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email: pater@christopherklitou.com 

TALK ON WHY THE

JEWS REJECTED CHRIST 

10th MAY 2012

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The Christian faith is based on the fundamental truth and absolute fact that Jesus is God incarnate, that he came into the world as the expected Messiah, that he suffered and died on the Cross and arose from the dead on the third day, fulfilling everything in accordance with the prophecies as written in the Old Testament. Christ's Resurrection is the guarantee of our salvation, our return to Paradise and union with God for all eternity. St. Paul says that “if there be no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith also is in vain.” (1 Cor 15:14) What he is saying is that there is no Christian faith without the Resurrection; it is pointless and futile to even mention Christ if we do not accept that he died a real death on the Cross and miraculously arose from death on the third day. This truth of our faith was handed down to us by the Evangelists who wrote the Gospels and through the oral teachings of the Apostles who had first hand knowledge of the events and were witnesses of the Resurrected Christ.
Like the Apostles, many Jews at that time accepted and believed that Christ was the Messiah, but the religious leaders, the Priests, the Scribes and Pharisees, who had the power to influence the people, totally rejected him. I was sent a question by email asking: "Why did most of the Jews not accept Christ as the Messiah as they had waited many years for him to come, what were the reasons they turned against him? Also after Christ why wasn't any of the Jewish religion followed in his teaching i.e. circumcision, Passover, and the other laws they still follow? Our talk today will therefore be on whether the Jews actually recognised Jesus as the long awaited Messiah, and if so, then why did they reject him and have him crucified?
In the past we have talked of the many prophecies that were given to Israel for them to recognize the Messiah when he came. For 5000 years a nation had been waiting and anticipating the Messiah. The prophecies came at different times and by different men, slowly but surely, one after the other, each speaking about the same person, each adding new details to fill in the puzzle so that when the time finally came the Messiah could be easily recognized and there would be little room for doubts as to who he was.
From the prophecies it was known that the Messiah would stem from Abraham's son Isaac, from his son Jacob and then from Jacob's son Judah. In later generations he would stem from Jesse and the royal house of David. We are told that he would be born of a virgin who has known no man, that he will have a humble birth in a stable with a manger as his cot, (Isaiah 1:3) and that he would be born in Bethlehem. The prophecies even tell us that he would live and grow up in the region known as the Galilee of the Gentiles of which Nazareth and Capernaum belonged.
It could be argued that the birth of Christ was a very private event involving just a handful of people and that the religious leaders didn't have the opportunity to link the prophecies with the actual event. Certainly in their minds they had preconceived images of how the Messiah would appear. They would not have acknowledged the humble birth because for them the Messiah, the King and God would not condescend to be born in a stable, but in the greatest of kings’ palaces wrapped in royal garments and laying in a golden bed fit for the King of kings.
But even though the birth was very private, word did get to them of a king born in Bethlehem and the news should have aroused their interests to investigate. When King Herod heard that the Magi from the east had come searching for the newborn king of the Jews, he called together the Great Council of the Jews comprising all the chief priests and scribes of the people. St. Matthew tells us that Herod and all Jerusalem were troubled at the news. Understandably, Herod feared that a new king had appeared who would take his throne, but why were the chief priests and scribes troubled? Should they not have rejoiced that possibly the long awaited Messiah had finally appeared? The prophecies at least pointed to this possibility for when Herod asked them where Christ should be born, they answered without any hesitation that he would be born in Bethlehem of Judaea, because in was written: "And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel." (Matt. 2: 5-6)
When later on Herod gave the order to slaughter all the innocent children in the hope that among them he would kill the new King, why didn't the Chief priests and scribes object to this mad and inhumane slaughter, why didn't they try to protect the child so that at least they could investigate further if the child was indeed the Messiah and rightful King of Israel? Why didn't the Chief priests and scribes, who knew the scriptures and prophecies very well, recall the prophecy by the Prophet Jeremiah concerning the slaughter of the innocent children when he said: “In Ramah was there a voice heard, of lamentation, and weeping and mourning; Rachel would not cease weeping for her children, because they are no more.” (Jerem. 38:15) Rama means a high place and was a hill on the outskirts of Bethlehem. The prophecy mentions Rachel weeping for her children and presents her as a mother representing all the mothers who wept and mourned for their children because Bethlehem was given to Benjamin, the youngest son of Israel and Rachael was his mother who was also buried on that high place in Bethlehem. By their non intervention they were just as guilty of these murders as Herod was and as we shall see later, they had their own motives for wanting the death of the Messiah.
