Sunday, 26 February 2017

Moses Reaches the Promised Land

As we are told in the first chapter of John's Gospel, Jesus called James and John. And then Andrew, who brought his brother Peter.  And so you'd expect those first four disciples to be pretty close to Jesus.

Except. James, John and Peter. Absolutely. But Andrew - never invited to be one of those closest. The other three - off they go. Not Andrew. What, Andrew may have wondered, do I have to do to be part of the inner sanctum? Peter's a blockhead who makes rash promises. John and James are hotheads who want to blow up Samaritan villages. But I keep getting left behind...

You can imagine the scene before the Transfiguration.  Jesus - "OK - I just need those disciples closest to me - Andrew - what you doing? Can you just stick around?  Somebody... erm.... someone needs to keep an eye on  Simon the Zealot. Otherwise he just goes around being all zealous... OK Andrew? Thanks.  Big responsibility, you know.

Another person who never quite made it where he maybe most wanted to go: Moses. He took the People of God out of Egypt. Led them through the desert. Took them to the edge of the Promised Land - and then died. Just got a glimpse of it, laid out before him.

But Moses now stands in the Promised Land. Not through his own efforts, but by the gift of God. On a mountain, of course - where would Moses and Elijah be if it weren't for mountains? But he's now here. In the place where all his struggles and holiness couldn't bring him. With his feet on the holy ground to which he was called, and which his own strength could never carry him.

And Peter, James and John see there the revelation - that the Jesus whose feet gets dusty, who becomes tired with walking, who eats and drinks and sweats and excretes just like them - is also so much more.

He is revealed as the one the Law and the Prophets look forward to. The one Moses, without even knowing it, was called to - looking for a Promised Land and yet hoping for something beyond that. Jesus is the fulfilment of God's promises to Abraham and Jacob. The God of the living and the dead. And - it is soon to be revealed - God's one pure sacrifice.

So the disciples quake there, between earth and heaven, between all the faithfulness and hope of the past, and all the promises of the future. And they understand much more who Jesus is. And they know they are part of God's plan to save Israel - and the world.

Later on, sworn to secrecy till after Jesus comes into his glory, they go down the mountain. And there's Andrew, faithfully leading a bit of a Bible study. And he looks up to Peter and says, "anything happen up on the mountain?"

"Oh, you know," says Peter. "Just Jesus and stuff."

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