The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, is a truly beautiful place, inside and out. I love the antiquities area, as you can walk through ancient Egypt and gawk at the real-live (pardon the pun) mummy. I especially appreciate the artwork from the days of the early church. In one glassed-in case resides a “reliquary”, a silver ornate depository of some sainted person’s finger bone, or so they say. Who “they” are, I’m not sure. Evidently, there was supposedly something special about the bones of any saint so-and-so, and to have one was quite a boon back in the day, a bit higher on the scale than, say, a rabbit’s foot.
Mark Twain makes a point in one of his books that, in visiting the Holy Land, one can procure enough pieces of the Cross to make several crosses altogether. (Typical Samuel C. satire.) Such is the human need for the tangible, regardless of its authenticity.
Because of this tendency, my faith can tend to lapse into superstition based on what I can see or control, rather than on a Person I can neither see nor control. No wonder God had one of His prophet write this:
“Now let them stop worshiping other gods and honoring the relics of their kings, and I will live among them forever.”
It is with our five senses that we learn to manage things. That’s not a bad thing, until we apply the same concept to our relationship and understanding of the Unmanageable Deity. Seemingly, this is at least part of what was happening with the Pharisees during the time of Jesus. The Law had become an entity of its own, something that was encapsulated within a glass case (so to speak) as an untouchable/unattainable burden to the people rather then an invitation from the God Who was trying to reveal Himself. And Jesus was not too happy about the outcome:
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.”
Contrast that with Jesus’ comment that He came to give us life, and that abundantly.
Which is a far cry better than being a mummified rabbit’s foot.
Ezekiel 43:9; Matthew 23:27 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.