Your New Identity
Easter means that we have the identity of Christ: we're dead and alive in him.
At age 95, Rabbi Hershel Schachter died in the Bronx, New York. A name that doesn't mean much to most of you, but a few of you will remember an event 69 years ago that made Rabbi Hershel Schachter famous. Patton's third army had just liberated Buchenwald and one hour later Rabbi Schachter was the first Jewish chaplain to enter the concentration camp. There he found what we now know by newsreels to be reality—hundreds of starving men piled in bunks from floor to ceiling. Though they had been freed, they remained in their barracks. After all, those who now came and claimed to be liberators were in uniform, just as their captors had been for years, and they suspected that new uniforms just meant new oppression and new abuse, and they would not leave the barracks. Until Rabbi Schachter spoke to them in their own language: "Shalom Aleichem, Yidden, Ihr zint frei!"—"Peace be upon you, Jews, you are free!" The words of freedom from one that they knew to be their own created first a trickle and then a stream of men out of that one barracks, then the stream became a flood as they went from barrack, to barrack, to barrack with the words, "You are free, you are free, you are free."
These are not words unlike what the Apostle Paul is uttering here in Galatians chapter 2. After all, those in Galatia are now gathering under the banner of Jesus Christ. But Jews are gathering together with Gentiles, and though they have been freed from trying to make their performance, their labor, what makes them right with God, they are falling back into the sense of what we must do to make ourselves acceptable to God.
It becomes not only shackles to them but shackles to the Gentiles who are beginning to worship with them. People ...
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Bryan Chapell is the senior pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria, Illinois.