The years went by and they probably thought that the Messiah had indeed been killed in the mass slaughter, until Christ, as a grown up, began his preaching and performed miracles that only a man from God could perform. Again the religious leaders must have been troubled. The people were gathering around Jesus believing that he was indeed a man from God, a prophet and why not even the Messiah. The expected Messiah would have been welcomed by the Jewish leaders if his mission was purely political and that he came only to deliver them from Roman bondage and set up a kingdom where they would be the rulers. This is the general understanding of most people today; that the Jews rejected Jesus because He failed, in their eyes, to do what they expected their Messiah to do - to destroy all their enemies and establish an eternal kingdom with Israel as the pre-eminent nation in the world.
At that time, Israel was occupied by Rome and the Jewish hope was for the Messiah to come and free Israel from the Romans. In St. Luke's Gospel account of the Resurrection, when Christ met with the two disciples Cleopas and Luke on the road to Emmaus, the disciples were telling Christ of the events leading up to the Crucifixion and Resurrection and said: "the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel." (Luke 24: 20-21)
Even among the 12 closest disciples of Jesus there were some who still believed that he had come to deliver them from their political enemies. We read in the Acts of the Apostles that after Christ was Risen, but before his Ascension the disciples asked him: "Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6) Thus we see that not only the religious leaders and the people in general, but also the closest companions of Jesus, even after all Jesus had taught and done, were still longing for the political deliverer to fulfil the Jewish hopes and dreams of liberation from Rome.
If we return our minds to before the Resurrection, to when Jesus entered Jerusalem, this hope of a political deliverer is overwhelmingly clear by what took place. Christ had been to Jerusalem before, but now he enters the city officially proclaiming that he is the Messiah. Many people were at this time in Jerusalem as the feast of the Passover was approaching and they had come to make preparations for the feast. They had heard that Jesus had raised Lazarus who had been dead for four days and because of this many came to believe that he was the descendant of King David, the expected Messiah; the Christ who would deliver them from the yoke of the Romans.
Christ enters the Holy City on a young donkey. Not the most glorious of entries for a king who would be expected to enter with glory on horseback, but nevertheless the image of a victorious king is still present even in its humble version. He comes humbly because he doesn’t come as the national saviour whom the people expected, but as the saviour of souls. But this very humble entry is what proclaimed him as the Messiah. Those who knew the scriptures would have instantly recalled the Prophecy by the Prophet Zachariah which said: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” (Zach. 9:9)

Those who believed or were curious to see if Lazarus was with him, run to meet him and laid their clothes on the ground as he passed by while others cut branches from the trees and threw them before him or waved them as a sign of victory. The Palm branches were used as a visual sign of victory in the Old Testament. We have in the first Book of the Maccabees the triumphal entry into Jerusalem by Simon who was accompanied with thanksgiving with palm branches, harps, cymbals, violins, hymns and songs because a great enemy was destroyed out of Israel. (1Macc. 13:51) Also in Leviticus we read how the Palm branch was used during the Feast of Tabernacles as a visual tool proclaiming the sovereignty of God as the true king of the Israelites. In spiritual terms Christ is the victor over death, but the people received him as the hoped for victor over their enemies. Their cry of "Hosanna to the son of David" affirms that at that moment at least, they acknowledged him as the expected Messiah. They treated Him like a conquering king. Then when He allowed Himself to be arrested, tried and crucified on the cross, the people suddenly stopped believing that he was the promised Messiah; they rejected their Christ because if he was dying on the Cross how could he deliver them from their enemies? He no longer fitted in with their understanding or expectation of a political deliverer. He didn’t free them from the rule of Rome, he never lead them to political or economic freedom from their enemies. For most Jews this was the ultimate test of the true Messiah and if he wasn't able to deliver then he just wasn't the one.
For most Jews, even today, this is just confirmation to them that their ancient ancestors of the 1st Century were correct in rejecting Jesus as the Messiah. History has been harsh with the Jewish people and today they have many more reasons to continue rejecting Christ as the Messiah: it was his followers, the Christians, who for centuries persecuted the Jews, from the Crusades, to the Inquisition, to the pogroms in Russia and Europe, to Hitler’s holocaust. Jews ultimately believe that they are being held responsible for the death of Jesus Christ and are being persecuted for that reason.
Many say that it was not the Jews that crucified Christ, but the Romans. This is not altogether true. The Romans carried out the crucifixion, but it was the Jews who demanded that Christ be put to death. When Pontius Pilate wanted to release Jesus the Jewish people insisted on his death and seeing that he could not change their minds he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children." (Matth. 27: 24-25) Thus by their own confession they were guilty of murder and cursed their own children.
