Too often I think that we skip over certain things, little details that matter to the whole of a story, in order for us to get the even bigger picture. There was a study done in which a basketball game was being played and the subjects were asked to watch the video. After the video, they were asked to talk about what they had seen. When it was all finished, the person conducting the study asked a weird question, “did you see the gorilla?” Now obviously I’m paraphrasing the story, but the point remains the same. The subjects were so focused on watching one thing that they completely missed all the details that would’ve added to the complete picture. I bring this up because sometimes even in Christianity, we can look at a passage of scripture and miss the bigger picture, solely because we are only looking at what we are conditioned to look at.
We’ve just finished the Easter celebration day this past Sunday, and I was afforded the opportunity to speak at a sunrise service; it was my FIRST one ever! What an awesome time that we had, worshipping together as the mosaic body of Christ that day (you see there is greater unity in diversity)! As I was preparing for that message, I ran across “the gorilla” of the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration. You might say there was no gorilla there, and that’s precisely my point, we’ve heard that story so many times that we have only focused on one area and we miss the bigger picture being discussed! Read Luke 9:28-31, “Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” There is a HUGE moment here, that doesn’t eclipse the Glory of Jesus begin revealed, but it certainly adds to the POWER of it.
It would be awesome to see Moses and Elijah showing up and talking with Jesus, in fact, I could see myself responding in the same manner as Peter, declaring that tabernacles should be built in honor of the moment! BUT it wasn’t who was talking with him that was important or even what Luke was focused on…NOPE…it was what they were talking about with Jesus! They were speaking about “his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem”. Even here, we pause and reflect and think to ourselves “they were talking about his resurrection and ascension” but that isn’t the case! It’s too easy to just talk about that, there had to be more! The word departure here means “exodus”. Wait, what? Exodus? Why whatever do you mean? I’m glad you asked! This is where the characters begin to take shape! When thinking about Exodus, we can only think about Moses leading one million Hebrew children out of Egypt, and 400 years of slavery, through the Red Sea, and into the promised land. But Israel wasn’t necessarily enslaved to Egypt, they were under Roman rule. According to scholars, Jesus would’ve aligned himself with those in Israel who believed in a Redemptive Activism. In other words, Jesus believed in the Redemption of Israel by the hand of the Lord. They believed that the reason that they were under foreign rule was because of sin as a nation, turning away from God and serving themselves as well as other gods. But redemption had to come at the price of repentance by Israel and a return to good works in order for God to bring the sweeping redemptive deliverance that they needed and wanted. Once they were delivered, they could then worship God in Freedom as they had done before the exile. Jesus came to pay the price to begin repentance! He was and is the perfect spotless lamb who was slain for the sins of not just Israel, but ALL of Humanity! They had to be delivered from the enslavement of sin and oppression because of their sin! Thus Moses arrives to talk it out with Jesus! I wonder how that conversation actually went…So then why is Elijah present? Glad you asked again! Elijah as a prophet was one whose main goal was to go throughout the land of Israel and speak on God’s behalf against sin and unrighteous acts, bringing the people to a place of reconnection with God through Repentance and restoration. He has some pretty cool stories to go along with ministry, but the main point is keeping the fires burning through returns to righteous living before God (remember the prophets of Baal?).
Two very KEY figures in the redemption, restoration, and life of Israel, and they both have come to talk about the exodus that Jesus was about to accomplish in Jerusalem! Jesus was bringing an Exodus that would be more powerful and freeing than the Historical deliverances of both Moses and Elijah. Not just because it was for Israel, but because it was for me and you too! Luke is relaying this not to a Jewish audience only, but to a Greek man named Theophilus who most likely commissioned Luke to recount the truth of Jesus’ ministry and the future impact of that Ministry. The fact that Luke uses the word “accomplish” tells us that it wasn’t a work he was starting, it was a work he was FINISHING! This of course leads us to the title of this blog, “He is Risen”. You see Jesus was paving the way for repentance and redemption through His Blood, and he was sealing and finishing the work, by establishing Freedom over sin, death, hell, and the grave by His Resurrection! The accomplishment of Jesus’ Exodus took place with the very first stripe he bore on his body till the stone was rolled away by an angel of the Lord 3 days later!
Today, we can celebrate that Jesus has led us out of captivity and enslaved captivity (Ephesians 4:18), by His Blood and Resurrection. YOU ARE LIVING THE EXODUS OF JESUS! Let’s rejoice by letting these lyrics be the song we sing as we are walking out of Enslavement and into OUR PROMISE…