Stump the Pastor: Should Christians Celebrate Jewish Feasts?

The whole issue at stake in “Should Christians Celebrate Jewish Feasts?” is the word “should.” The New Testament teaches, “You can celebrate the feasts,” and “You can choose not to celebrate the feasts.” This is true also of receiving circumcision, wearing clothes of a single fabric, and eating kosher. From the Council of Jerusalem (see both Acts 10 for backstory and Acts 15 for the council), we know that no Christian under the New Covenant is obligated to obey the ceremonial laws of the Old Covenant. In fact, the entire book of Galatians warns against people who think Christians need to or must celebrate such things, and if they have begun to think those Old Covenant practices are related to spiritual maturity, they stumble in their understanding of saving faith and sanctification by Jesus Christ (see especially Galatians 3:1-14).

I have personally and our church has corporately participated in reenactments of Passover Meals and building Booths in order to understand the original historical significance of those celebrations and their pointing forward to the work of Jesus Christ. But if a Christian begins to think they have to or others have to celebrate this meal in order to be a “good/better Christian” or an “obedient Christian,” they are falling back under the Old Covenant. With the dawning of the New Covenant (see Jeremiah 31 and the book of Hebrews), we put aside the Temple, sacrifices, and Old Covenant practices because they were only a shadow of the reality to come, namely Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:1-14).

Therefore, if celebrating these things helps you love and treasure Jesus Christ, the freedom of the gospel, and the covenant of grace, then feel free to practice them. If, however, they tempt you to put confidence in your obedience to Old Covenant practices, it would be wise to quit these things and spend time focusing on the fruit of the Spirit, love, justice, mercy, etc. Likewise, if you find professing Christians who are trying to put you under the yoke of Old Testament practices (Acts 15:10; Galatians 5:1), we should stand up like Paul and Peter did in the Jerusalem Council and declare that salvation is by grace and our boast is in Jesus Christ alone (Acts 15:11; see also Galatians 6:12-15).

Beware my friends, the creep of legalism can occur in the 21st century just as it did in the 1st century. Check out this sermon from June 18, 2017 for more on this: http://cornerstone-marion.org/2017/06/18/june-18-2017-luke-1614-18-life-on-my-own-terms-part-1/