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EXODUS 12:14-13:16 | MATTHEW 20:29-21:22 | PSALM 25:16-22 | PROVERBS 6:12-15
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430 years. That is how long the people of Israel had lived in the land of Egypt since the days of Joseph, son of Jacob. But it was now time to go home.
And so, the exodus begins. The account says there were about 600,000 men not counting their wives and children, so the number must have easily been three or four times that. Led by Moses, the people of Israel have finally been let go by a recalcitrant Pharaoh, and they are now on their way.
So great was this ordeal of gaining their freedom, that God instructs them very carefully on the aspects of observing the Passover to commemorate this liberation from slavery. The covenant that was made of old is being renewed, and they are soon to see for themselves the “land of milk and honey” promised to their forefathers. And regarding the celebration of the Passover, they are instructed to observe it each year and to explain to their children the meaning of it.
God says to them: 14 “In days to come, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the LORD killed every firstborn in Egypt, both man and animal. This is why I sacrifice to the LORD the first male offspring of every womb and redeem each of my firstborn sons.’ 16 And it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the LORD brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand.”
Turning next to our reading in the Book of Matthew, we find the account of Jesus’ last days is fast approaching. Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem is not on a horse but on a most lowly animal, the donkey. He is welcomed by the people who put down palm branches in the street, and it is from this incident that the Christian tradition of Palm Sunday is observed — usually four weeks before Easter.
And finally, on another note, we see both a human and divine side to Jesus in the story of the fig tree. Physical hunger causes Jesus to reach for fruit, but when there is none, it is his divine powers that cause him to curse the tree.
He says to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive what you ask for in prayer.”
Next, we turn to the Psalms, and David’s psalm for the day seems to echo the mood that Jesus finds himself in at present. Jesus knows the plight that lies in store for him, and yet, the human side within him cries out just like David did:
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart have multiplied;
free me from my anguish.
18 Look upon my affliction and my distress
and take away all my sins.
19 See how my enemies have increased
and how fiercely they hate me!
20 Guard my life and rescue me;
let me not be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness protect me,
because my hope is in you.
Finally, a few verses from the Book of Proverbs, in which Solomon, wise king of Israel, speaks to the fate that awaits a schemer and an evil person:
12 A troublemaker and a villain,
who goes about with a corrupt mouth,
13 who winks maliciously with his eye,
signals with his feet
and motions with his fingers,
14 who plots evil with deceit in his heart—
he always stirs up conflict.
15 Therefore disaster will overtake him in an instant;
he will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.