1 Kings 21:1-21a
Peace be with you!
In the musical Les Miserables, Jean Valjean is an ex-convict who stole a piece of bread for his niece. Upon coming out of prison, Valjean is determined to turn away from the harsh life of prison and help those in need no matter the consequences. However, Valjean has also broken parole and is hiding from the police. He has his own factory where he gives women jobs to support their families. Javert is the police inspector who releases Valjean after warning him what will happen if he breaks the law. Javert believes the law comes before anything else in life. When he finds Valjean after several years of thinking he was dead, Javert is determined to bring him back into custody.
Paul is writing Galatians because the Jewish Christians are telling them they have to earn their way into Heaven by doing good works. The Jewish Christians believe that they have to be justified by their works. They have to keep the laws handed down to them by Moses and their ancestors.
However, Paul writes that the Galatians are justified by their faith in Jesus Christ who died for their sins on the cross. There is no way anyone can earn their way into Heaven on their own merit (Galatians 2:16). If we live according to the law, we are dead (Galatians 2:19) because we cannot fulfill the law on our own. We have nothing without Jesus Christ dying on the cross. Jesus’ crucifixion, death, and resurrection give us life with the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
If we believe we can be justified by the law, then Jesus died for nothing (Galatians 2:21). This is not the case because we cannot uphold the law on our own. Our sinful nature has been crucified through Jesus and now we can have life and know God the Father.
Paul calls the Galatians to live by faith in Jesus Christ who gave up his life out of love for them (Galatians 2:20). God did not have to send Jesus to die for our sins, but he loves us so deeply he gives us eternal life in him. There is nothing we can do to undo his love for us. By living in faith, we receive the gift of life given to us through Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, death, and resurrection.
In Les Miserables, Valjean and Javert meet in different situations over the years. Somehow Valjean always escapes and goes into hiding until Javert finds him again. At one point Valjean has an opportunity to kill Javert, but he lets him go. Javert realizes Valjean lives by a different moral code than the strict law. Valjean strives to help those who cannot help themselves even if it means breaking a law. This is what Paul is telling the Galatians. It is better to love each other than to judge one another. When we love each other, we are living out our faith in Jesus Christ.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for having Jesus Christ die for our sins so we can have life. Help us to live according your word. Remind us we are nothing without your love and grace. Thank you for life in your son Jesus Christ. Amen.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the comment covenant.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
1. How do people live by the law? Why?
2. How do people live out their faith?