Ooohhhhh harsh Paul! Geesh! …
Hmm… maybe we can relate to Paul. Have you ever wanted to take someone by the shoulders and shake some sense into them? Through his words, Paul is trying to do the same with these Galatians. It wasn’t that they were senseless but that they were in danger of the loss of their salvation. He was in fear for them.
When we are in a quarrel with someone we care about – we pull out all of the stops in order for them “to see the light”. Over the next couple of chapters, we will see Paul give a personal argument, a scriptural argument, a practical argument, a sentimental argument, and an allegorical argument – all to show that Christ is our way to salvation, our Redeemer, and that we cannot get ourselves into heaven on our own merits.
Today’s reading shows the disputes of justification on a personal argument & a scriptural argument.
In his personal argument, Paul is exclaiming that his efforts have fallen on deaf ears. Do we ever feel like this? We put in so much effort trying to teach our kids or communicate with our significant other – just to feel like our words have fallen on deaf ears? How often do we hear of what we should be doing but take another option instead?
….Man! I should really be eating that chicken salad for lunch, but that cupcake looks amazing!.... It’s only for today; I’ll be on track tomorrow. Or Monday…..
Are cupcakes intrinsically bad? No. They are good! But is there something better? We argue that there are good things in life, and then there are better things. The hardest thing to do in life is to make the decision between doing something that is good and doing something that is better. A cupcake is good. A salad is better. Both would end our two-o-clock hunger pangs, but the salad has better nutrition for us. Dating “Bob” is good. But is he destined to be our future husband? Is there someone better? The Law is good. It provides structure, regulations, guidelines, and a basis for edification. But Christ is better. Paul, now in the scriptural argument, is continuing to try to show the Galatians that Christ not only pointed to the law, He fulfilled it. The law of the Old Testament has been fulfilled in the New Testament by the mission of Jesus, through his ministry.
Remember, the Jews could not fathom the idea of abandoning the Law that they lived by for so long. They saw that the Law was good. So in their attempts to bring goodness to converts, they challenged everyone to be circumcised and do works of the law. Paul, rather, is pointing out that Christ is the better part! It wasn’t the good law that gave us salvation but Christ. We are human. We will all disobey the laws of God at some point (ok, many points) in our lives. We are cursed because of our disobedience. Saving ourselves in impossible. We need a life raft. God gave us His son, to take on the curse Himself. It’s our faith in Him that sets us apart from the Jews. Let’s look at the footnotes of Galatians 3:1-14 (remember footnotes? <-link to footnotes post)
“Those who depend not on promise and faith but on works of the law are under a curse because they do not persevere in doing all things written in the book of the law […] in order to gain life. […] But scripture teaches that no one is justified before God by the law […]. Salvation, then, depends on faith in Christ who died on the cross, taking upon Himself a curse […] to free us from the curse of the law.”