Thursday, October 26, 2006

To Understand The New, We Must First Understand The Old

Today in Biblical Foundations we were discussing Leviticus and the holiness code. Dr. Hahn pointed out that the restrictions on unclean things was a type of divine pedagogy that God established for Israel.

For example, leprosy, the menstrual period, and a corpse were unclean things that the rabbis saw as theological symbolisms for sin.

Leprosy shows us how contagious sin is. St. Thomas Aquinas took it further and compared leprosy to venial sins which spread fast leaving you like a leper covered white as wool with mortal sin.

The rabbis saw the menstrual period as a sign of how sin leads to infertility. Sin cuts off life.

A corpse (the ultimate unclean thing) shows the effects that sin has on a person- death!

Now with all this in mind, we can take a look at the Book of Matthew (a book written to a Jewish audience) and begin to understand some of the miracles that Jesus does.

Starting in Matthew 8, a leper approaches Jesus and says, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean." Jesus replies, "I will; be clean" and touches him. Yet Jesus doesn’t become defiled. Rather the leper is no longer unclean and his leprosy is gone.

Then, in chapter 9, a woman approaches Jesus who has been "hemorrhaging for twelve years." In other words, she was on a twelve year menstrual period and thus unable to worship God in the Temple for that time due to her uncleanness. This woman approaches Christ and touches just the fringe of His garment. According to Leviticus’ holiness code Christ would now be unclean as the woman was. Yet even touching the fringe of the garment of Our Savior is enough to impart Christ’s grace and make the woman clean.

Right after this in chapter 9, Christ goes to the little girl who has died. Now keep in mind that just going near a corpse was enough to defile someone. And what does Jesus do? "He took her by the hand" and she was brought back to life!

Notice each time Christ comes in contact with the three most defiling things of the holiness code. Yet Christ is not defiled, but rather makes the person clean. Matthew puts these three events in his Gospel in this exact order to show the Jews that Christ has power over sin and death. Christ destroys death and makes the unclean clean! The New Covenant of Christ is much more powerful than the Old Covenant and the Levitical laws.

Of course, right after Dr. Hahn finished telling us this he notices that time is up and class is over, thus leaving our hearts burning within us and wanting more. I’m sure everyone in class would have stayed longer if Dr. Hahn would have kept talking and opening up the Scripture to us! I would have at least.

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