Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from me and the Snowman

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Rainbow and the Covenant

Whilst stirring my oatmeal in the morning I usually read my current Patrick O’Brian novel. Having just completed the series again, I was reading instead 1001 Pearls of Bible Wisdom by Malcolm Day. Regular readers know I have no qualms about posting religious insight along with the philosophical, be it from the Bible or the Talmud or the Koran. I was reading the section about forgiveness and reconciliation. 
All my life, I have always had a hard time understanding how Jesus could ‘die for our sins’. Why should God forgive us because Jesus died on the cross? I understood that Jesus asked God to ‘forgive them for they know not what they do’ but why should He? And it was always strange to me that, for such a central concept, I had not come across any explanations, no elaboration about why this should be.

Well, at 53, stirring my porridge one morning, I finally understood why.

The Rainbow and the Covenant

After the flood that destroyed all living things, except those taken into Noah’ ark, God made a covenant, or pledge, with humanity never to devastate the Earth again. As a reminder of his promise he placed a rainbow in the sky: ‘I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant…” (Genesis 9:13).  The covenant was fulfilled in the Passion of Christ. Jesus straddles the divide between human wrongdoing and God’s judgment and, through the Crucifixion, enables God to be reconciled with sinful humanity. People no longer need to endure God’s wrath – their sins are forgiven.

And following this introduction we read …

… in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them … 2 Corinthians 5:19

In Jesus God took on the form and condition of a man, open to fear, weakness and pain. Yet Jesus could ask God to forgive his persecutors while on the cross. Thus God could see that there was some good in man, despite his sins. Thus he was reconciled and the covenant fulfilled.

I am reminded of that quote we saw in Into Great Silence:

Behold I am become human. If you should not want to join me in becoming God, you would do me wrong.

Image by Brian Parton

Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)

Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)
Kiyomizudera Temple has a large veranda looking out over Kyoto and beyond