But if the people rejected Christ because he didn't live up to their expectations as the Messiah who would deliver them from the Roman occupation, this is almost understandable considering the fact that the masses were not spiritually minded, but rather were spiritually blinded by their zeal and hopes of freedom. For them the Messiah represented a political deliverer and not a spiritual deliverer. But what about the religious leaders, the Chief priests, the Scribes and the Pharisees; surely with their education and knowledge of the Scriptures they must have understood that the Messiah was far more than a political deliverer, surely they knew that the Messiah was also God incarnate. Isaiah prophesied to this saying: "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7: 14) Emmanuel means God with us. Again Isaiah said: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6) Isaiah clearly says that a child will be born who is the mighty God and everlasting Father. Thus the spiritual leaders must have understood that the expected Messiah was not just a political deliverer, but God himself in the flesh. It is because they understood this of the Messiah that they sought to kill him. Their motives for wanting Christ dead were very different from the masses. We saw that from the moment Christ was born they were in agreement with Herod to have him killed. They were troubled at the thought that they would come face to face with God who would demand of them to give account for their spiritual leadership of the people.
Their approach to receiving the Messiah was nothing new. Every prophet sent by God was received in the same way for the same reason. All the prophets without exception addressed and denounced Israel's hardness of heart, their careless spiritual attitude and falling away from God's commandments. God sent Israel many prophets to remind the kings and priests of their obligations, but they showed disregard and contempt for God and his prophets.
They closed their eyes and ears so that they would not see or hear all the things God had done for them and what he commanded them to do in the Law. Through arrogance and self-centeredness they disregarded the Commandments and forgot about God and became as strangers to him. They considered themselves above the Prophets and even above God and were not willing to be preached at with messages of repentance. They wanted a God they could control, who would do things in ways they wanted them to be done. Thus in their minds if they did away with the prophets and messengers of God they would be left to their own devices on how to rule the people. The Spiritual leaders of the people proved to be evil and did nothing of what they should have done. On the one hand they had committed the gravest sin by murdering God's ambassadors and on the other hand they acted as though they had done nothing by going to worship and pray in the temple, which they did only as a formality to appear to the people as good and virtuous men.
Christ verified that the Jews were guilty of killing the Prophets when he said to them: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers." (Matth. 23: 29-32)
They showed no remorse for their wicked actions and even believed that they were righteous because they knew how to interpret the Law. They had outwardly observed the Law and appeared to be obedient to the word of God: so where was the need for them to repent? They were therefore raged with the prophets telling them that they had fallen away from God and the Law and were in need of repentance.
For the spiritual leaders in Christ's time, the appearance of the Messiah must have been more fearful than the appearance of the prophets to their ancestors, but keeping in character with their forefathers they again thought that if they did away with him their troubles would be over.
So did Israel's spiritual leaders know that Christ was the Messiah? Yes, they knew and Christ verified this in the parable of the wicked tenants. (Matth. 21:33-46) He told them that a certain householder planted a vineyard and let it out to husbandmen. Then when it was time for the harvest he sent his servants to receive the fruits of it. In the parable the householder is God, the vineyard is Israel and the husbandmen are the spiritual leaders. Christ continues saying that the spiritual leaders took the servants, in other words the prophets, and beat one, killed another and stoned another. God then sent more prophets and again they did unto them the same. Lastly God sent his Son to them saying that they will reverence my Son. But when the spiritual leaders saw him they said among themselves, "This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him." Thus here Christ is clearly telling them what they will soon do to him, how they will take council against him and condemn him to suffer death on the Cross. Notice that they said this is the heir. They recognized that Christ was the Son of God and the rightful King of Israel. They thought that if they did away with him then they would be able to seize his inheritance, in other words they would have complete control and rule over the people of Israel. So they caught him and cast him out of the vineyard and slew him. Christ even foretells them where they would crucify him, out of the vineyard, outside of the city walls.
In conclusion to the question: "Did the Jews recognize that Christ was the Messiah?" we can answer that the Spiritual leaders and rulers of the people definitely knew who he was, but in fear of losing their power and control over the people, in fear of losing their wealth and position in society, they agreed among themselves that they would follow in their fathers footsteps and kill the Messiah. The masses rejected him because he didn't live up to their expectations of the Messiah, but the spiritual leaders rejected him because he was God. From the moment they understood who he was they planned on how to put him away. They didn't want to investigate and examine whether or not Jesus was the Messiah, they knew he was, their only concern was how they were going to eliminate him. As long as the people recognized him as the expected Messiah their plans were in danger, but after, with the help of Judas, they had him arrested and brought before Pilate, after the multitudes saw the man in whom they had placed all their hopes on delivering them from the Romans, like a common criminal, beaten with many stripes and standing before them a weak and frail man, their hopes were suddenly lost. How could this weak man be their Messiah? At this moment the chief priests and elders seized the opportunity to influence the people. They persuaded the multitude to ask for the release of a murderer Barrabas and to crucify Christ who had deceived them into believing that he was the Messiah. (Matth. 27: 20)
The second question in the email was: "Why after Christ wasn't any of the Jewish religion followed e.g. circumcision, the Jewish Passover and other requirements of the Law?
