For the past several years, Jon and I have tried to put together a Passover meal of sorts for the spark plugs. Each year varies slightly, but our goal is to serve grape juice, unleavened bread, and lamb while we have the kids take turns reading various Scripture passages that pertain to Passover and the Last Supper.
This is a great way to help everyone connect the Old Testament sacrificial system with Jesus' perfect sacrifice on the Cross.
This year, we had many of the traditional dishes: barbecued lamb, boiled eggs, bitter herbs with salt water, carbonated grape juice. But while the boiled eggs turned out perfectly, the gluten-free unleavened bread I tried to make flopped royally. It disintegrated into tiny, inedible crumbles. (We eventually pulled out some corn chips. While not at all traditional to the Passover, they were gluten free and unleavened. Even better was that they made a big snapping sound when broken, lending all the more to the visualization of Christ's body being broken for us.)
Next, the lamb, which Jon expertly barbecued, still had a bit of pink to it. While lamb can be eaten rare, unlike chicken, the Old Testament laws required meat to be well done. Ours tasted phenomenal, but it probably wouldn't have passed God's explicit cooking requirements.
As we read, prayed, and ate our Passover meal together this weekend, I couldn't help but notice how we couldn't even perfectly follow the laws regarding the meal preparation. The two crucial elements of the Exodus passover - the unleavened bread and the lamb - were the two items we most messed up.
It goes to show how impossible it would be to perfectly follow the whole of the Old Testament law. If salvation really did come from following the law, there would be no hope for any of us. We are imperfect people; we could never on our own be so exact that we could save ourselves.
And that was the Lord's entire point of giving us the law. It was to show us how imperfect we are (see Romans 7:7). It was to prove that we couldn't save ourselves, no matter how hard we try. It revealed the unbridgeable chasm that our sin has created between ourselves and a Holy God.
This was so obvious to me as we attempted to prepare our meal according to God's perfect standards.
It's why we needed Jesus to die in our place. It's why God sent His Son to Earth - He came to do for us what we couldn't do for ourselves. And He didn't do it because we deserved it or had somehow earned His favor. He came despite the fact that we were utterly undeserving of Eternity with Him.
The law demanded perfection that we couldn't give, so God prepared a way by sending His Son to die as a perfect sacrifice in our place. I don't dwell on this fact nearly enough. If I did, I would be a lot more humble than I am.
All of this goes against my perfectionist nature. I want to do things right. I want to follow God's instructions to a tee. I want to be able to make myself more acceptable to Him somehow.
In a weird sort of way, works-based religions appeal to my selfish, proud nature. In my arrogance, it seems natural to want to make myself more righteous so that God would look favorably upon me and choose me. But then I remember how pitifully I actually follow the Lord's commandments - how I couldn't even get the bread to turn out right for a simple Passover meal. (We won't even get into all of the Passover preparations God required that our family didn't even attempt to do; I was only trying to produce one loaf of unleavened bread!)
And it makes me all the more thankful that I can't do a single thing to earn my salvation. Because if it really were up to me to make myself holy, I would never be able to accomplish it. Our messed-up meal is clear evidence of that.
The law was never meant to save us. We were never meant to rescue ourselves from our sinful state; we could never produce the perfection that the law required. We were helpless and destitute and in dire need of a Perfect Savior.
How thankful I am that Jesus came to die a horrendous death so that I could be reunited to the Father. How grateful I am that we serve a merciful and graceful God, who loved us enough to send His own Son in our place.
How thankful I am that we are saved by grace, not by perfection.