Pickle jars can be tough. A new pickle jar can be tough for an adult to open but to a five year old it might as well be impossible. The jars are sealed warm so that as the contents cool the lid caves in just a bit. That way the button “pops” when you open it letting you know the jar has been locked up air tight since it was packed, giving you the piece of mind that the contents have not been tampered with. While I appreciate the safety feature understanding it doesn’t make the lid any easier to open. There’s nothing a kindergartner appreciates more than Mommy or Daddy reaching their arms around and popping loose that impossible lid.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul offers several analogies of what the Law is like. He never says the Law is bad; he compares it to a tutor or a guardian that watches over a child until he is old enough to take legal possession of an inheritance. He draws an analogy between Abraham’s child born to Hagar and to the child of promise born to Sarah. The New Testament uses many symbols, visual imagery, to help us understand who Jesus is and what he does. Sometimes he’s the lamb and at other times the shepherd. Understanding Jesus as our great High Priest made sense to Hebrews reading the Book of Hebrews but let me suggest an image for our contemporary audience, one that even a child can understand.
It was impossible for any person to keep the Law and make themselves righteous. Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets. We can come into the presence of God the Father because of the righteousness of his Son and not any good that we have done. Jesus took what was impossible for us to accomplish and offers it as a free gift. Like when you couldn’t open that stubborn jar of pickles, and with a firm hand Daddy popped that right open. You tried as hard you as could. Your eyes were clenched, your jaw was set, you strained until red in the face. And Daddy (or Mommy, or other helpful adult) popped it loose like it was nothing. But you are still holding the jar and you get to eat the pickles. And that’s what Jesus is like.