians today. Paul is not speaking of a utopian ideology, nor an ethical demand—rather, he is speaking of an accomplished fact when he says: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” For Paul himself, who was a devout Jew, this message must have been revolutionary. In his Jewish morning prayers, which he likely prayed daily, Paul would have thanked God that: “Thou hast not made me a Gentile, a slave or a woman.” But now as a Christian, Paul is saying they very opposite—because he believes with all his heart that Jesus Christ has removed all dividing walls.
Jesus Christ has removed the division of race and ethnic background—“There is no longer Jew or Greek.”
Murray Joseph Haar, a devout, practicing Jew, son of Holocaust parents tells of how, in his many years of searching, he became a Lutheran pastor and now is a professor at a Lutheran college. In telling about his quest for the truth, his struggles within Judaism, and his journey into Christianity, he has this to say:
…something or someone compelled me to go into the enemy’s camp. I discovered that Jesus spoke the truth to God and the truth about God. He was a Jew. I also know that history has divided Jew from Christian. I can’t change that. But I think that Jesus embraces both Jew and Christian. Judaism and Christianity have defined themselves and Jesus in particular ways, and they have learned to defend their positions with fences and walls. But Auschwitz destroys these defenses and calls on both traditions to return to the Scriptures to study again, together, in search of the truth. 1
Jesus Christ has removed the dividing wall of race and ethnic background. Whether we are Jew or Gentile, black or white, brown, red or yellow, whether we are Norwegian Lutherans, German Lutherans, or “whatever” Lutherans—the dividing walls have been removed thanks to the life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In these rather heated days of racial and ethnic tensions around the world as well as right here in Canada—Paul’s words admonish us to repent of our own racism, to practice what we believe and preach by reconciling racial and ethnic divisions; by working for equality, justice, love and harmony among all the races and ethnic groups. We are all equal before Christ’s eyes; we are all one in him regardless of the country we were born in or live in; regardless of our skin-colour; regardless of the language we speak.