Firstly we must understand that circumcision is not righteousness? Abraham was accounted as righteous before the covenant of circumcision was given. He was accounted as righteous because of his faith in God. (Gen. 15: 6) God promised Abraham that through him would descend a great nation and he would be their God. As an outward sign of this promise every male belonging to Abraham's household whether family or servant had to be circumcised. Circumcision was therefore the visible and outward sign that a person belonged to the tribes that came forth from Abraham and who inherited the promise God made with him: these being the 12 tribes of Israel who descended from Abraham's son Isaac and the Arab tribes who descended from his son Ishmael.
During the first years after Christ, the first Christians were converts from the Jewish faith, but very soon the new Christian faith came to the Gentiles, in other words the Greeks who were not circumcised. Some at the time insisted that unless the Greeks be circumcised after the manner of Moses, they could not be saved. (Acts 15:1) This proved a great burden on the Greeks and a dispute arose among the apostles whether it was actually a necessity. The subject was a big issue and it was decided to call together the first Apostolic Council to deal with the problem. Some time before the council, Peter on one of his journeys was hungry and while waiting for the food to be prepared, he fell into a trance and saw a vessel come down from heaven full of wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And the Lord said to him, Peter, arise kill and eat. But peter refused and said: "Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean." (Acts 10:14) Then the Lord said to him: "What God has cleansed, that call not thou common." (Acts 10:15) Peter didn't understand the vision until he was called to go with three men to the house of a gentile named Cornelius. As a Jew, it was forbidden to enter the house of a gentile, but the Holy Spirit told Peter to go with the men doubting nothing: for I have sent them. At Cornelius' house Peter was received by Cornelius, together with his kinsmen and close friends. God had called him to preach the Gospel to these people. Then Peter realized the meaning of the vision he had, that God had shown him not to call any man common or unclean. While Peter preached to them, the Holy Spirit fell on everyone that heard the word. The Jews who were with Peter were astonished that the gentiles could receive the Holy Spirit while still uncircumcised. Peter then said: "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord." (Acts 10: 47-48)
At the Apostolic Council, Peter testified what had happened at Cornelius' house and said: "God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they." (Acts.15:8-11) Barnabas and Paul also testified that the Gentiles had received the Holy Spirit.
After much discussion it was decided that as God had put no difference between the Gentiles and themselves and had given them the gift of the Holy Spirit, then circumcision was not a necessity for salvation, but all who believe will be saved through the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ.
In his teachings, St Paul said to the Romans: "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God." (Romans 2: 28-29) Circumcision of the flesh was an outward sign, but the Jews should have also been circumcised in the heart, of which Israel failed miserably. Paul says: "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God." (1 Corinthians 7:19)
In his letter to the Romans Paul makes it clear that Abraham was accounted as righteous not because of his circumcision, but because of his faith. The promise from God that he should be the heir of the world was not given to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. (Romans 4:13)
The Covenant that God made with Abraham was that he would be a father to many nations. This promise was made to Abraham and his seed. St. Paul points out that seed is in the singular and does not mean seeds as of many and to all his descendants in general, but to a particular seed, which is Christ. (Galations 3:16) Christ therefore is the fulfilment of this covenant and when he came he made a New Covenant. The sign of this new covenant is Baptism and the old sign was no longer required.
Anyone who is baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity is joined to Christ through this new covenant and receives spiritual circumcision. This spiritual circumcision is of the heart and no longer of the flesh. For as Paul says again: "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Galatians 3: 26-29)
In the same way that the first covenant was fulfilled in Christ and a new covenant began, so also the celebration of the Jewish Passover prefigured the true Passover of Christ from death to eternal life. The Jewish Passover was celebrated in remembrance of the deliverance of Israel from slavery to the Egyptians. As we read in Exodus, God told Moses to tell the people of Israel to prepare for that last night in Egypt. Each household was to kill an unblemished lamb and take from the blood and strike it on the two side posts of their doors. The lamb was to be roasted with fire in other words barbequed and was to be eaten on that night with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. They had to eat it quickly and be dressed and ready to go because it’s was the Lord’s Passover.

