Leviticus has always been a difficult book to navigate, so congratulations on finishing it! For Christians today, the rules and regulations are more than a little confusing. It is difficult for us to fully understand the Old Testament covenantal law because we live under the new covenant. The word “If” appears more than 20 times in today’s Levitical reading alone. “If you do such and such ... then the Lord promises to act accordingly.” Obey the law and things go super well, ignore the law and watch your life implode around you.
Luke 1 meshes together these very different old and new covenants. In foretelling the miraculous births of John the Baptist and Jesus, the Lord reminds us of the fulfillment of the will of God through the new covenant. Yes, John’s parents (Zechariah and Elizabeth) were “righteous in the sight of God” (they kept the law), and Mary was one who found great favour with God. However, it was still the greater and grander redemptive narrative resulting in the arrival of Jesus and the creation of a brand new relationship with God.
And the word “if” is not nearly as prevalent and consequential in this brand new covenant. No longer are the blessings of God available to us if we meet certain conditions. The efficacy of the covenant isn’t based on our good works. Every spiritual blessing is available to us in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3). We don’t get these blessings on the basis of what we do or don’t do, but from what Jesus did for us.
When asked how he is doing, my good friend Bill Gwynn always answers, “I’m highly favoured and wonderfully blessed!” Somehow by God’s grace, Mary’s story (v28) has become our story! Our obedience to God’s truth is no longer based on obligation or fear but love and gratitude. We don’t do good things to earn the status of being viewed as “good people.” Rather, we do good things because God has already made us good in Jesus.
Highly favoured and wonderfully blessed! We could all learn a lot from Bill!
A pastor who delights in congregants like Bill Gwynn, who teach him daily about the “overwhelming, never ending, reckless love of God!”