I’ve talked a great deal about gospeling in our homes over the last year. It’s been a topic on my mind because I wrote a book on that topic, but I wanted to offer a broader application and some theological backdrop for the why and how of rehearsing the gospel story in the new covenant.
The Old Testament Exodus
As Genesis comes to a close, Joseph finds himself ruling Egypt as second in command. His brothers come down to Egypt seeking food. Joseph doesn’t reveal his identity right away, not until he finds out his youngest brother and father are alive. He then brings his entire family into Egypt to live because of the famine. Fast forward hundreds of years as we start Exodus, the Egyptians have now enslaved Israel. They are using them for the dirty work. But in the midst of this arduous slavery, Israel prospers and multiplies. Pharaoh is enraged and commands all male children be slaughtered as they’re born.
A boy child survives. Moses lives with his mom, but is adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. He grows up in privilege. Because of this, he’s not accepted and when he tries to force his hand and kills an Egyptian task master, he flees into the desert. Enter God through the burning bush.
He introduces himself to Moses as I AM WHO I AM--the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He commands Moses to lead his people out of Egypt into the promised land. That commands takes a little more work than Moses bargained for. Fast forward ten plagues and Israel is eating the first Passover and preparing to leave Egypt. They flee into the desert and are cornered against the seemingly unmovable Red Sea. Egypt comes to their senses and pursues its slave labor force. Israel is frightened and wobbly kneed. God commands Moses to part the Red Sea. Israel flees through the waters. God has redeemed his people from Egypt. You know after the crossing it’s not all milk and honey. A lot goes on in the wilderness before entering the promised land but you get the gist.
What’s important to realize is this. The covenant of grace proceeds the law. In Genesis 3:15, God promises the Seed who will crush the serpents head. In Romans 4:1-12, Paul tells us Abraham is justified by faith because he believed the promise through grace. Before Moses commands Israel to rehearse the redemption from Egypt, he redeems them and proclaims, “Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut 6:3-4). So he redeems them and reminds them of the promise before giving the law. That’s good news for us all. That’s a brief overview of the redemptive story to be rehearsed in all households in Israel.
The New Testament Exodus
We get to the New Testament and some might say, “So what?” I want to implore you to read the Gospels in light of the Old Testament story. Consider how often Jesus fulfills the types of prophet, priest, and king. Search for Jesus in the Old Testament so you can see him more clearly in the New. In the New Testament, we’re not under a different covenant. We are under the covenant of grace realized through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
What we have in the Gospels is the Genesis and Exodus of the New Testament. For instance, whereas Joseph rescues his family from famine, Jesus rescues us from famine as the bread of life. Whereas Moses works as an ambassador of God in front of Pharaoh, Jesus exercises divine prerogative as God. Whereas David rules imperfectly and fails to conquer all of the promised land, Jesus provides rest for all of his sheep. Whereas as Solomon rules with wisdom, but fails to live that wisdom out, Jesus embodies ultimate wisdom and lives out its implications perfectly.
Jesus stomps around the promised land, a physical sign of the spirituality reality of rest in Christ, and he gathers an army of blind, hungry, captives, lame, lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors, and sinners. He preaches, “The kingdom of God is at hand. Follow me. Repent and believe.” It reminds of C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe where Aslan enters the White Witch’s castle and breathes on the stone creatures to bring them back to life.
As Jesus is doing this, his ministry climaxes in the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. People are crying out, “Hosanna” and are under the impression Jesus enters the city to be their physical redeemer from the oppressive Roman Empire. They don’t understand they are under a far more oppressive regime. What happens next is perplexing. Jesus meets his disciples in the Upper Room for the Passover. The first Passover highlights the atonement’s propitiatory application and the supper emphasizes the same. Jesus takes the bread and the wine and says, “This is the blood of the covenant and my body broken for you” (Matthew 26:26-29). He’s the passover lamb who must be slain as a substitute for his people.
But the absurdity according to earthy wisdom doesn’t end there. Jesus is delivered to the Jewish leaders and is crucified and buried. The hopes of those following him are crushed. They have scattered like lost sheep. What they do not realize is the only way to redeem them from their current oppressive master is to put their old self to death and the only way to accomplish that and live is through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He dies so that they do not have to. In three days, he rises from the tomb and shortly ascends into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father.
The Story Ends with Mission
Before leaving, Jesus commands his disciples,
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20)
This passage parallels God’s charge for Joshua before entering the promised land (Josh 1:2-9). You have the realization of death (and now resurrection), authority (physical and local to spiritual and universal), dominion, a command to teach (only Israel and now the nations), and a promise of presence for the mission. Jesus now sends us on mission into the entire world with his authority--a beautiful exposition of law and gospel.
This is the New Exodus story we rehearse in our daily life, in our homes, and in all nations. Isn’t it riveting? You have crushed hopes, betrayal, death, an unexpected turn of events, and a procession of blind, hungry, captives, lame, lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors, and sinners lead through the waters of baptism and the wilderness into the ultimate rest found in Jesus Christ.
It’s not a story we contribute to in any meaningful way. It’s a story whose Hero will not fail. It’s a story that provides hope for the hopeless. It’s a story that when rehearsed highlights the promises of God in Christ and the faithfulness of God. It’s a story that sends us out on mission. It’s the story for the end of all ages.