Jesus' New Exodus
Unlike other gods, Jesus isn't far away. He doesn't wait for us to find Him on some distant mountaintop. He's near us now, nearer to us than our next breath. He's true God, begotten of His Father from all eternity. He's true man born of the Virgin Mary. He's your Lord. He's our God.
However, Jesus' disciples don’t get this. But wouldn't we miss it too? Wouldn't we do the same as Peter, for example, when Jesus is transformed before him on the Mount of Transfiguration? If we saw Jesus shine like the sun wouldn't we also want to stay on that mountain with Him forever?
If we could have God on our terms, God only for us, God doing what we want Him to do and saying what we want Him to say without anyone else around to mess it up, wouldn't we want that for ourselves? Wouldn't we want to camp out on the mountain, just us and God? Simple and safe, with everything in front of us under control. And the truth is, God does keep things childishly simple for our sake, but He’s not safe. We can’t control Him.
He does what He does. He says what He says. He can’t be bought, bribed, or fought. He doesn’t lose, even when it appears that He's defeated by sin and death, He still wins in the power of His resurrection. And as much as we may convince ourselves it's true, God isn’t on our team. We're sinners. Selfish. Team Me-First. Our wants and desires are wholly driven by selfishness, just like Peter, James, John, and all the disciples. That's why, when Peter is overwhelmed by Jesus' shining like the sun, he rambles on about how this could be the best camp out ever. He goes on like that until the cloud, and God's majesty show up, and the Father speaks from the cloud, “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him!”
“Listen to Him, Peter. Shut your mouth. Kill all your ideas about God, and how God should be worshiped, and how you can stay here with God always. Instead, fix your eyes on Jesus. Trust His words. Cling to His promises."
On the mountain where He's transfigured, Jesus reveals that everything in the Old Testament points to Him. It all focuses on the true Exodus that will take place when He dies on the Cross. When Jesus dies, God saves His people from slavery to sin and death and hell. There, in Jerusalem, on the tree, God shows His love for His people. God dies for His people.
Jesus dies because there aren’t two gods: the brutal, savage, vengeful God of the Old Testament, and the kind, sweet, gentle God of the New Testament. Jesus is the Lord God of the Old and New Testament. Jesus saves His people by sacrificing Himself for them in every lamb slaughtered on Israel's altars and as the Lamb of God slaughtered on the cross.
On the mountain where He's transfigured, Jesus reveals to Peter, James, and John that there's a new exodus happening. In this new exodus, Jesus doesn’t judge them. He doesn’t condemn them. He speaks them out of their fear. He leads them out of their sin and death. When Jesus speaks, there's a new exodus happening, and that's why when Peter, James, and John look up they don’t see Moses and Elijah. They’re gone. The cloud is gone. The majesty of Almighty God is gone. Now, there's only Jesus.
Jesus doesn't come to condemn sinners or scare us with threats of judgment and hellish torture. He comes down from the mountain and points His face toward the cross. That's why the Lamb of God comes. He comes to sacrifice Himself and to die for us.
On the mountain where He's transfigured, Jesus reveals to us that there's a new exodus happening. In this new exodus, He doesn’t judge us. He doesn’t condemn us. He sends a preacher that He uses to speak us out of our fear with His promises. His promises lead us out of slavery to sin and death.
When Jesus speaks there's a new exodus happening, and that's why when we look up in church, at the pulpit, font, and altar, we don’t see Moses and Elijah. They’re gone. The cloud is gone too. The majesty of Almighty God is gone. Now, there are only words, and water, and bread, and wine. Now, there is only Jesus.
He doesn't wait for us to find Him on some distant mountaintop. He's near us now, nearer to us than our next breath. He's true God, begotten of His Father from all eternity. He's true man born of the Virgin Mary. He's our Lord. He's our crucified God.