When a cancer metastasizes, doctors say it its hard to control. Medical experts know that once cancer cells relocate to the bone it’s too late. The same thing could be said of sin and righteousness (cf. Ezekiel 18:21-28). If you know someone caught in the cycle of sin, you ask, “Son of man, can these bones live?” (cf. Ezekiel 37) or is it too late? Thankfully, God extends His offer of redemption until our last breath.
The Scribes and Pharisees were experts in the jots and titles of the Torah. And yet, Jesus referred to them as ” whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead.”
In the New Testament, Jesus proposes a new kind of righteousness. Former Pharisee, Paul the Apostle wrote, “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved” (Romans 10:9) The righteousness of the heart surpasses the scribes and Pharisees (cf. Matthew 5:20).
The righteousness of the New Covenant extends to our bones.
Jesus summarizes the New Covenant righteousness in Mark 12:30-31, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.”
Saint Silouan the Athonite explains the love of God:
“Love of God takes various forms. The man who wrestles with wrong thoughts loves God according to his measure. He who struggles against sin, and asks God to give him strength not to sin, but yet falls into sin again because of his infirmity, and sorrows and repents – he possesses grace in the depths of his soul and mind, but his passions are not yet overcome. But the man who has conquered his passions now knows no conflict: all his concern is to watch himself in all things lest he fall into sin. Grace, great and perceptible, is his. But he who feels grace in both soul and body is a perfect man, and if he preserves this grace, his body is sanctified and his bones will make holy relics ( Veniamin, Christopher. The Orthodox Understanding of Salvation:Theosis in Scripture and Tradition (Page 39). Mount Thabor Publishing. Kindle Edition.)
” For the word of God is alive and active…it penetrates even to the joints and marrow”
Remember Elijah’s successor, the holy prophet Elisha? Scripture records his death and burial. 2 Kings 20, adds this footnote to Elisha’s gravesite, “Now Moabite raiders used to enter the country every spring. Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.”
In the New Covenant, we are all ‘Elisha’. When our bones cry out for the salvation of Adam’s race, we know our righteousness surpasses the scribes and Pharisees.