Remember back on Day 1, when I talked about our journey through the Word as reading a love story? “The story of God’s relationship with mankind.”
The love story has already hit a few twists and turns, but in today’s readings we see our hero (God, of course) in the process of two miracles of salvation — in quite contrasting fashions.
First, in Exodus, we have the Israelites with their collective backs against a wall, so to speak: a wall of water, with an angry Egyptian army closing in, and at the last minute, God pulls off the most theatrical rescue imaginable.
Talk about a grand gesture, eh? The salvation of the Israelites was a huge production, with a cast of thousands, and a massive special effects budget. The children of God were elated! The song of praise they sang (with Miriam and her tambourine girls as backup dancers) must have been epic after such a mighty display of God’s power. Whew!
Of course, three days later, and the people were already back to complaining. Two chapters later, they were questioning God. Not long after that, they were making and worshiping idols while Moses was off meeting with God.
Such a fickle bride, Israel was. We’ll see this over and over again as we read the Old Testament, leading up to the days of our New Testament reading, when God was again preparing a miracle of salvation — this time not only for Israel, but the whole world.
By this time, God’s master plan, foreshadowed in Genesis 3, was in full swing:
14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring[a] and hers;
he will crush[b] your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
But before the serpent’s head was crushed, the Messiah’s heel would be bruised (as the King James says)… and Jesus, knowing his betrayal, torture and agonizing death were imminent, is shown here in silent suffering, asking God if all this was really, truly necessary.
Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ notwithstanding, this scene is pretty much the polar opposite of a theatrical production. One man, weeping alone in a garden in the middle of the night, his friends dozing off and getting ready to deny they ever knew him.
Instead of jubilant hordes singing praises to God and dancing, we’re about to see angry crowds demanding Jesus’ death.
Instead of women with tambourines, we have his mother and a few close friends, watching in horror and sorrow and disbelief as an innocent man died an agonizing death.
He knew it was coming, and He faced it all, solely out of love for us.
We have here a miracle of salvation.
We have the grandest gesture of them all.