Through the New Testament in a Year

Today's Reading – Luke 9:28-50 – A new exodus

Once again the gospel writers show us how Jesus fulfils not only what was promised in the Old Testament but also all that God was doing with his people in those days. Jesus is the focus and fulfilment of all of the purposes of God.

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Jesus took Peter, James and John with him up a mountain where he spent time in prayer. As he prayed, his appearance changed and his clothing shone as brightly as a flash of lightning. The disciples saw two men talking with Jesus whom, somehow, they realised were Moses and Elijah. Luke records that they were speaking with Jesus about his "exodus" that he was "about to bring to fulfilment in Jerusalem" (Luke 9:31).

My use of the term "exodus" here is simply a transliteration of the Greek work used by Luke – a word often translated as "departure". But I can't help thinking that Luke chooses this word as a deliberate echo of the central theme of the second book in the Hebrew Scriptures. Moses had been used of God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. He had been the leader of their exodus. The prophets had spoken of the way in which Israel's unfaithfulness would lead to a new captivity and would require another exodus. Now Moses and Elijah are speaking with Jesus about the greater exodus that he is about to accomplish in Jerusalem.

Jesus' death and resurrection will be the means by which he will lead his people out of captivity and into the freedom of his kingdom; a kingdom in which they will be freed to serve God. On the night that Jesus was betrayed he celebrated a Passover meal with his disciples. Through that meal they remembered how God had rescued the children of Israel from Egypt.

On that first Passover night the Israelites had taken a lamb and killed it. The blood was painted around the doorway into their houses and they remained in the house that night eating lamb and flat bread. During that night, God had come down in judgment and the firstborn son in every house in Egypt had been struck dead. The blood had protected the Israelites; when God saw the blood on the doorway he passed over their homes and they were safe. The Israelites had been saved by the blood of the lamb. There was a death in every house in Egypt that night; in the Egyptian houses the death of the firstborn; in the Israelite houses the death of a lamb.

And so the Israelites were expelled from Egypt. They were set free. They achieved their exodus.

At that Last Supper with his disciples, Jesus took the elements of the Passover meal, the bread and the wine, and he applied them to himself and to his death which was only hours away. Christ our Passover was about to be sacrificed and because of his death and resurrection God’s judgment has passed over us and we are saved. We have been set free and he is leading us out of all that has held us captive to the place he has prepared for us. He has accomplished our exodus.

And he calls us to remember continually what he has done for us. He took bread and wine from the Passover meal to act as reminders of his death because they formed the staple diet of the first century disciples. They were to remember daily what Jesus had done for them. They were to celebrate together their freedom in Christ and proclaim his dying love and risen power to all.

Lord Jesus, thank you that your death and resurrection brings freedom. Help me to follow you as you lead me by your Spirit through the wilderness of this present world. Keep me from the desire to turn back to the secure captivity from which you have set me free. Help me daily to remember what you have done for me and to declare your praises, for you have called me out of the kingdom of darkness into your wonderful light.

Peter Misselbrook