Pine Shores Presbyterian Church has asked me to teach a class for the next month and a half leading up to Palm Sunday. It's pretty exciting to teach Sunday school again, so I'll give you a preview of what will happen. I call the subject, "The Inevitability of the Cross." I had asked the question about some alternative solution to the problem of temple sacrifice as well as the overwhelming difficulty of the holiness code in Leviticus, which attempted to teach those ancient people how to be perfect and acceptable to God. This was not an easy task realizing that there well over 300 laws which had to be kept every day. If I were one of those ancients, I would have committed at least 10 sins just getting from the bed to the bathroom.
I will begin with Genesis and the chaos God faced — I am speaking anthropomorphically — and the steps He took moving from disorder to cosmos, or order. To shorten a long story, when God finished this creation, some remember that He said, "It is good!" God actually said, "It is very good!"
Now we are talking about the earth, the creatures (including the snake), the vegetation, the humans and a caveat. "Don't eat from that tree over there!" I still believe the tree was full of okra and not Granny Smith apples.
One thing God gave in creation — which we hesitate to discuss — was free will. Whether we want to bring the snake into the conversation is debatable, as it was part of the 'very good,' but we can't excuse our ancestors of first class sin even if these poor creatures were too naïve to understand the difference between obedience and instant gratification. By the way — and this is uncontestable — God said, "I am sorry I made people!" Yes, there is a conflict when we read Numbers 23:19, but I stand fast with Exodus 32:14 and Genesis 6:6.
As this new class begins the search, we will cover as much information as we can by looking at the sacrificial system as far back as the conflict between Cain and Abel, Abraham and Isaac and especially the very detailed system in Leviticus. What I will be trying to do is to support the understanding of the attempt to appease God through ritual sacrifice and righteous living.
Life is hard! Mistakes happen! We find ourselves like old Paul who confessed, "I know what is good and what is bad, so why do I find myself out of control and unable to be good enough?"
I strongly believe that Paul, a devout Jew who became the great Apostle, must have been torn between the ritual of the Hebrew and the freedom of the Messiah. That — I also believe — is why he had the brilliance to write about the struggle between earning salvation and accepting free salvation based on faith and not on works.
This is what I will try to teach. I will end my class on Palm Sunday with the question, "Now that Jesus is in Jerusalem, what will He face, what will He suffer, and what will happen to us this next week? We must be present in this sanctuary to hear the Good News! When we find out the answer to all our questions, what an Easter it will be!"