Posted by: lepages | November 18, 2009

Reflections…. one for sorrow….. two for joy!!

My journey down to Waverley Abbey on Monday was a nightmare! Left earliest yet…. arrived latest yet!! And saw a solitary magpie on the way! Took the decision to go home a different route via A34 – longer, but maybe better. Well…. it was longer…. over 50% longer…. used a good bit more fuel…. 😦 and took a long time – nearly 3 hours… but it was a much more pleasant drive…. but don’t think I’ll do it again!

Between the two journeys though, what a day!! An excellent time continuing Philip Greenslade’s teaching on God’s Redemptive Story – this time coming to a session headed ‘God is committed to fulfilling all his promises in Jesus.’ It was excellent and enlightening. Some excellent background material on the situation amongst the Jews at the time of Jesus to provide a context, followed by an analysis of how Jesus ‘fulfilled’ the Law – taken in its broadest sense as the Torah in its wholeness.

I have to admit to occasionally having struggled with how some verses are quoted as being fulfilled in Jesus and yet seem to be taken out of their original context, and the fact that some were already written in past tense. Philip’s helpful unpacking of how Matthew showed Jesus ‘fulfilling’ the Law, the Torah brought this together in an inspiring way.

Matthew begins with his genealogy – focused on the two significant events in Jewish history – the Exodus from slavery in Egypt and the return from Exile in captivity.

Just a few parallels drawn through the day.

The coming of John the Baptist heralds the end of spiritual Exile and heralds the one who is coming to save his people, Yeshua (Matthew 1:21ff) Jesus mirrors Joshua leading people into a new physical land by leading people into a new spiritual land of salvation.

In Jesus’ birth narratives there are echoes of the Exodus and the Exile. In Matthew 2 Joseph had a dream which took him to Egypt – interesting parallels with Joseph in the Old Testament!! “Out of Egypt I have called my son” – not past tense – ‘my son’ is referring to the people of Israel – Hosea 11:1

How is Jesus fulfilling then? Its not about fulfilling a future prophecy, but by recapturing the story of the people of Israel. In Jesus there is a new Exodus under way.

The Exile is brought into focus also. Jeremiah is quoted describing the pain and grief of those living under Exile, and this is echoed in the pain of those who went through the pain of losing their children as Herod ordered the killing of young children.

Jesus gathers up both ends of Israel’s story and brings them to fulfilment in himself.

In Matthew 3:13-15 Jesus comes to be baptised ‘to fulfil all righteousness’ and receives the affirmation from his Father of ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’

This affirmation has echoes of Psalm 2:7 where the anointed one is portrayed as a King and of Isaiah 42:1ff where he is portrayed as a Servant – and so we have the Servant King, and at his baptism Jesus is launched into this dual role.

To ‘fulfil all righteousness’ means more though – its about fulfilment of God’s covenant with his people. When God acts to save he acts to fulfil his covenant promises. Jesus has come to embody and enact fulfilment of God’s covenant faithfulness in acting to save and vindicate his people.

In Matthew 4 we have Jesus being led out into the wilderness to face temptations for 40 days, paralleling the 40 years in the wilderness of the people of Israel – except that he confronts the temptations and conquers them where they failed. All Jesus’ answers to Satan’s temptations are taken from Deuteronomy, reaffirming God’s covenant wit his people.

Matthew 5-7 portrays the Sermon on the Mount, which could be compared with Moses giving of the Law.

Later we have Jesus calling 12 of his disciples as apostles, paralleling the 12 tribes of Israel.

Jesus fulfilled the Torah in the circumstances and way in which he lived out his life. But he also fulfilled the other thing central to Jewish life, the Temple, in himself. The Temple was the dwelling place of God, but Jesus became the dwelling place of God – Immanuel – God with us. He said, referring to himself ‘Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days’, taking the term Temple to himself.

He also reorientated the central feast in Jewish tradition – the Passover. He moved the focus from the blood of goats and lambs to his body and his blood, poured out for the salvation of many, so that he becomes central to the Exodus of his people.

Matthew finishes his gospel looking forward to entering the new land, just as Moses looked into the Promised Land and encouraged his people to go forward into the land with the Torah in the knowledge that God would be with them, so Jesus encourages his people to go into this new world teaching people what I have taught you, saying I will be with you. Immanuel, God with us.

The Great commission is the commission of the King, and signifies a renewal of the Abrahamic covenant to be a blessing to all nations.

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19,20 Holman Christian Standard Bible.

I didn’t see two magpies at Waverley, but there should have been if the sayings are true ….. one for sorrow…. two for joy…. and inspite of the travel, there was great joy 🙂 in reflecting on the wonder of what our God has done for us in Jesus and how he has fulfilled all righteousness, all his covenant promises in him! Praise God!!

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