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The Bible In A Year: Day 25

Exodus 12-13
Psalm 21
Mathew 21

After agreeing to baptize him along with the sinners, John the Baptist looked at Jesus and pointed him out as the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. By doing so, he reveals that Jesus is at the same time the suffering Servant who silently allows himself to be led to the slaughter and who bears the sin of the multitudes, and also the Paschal Lamb, the symbol of Israel’s redemption at the first Passover. Christ’s whole life expresses his mission: “to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

CCC 608

Today’s readings open up with preparation for the final plague, the death of the first born in all of Egypt. This plague is a judgment against all the gods of Egypt, and against pharaoh who was considered a god-king living deity. pharaoh spilled the blood of Hebrew children and now he’ll experience this pain of loss himself.

The preparation and the event itself is called the Passover, because of the angels that pour out this plague will “pass over” the homes that are painted with the blood of the Passover lamb smeared on the doorposts, as God instructed.

All the sacrifices of the Old Testament foreshadowed Christ in some way, but none as much as the Passover lamb. Saint Paul called Jesus “our Passover” and there’s countless references to Him as such through the early fathers and many theologians.

The sacrifice of the lamb signifies the sacrifice of Christ; its blood, applied to the doorframes as protection against the destroyer, signifies faith in the Passion of Christ; and its flesh was eaten to signify our consumption of Christ’s body in the sacrament.

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Even the details like it the lamb having no broken bones points to Christ, as Saint John pointed out in his gospel,

So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him;
but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs…
For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled, ” Not a bone of him shall be broken.”

John 19:32-33 & 36

At midnight of that night the final plague strikes Egypt, and the text says that there wasn’t a single house in which someone didn’t die. Every firstborn, among humans and animals, was slain, except in houses with the blood of the lamb on its doorposts. Even in the palace, none were spared. Finally, pharaoh is broken and summons Moses and Aaron that night and tells them to leave with all their people, all their livestock and all their belongings. He even requested a blessing from Moses before he departed.

As they are leaving, the Egyptian people give them goods and beg the, to hurry up and leave. They even take all the riches of Egypt with them as they go, and they set off with lots of non Israelites following with them. Perhaps these foreigners came to realize over the recent past that the God of the Israelites was more powerful than the gods of Egypt (if they even believed they still existed) and the land has been devastated so it’s better to take a chance with this group rather than stay in this wasteland.

Before we leave Exodus today, we see at the very end of chapter 13 a reference to the pillar of fire and pillar of cloud. These were both manifestations of God, the cloud by day and the fire by night, so that the people could be safely led through the wilderness. This speaks to us today, that as long as we allow God to lead and us to follow, we will never get lost on this earthly exodus to our heavenly home.

Mathew 21

Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem manifested the coming of the kingdom that the King-Messiah was going to accomplish by the Passover of his Death and Resurrection. It is with the celebration of that entry on Palm Sunday that the Church’s liturgy solemnly opens Holy Week.

CCC 560

Mathew 21 starts out with the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, in preparation for his sacrifice as our eternal Passover lamb. During this processions into Jerusalem he fulfilled multiple prophecies, including the riding on a donkey as Saint Mathew mentions in verse 5. One difference in this gospel is that Saint Mathew mentions a colt and a donkey, and that Jesus rode both into Jerusalem. Possibly meaning he rode one and then the other, or perhaps rode one with some of their belongings being carried by the other.

The two beasts are the nations that Christ brings under his Lordship. The donkey signifies Israel in its long-standing covenant with God; the colt is the younger Gentiles, unfamiliar with God and his Law. Jesus ushers them together into the Church of the heavenly Jerusalem.

Saint Jerome

The crowds acclaim him as the “son of David” and openly acclaim him as messiah. They spread their garments on the ground the same way they did for a new king’s coronation (2 kings 9:13), and cut palm branches and laid them on the road too, giving us the name we call the Sunday at the start of Holy Week, Palm Sunday.

Jesus goes through the eastern gate of the city and enters the temple. Seeing the money changers and the animal sellers, he becomes enraged and flips their tables. He quotes Jeremiah 7:11 in calling them a “den of robbers” and the context here is that the prophet Jeremiah was calling the nation to repentance or else the temple and the nation would be destroyed. They didn’t repent, and so it was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. Jesus is telling this generation to repent or else the temple would be destroyed, they didn’t and it was in AD 70 by the Romans.

Jesus went up to the Temple as the privileged place of encounter with God. For him, the Temple was the dwelling of his Father, a house of prayer, and he was angered that its outer court had become a place of commerce. He drove merchants out of it because of jealous love for his Father: “You shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade. His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.'” After his Resurrection his apostles retained their reverence for the Temple.

CCC 584

After some more back and forth with the Pharisees, Jesus goes into a couple parables. The one about the wicked tenants is an allegory that tells the story of salvation and God’s dealings with the children of Israel. God is the householder, the vineyard is Jerusalem, the tenants of the religious leaders of the temple, the servants were the Old Testament prophets, the son is Jesus, he is “thrown out of the vineyard” and killed when he is taken outside the walls of Jerusalem and crucified. So he kills the tenants, the destruction of the temple and the priestly order of the old covenant when Titus destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70, and gives it to “other tenants,” when he entrusts the care of his kingdom to the apostles and their successors.

Tomorrow’s Readings:
Exodus 14-15
Psalm 22
Mathew 22

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