I'm sure you have felt a disconnect between Jesus' ministry and Paul's. If you have not, you might have come across people who express that sentiment. In his biography of Paul, N. T. Wright gives me a better understanding of what Jesus being the fulfilment and the only true Israelite meant. He paints a picture of how weighty but scandalous the things Jesus and later, Paul, said. He explains what made a typical Jew tick, their perception of the gentiles and how fatal the slightest compromise of the Torah meant.
Putting myself in the shoes of the Jews, I felt Jesus, Stephen and Paul really deserved all that happened to them. Don't get me wrong. In reading any literary work, you have to embody some of the characters to really understand it. So I'm assuming the posture of a strict adherent of the Torah, albeit without the correct interpretation. I learnt from Pastor Obed that Jesus coming to fulfil the Law meant He came to interpret it correctly.
Think of it this way. You see the lengths some monarchies will go just to preserve their heritage, culture, etc. The slightest thing that smacks of challenging their deeply held beliefs will be met with the wildest aggression. The dude comes to town and wants to tear down the Temple of Jerusalem and has no regard for the Law? Damn!!! "Who born you by mistake"? Yeah, I mentioned the Temple of Jerusalem and the Torah. Think of it as someone trashing the most symbolic monument in the Asante land or in Britain. It was that serious. Paul also appears to downplay circumcision. Smh. That's why you hear questions like: "Are you greater than our father, Abraham"?
What makes things a little complex is, people like Phinehas and Elijah are rewarded for their zealousness and defence of Israel's integrity. Phinehas pierced a Jew who had an affair with a Moabite woman with a sword. God rewarded him for that righteous act. I'm not using my apologetics lens. Don't dwell much on the morality of that act. The point is, an open display of zeal for God is rewarded. A committed Jew will not miss an opportunity to defend the Law of God and the Temple against any apparent blasphemy or compromise. This explains Paul's zeal. It was well-intentioned.
I think this part may be off tangent but let me proceed anyway. I'm kinda big on examining and identifying patterns of human behaviour. I've always concluded that WE ARE ALL (fallen) HUMANS - a no-brainer init?. Most human behaviours can span across multiple cultures and dispensations. Now to the main point. Why was it difficult for the Jews to accept Jesus Christ and His interpretation. He clearly points out the inconsistencies in their beliefs and practices from the same Torah. Paul clearly explains that the covenant came before circumcision. The circumcision was just a seal.
Yet all they strived to do was eliminate them. Do you know the reason? There was a lot of cultural and political twist. Their context was quite complex. From maintaining their dominance as Religious leaders to being in the good books of the Roman authority, it was very nuanced. They had built a mammoth institution and system fostered by this wrong understanding. What Jesus Christ was doing was very countercultural. In fact, He was stirring up a hornet's nest. He was challenging the very foundation of society. They wouldn't tolerate that. Not the least!!!
If we sincerely want to worship God, however, it appears we have been wrong for a long time. Why is changing frowned upon? Especially when we have received a clear explanation. That is when you see a pattern where men want to be regulators of God's ways. I think God is a master iconoclast. He wouldn't have man build anything on a foundation of self. Jesus Christ is the sure foundation. And trust me, God will shake every building whose foundation is not Jesus Christ. God gives a material means as an expression of His providence or means of grace. Man ends up idolizing it.
The substance of the ritual is often lost. The Jews love the temple, not the God of the temple. A bronze snake is used as a means of deliverance. Fast forward, it becomes Nehushtan which they worship. If we could confirm that the Shroud of Turin really has Jesus' face, I won't be surprised if people start worshipping it. If Paul's apron was kept in a Museum, it would have been an idol by now. Something to be depended on for divine healing. I must confess, I'm the least instructed in the mystical part of Spirituality. I always cringe at the excitement/value some Christians attach to say, the Bible used by a famous late MoG/WoG, their Prayer shawl or any personal effects, often desiring to inherit that material stuff. Maybe we have an example in Elisha taking the mantle of Elijah.
Tying the 2 parts of this lengthy piece together, I encourage us to be open to being corrected even if we've built the most beautiful ministry on a foundation of untruth, half-truth or perverted truths. Let's not be so bent on rituals that we miss the substance. It will be helpful to remind ourselves of the essence of practice so that we change if it's no longer applicable. Our allegiance is to Jesus Christ. Paul encourages us to be wise builders on that foundation. Don't let your ego/reputation be so tied to any institution or anything you've built that you fight any change you know deep down in your heart is sanctioned by God.