The Passover had two meanings, the first was that that night the Lord passed through the land of Egypt and smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt. As he went, he passed over all the houses that had the blood on the doorposts and the firstborn of the Israelites were saved. The second meaning is the crossing over of the Red sea which symbolized the crossing over from slavery to freedom, of deliverance from evil and the travelling from death to a new life.
The event as seen in the light of the New Testament prefigured the true Passover which was fulfilled in Christ. The word Passover in Greek is Pascha. It means the passing over of Christ’s body from death to the Resurrection: The passing over of man from this life of bondage to the devil to the heavenly land of milk and honey; to Paradise. This for us is the New Passover, Pascha or Easter, the feast of all feasts where man is delivered from the evil that had him in bondage until Christ set us free through his death on the cross and his Resurrection. The Jews had to kill an unblemished lamb and put the blood on the doorposts. For us the unblemished lamb that is sacrificed is Christ himself and his blood is not painted externally on our doorposts but within us who are according to St. Paul the temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) Our mouth is the door of this temple as is expressed in a prayer before Holy Communion: “I am not worthy, Lord and Master, that Thou shouldest come under the roof of my soul; But for that Thou desirest, O Lover of mankind, to dwell in me, I make bold to draw near. Thou biddest me to open the doors that Thou, my Creator, mayest enter in with mercy proper to Thee, and bring light to my darkened mind.”
The Mosaic Law, the Law of the Old Testament and all the Jewish festivals like the Jewish Passover were given to Israel for one purpose only; to prepare them spiritually for the coming of the Messiah. Christ the Messiah is the same God of the Old Testament that gave them the Law, thus when he came as a man he didn't come to destroy the law which he had given, but came to fulfil it and renew it. Christ said: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." (Matth. 5:17) As already said, the purpose of the Old Testament Law was to prepare Israel for the coming of Christ, but the laws and observances were not perfect. The people were still in an age of darkness without the grace and light of the Holy Spirit to enlighten them and show them a different and superior code of conduct. Let’s not imagine for one second that the nations of the Old Testament understood everything we have been taught in the New Testament. From Adam and the fall people lived distant from God, living in their transgressions without laws. This lawlessness led the people to such wickedness that we are told God repented that he created man. “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” (Gen. 6: 5-6)
As preparation for the coming of Christ, the Law of the Old Testament was given to teach the people right from wrong. Without the Law there was no definition of what was pleasing to God for as St. Paul says “I would not have known sin except through the Law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the Law had said ‘you shall not covet’”. (Romans 7:7)
The law then defined what sin was and without it the people were unaware of its existence. But even with the law, the people were not ready to accept spiritual laws like turning the other cheek and loving their enemies. They needed to be educated slowly and in a way they could understand. An eye for an eye was, for that period of time before grace, the most effective law, because in the majority of cases the fear in breaking the law held them bound to keeping the law.
Our best teacher to help us understand the Old Law and how things changed with the coming of Christ is St. Paul. He said: “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 22:26.)
“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1 Corinthians 13:11).
The Old law can then be likened as laws for children who are not ready to think like adults, but by this I mean they are like children in the spirit who have not grown spiritually. We can explain this using an image of our modern day educational system. The Old Testament is like the education we are given in infant and junior schools and the New Testament like the education we are given in senior school. University, which is optional, can be likened to those who have put into practice the teaching of the New Testament and have received a master’s degree in the spiritual life.
With the coming of Christ a new covenant was given and with the new covenant a new law. That is why St. Paul says: “we are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom. 6: 14), and that “the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (2 Cor. 3: 6).
Paul also tells us the Old Law and its ordinances acted like a middle wall of partition, a barrier that separated and kept apart the Jew from the Gentiles. (Ephesians 2: 14-16) It encouraged discrimination and hatred of the Gentiles to the point where any contact of a Jew with a Gentile was considered unclean and contaminating. At that time this barrier and separation was necessary to protect the Jews from the idol worshipping Greeks. But Christ brought down this wall of partition in his flesh. With his death on the Cross, Christ abolished and put to death the enmity that existed before and brought about the reconciliation of both Jew and Gentile with themselves and with God.
By destroying the middle wall of partition and abolishing the commandments of the Old Law, Christ proceeds to the making of a new creation. Christ is the new man and the true image of God, the prototype and the first-fruit of the new mankind. In his person Christ creates a new man, the new humanity which without any discrimination consists of both Jews and Gentiles. The Old Law which separated the Jew from the Gentile had no place in the new humanity, it had to be abolished for a new law in Christ, a new law teaching peace and reconciliation, a new law of love for all people.