What ‘Part of New’ Don’t You Understand?

Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment: “love one another as I have loved you”  (cf. John 15:34)   

God’s new commandment is the short answer to why we have 27 books referred to as the “New” Testament.    Jesus is the “New Moses”.  We are the “New Creation”.    Everything is new.

 “The altar of the New Covenant is the Lord’s Cross, from which the sacraments of the Paschal mystery flow. On the altar, which is the center of the church, the sacrifice of the Cross is made present under sacramental signs. The altar is also the table of the Lord, to which the People of God are invited. In certain Eastern liturgies, the altar is also the symbol of the tomb (Christ truly died and is truly risen). (The Catholic Catechism)

Loving your enemy as yourself is part of the “New Testament.” 

God ordered Jonah to “set out for the great city Ninevah (Israel’s most feared foe) and preach against it”.   Jonah interpreted Leviticus 19:18 as a command to “love your friends like yourself.”   Even though it was unstated, the opposite must be true too: “Hate your enemies.”    In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus is tested by a lawyer asking, “who is my neighbor?”  Jesus deliberately hides the identity of the victim (cf. “a certain man”) and includes Israel’s century-old “enemy” Samaria as its main subject.   Why?  Both Jonah and the lawyer believed spreading God’s net of forgiveness to your enemy ran counter to God’s kingdom.  They needed a paradigm change.

God used a miracle to change his paradigm. 

God understands how difficult it is for some of us to align ourselves to God’s purpose.   His ways are completely out of our league.    But intuitively, we know God is merciful.

Even though Jonah’s theological mind required judgment for Ninevah, his heart believed in His mercy.  Jonah 4:2 states:  “O LORD, is this not what I said while I was still in my own country? This is why I fled at first toward Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, abounding in kindness, repenting of punishment.”

Even Famous Christians need Paradigm Shifts. Jesus and Peter spent three years together.  Peter received the gift of Pentecost and was known for his boldness and power.    He still needed a paradigm shift.   Acts 10:9-16 records it:

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” 14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” 15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” 16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. Cornelius à Lapide. (1908). The Great Commentary of Cornelius à Lapide: S. Luke’s Gospel. (T. W. Mossman, Trans.) (Fourth Edition, Vol. 4, p. 257). Edinburgh: John Grant.

We don’t know if and when Jonah’s view of God’s kingdom changed (too bad no chapter 5!) but Scripture describes how difficult it was for Peter.   After a few years,  Peter reverted back to his old mindset and needed the Apostle Paul’s stern correction.  Paul asks Peter, “What part of New Don’t You Understand”? (cf. Galatians 2, “But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. 12 When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised.”)

Becoming new wineskins is beyond our ability. 

Daily, we need the new wine of the Covenant and fresh wind of the Holy Spirit to stay on the New Covenant road. 

Author: gbradepp

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