When I was a young boy growing upon the south side of Chicago, we didn’t start back to school until several days after Labor Day. Now that’s not how it is here in Indiana, or most other places these days, but back then, we enjoyed a full summer way from the classroom. That is, unless you were in summer school… either because you had to go in order to be promoted to the next grade, or as in my case, my Dad thought I had too much time on my hands and summer school would be a good way to keep me busy.
By starting back to school so late, we also didn’t start our summer vacation until sometime near the end of June, well past the May dates that most schools let out these days. So we had a grand summer, a little longer than the kids get these days, but I’m sure that in the ultimate analysis, things all worked out about the same. We never had a real fall break, but we did have spring break, and a fair amount of time off during the holidays.
Several thousand years ago, things were different from the way we operated in Chicago or the way the schools operate in Indiana. Back then, the sons and daughters of the wealthy folks were “schooled” by the slaves who worked for the family. More times than not, the children actually lived with the slaves from early on in their lives until they had learned everything the slaves could teach them. Then, and only then, they were moved back into the master’s home to continue their education. The children learned things that were beyond the knowledge of the slaves and grew into their own positions of authority in the household and the community. Things weren’t so different in the deep South during the time of the slavery in our own country. Many times, the slaves taught the sons and daughters of the landowners until the children moved back into the homes of their parents.
The Bible lets us know that there were many similarities between these scenarios and the Testaments of the Bible. Jesus lets us know that we were “schooled” under the law, meaning the Old Testament, until we learned the lessons that we were supposed to learn. And what were those lessons? That everybody falls short of being able to uphold the Old Testament laws. In other words, none of us is good enough to follow the commands of the law given to us in the Old Testament.
Then, when we had finally learned that lesson, God sent Jesus in human form to teach us that grace was the new way and that salvation wasn’t about following the law – it was about accepting the free gift of grace from God that resulted in eternal life. And no matter how good someone was, nobody could maintain the Old Testament standards and that we served a living God who extended His grace that allowed us to live in communion with Him.
Biblically speaking, Paul tells us in Galatians that we lived under the law until the time of Christ. In Galatians 3:24-25, we are told, “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.” Admittedly the King James version is a little difficult to understand, but basically it would have been very easy for people to identify with when it was written.
In short, we lived under the law, like living in the house of the slaves, until we learned all that we could learn. With the arrival of Christ, we learned something else – that Christ was the answer and that we could be justified by faith. That there was a better way, a newer way, lesson that we were now ready to learn and that couldn’t have been taught to us in the Old Testament. And, aside from all that, we “moved” into the house of the master and no longer lived in the home of the slaves.
That’s good news for all of us – in fact, it’s great news… My encouragement this evening is that you can live under grace as well. There is no need to think that you are confined to live under the law, because you can’t possibly meet that standard of performance. My prayer is that you will accept the gift of grace and thank God that you have been allowed to move back into the house of the “master.” The only way to get to heaven is to depend on the Father and His Son and trust what they have told us. So, have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…