“No wait! Please don’t sit there!” The guest was unaware that, since their son, Jim, had been deployed to the Middle East, they set a special place for him at their dinner table. No one sat there. They made that rule to honor his service and act out their yearning for his return. The end slice from the roast was Jimmy’s, too. “We don’t eat that, not until Jimmy comes home.”
Which, one day, he did, along with a buddy from his unit. When that friend unknowingly sat in the special chair, no one said a word. It no longer mattered because their son was home.
Many dietary restrictions and rituals of the Old Testament were established to prepare people for the coming of God’s Son as Messiah. But the purpose of those practices was fulfilled with the arrival of Jesus. That is why followers of Jesus no longer practice much of Jewish rituals. It is not that they were meaningless or wrong but that their purpose has been fulfilled in Christ. Even the most solemn Day of Atonement has been fulfilled by the atoning sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus.
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. – (Matthew 5:17)
Speaking of those ritualistic practices and restrictions, Paul wrote:
16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. – (Colossians 2:16-17)
If the fictional family above had continued to insist no one sit in the special chair or eat the end slice, thinking that somehow that would serve as a way they could participate in or pay for Jim’s service, it would resemble the illogical actions of those who turn the old rituals into a kind of discipline or means of penance. But that, too, misses the point:
… 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. – (Colossians 2:23)
There’s no point in doing that stuff and you don’t score any points, either.