This is a guest post by my friend Scott Erdenberg. Scott is a fellow lover of worship theology and struggling practitioner at Church of the Shepherd in Hyde Park, Chicago. This Lent Reflection (and another to come) is one way he is faithfully leading Church of the Shepherd and readers of this blog to renounce and re-order our rhythms in Christ this season.
A New Exodus, a New Temple, and a Coming Kingdom
In this famous passage often called “The Transfiguration” we discover a brief glimpse at what Jesus intends to do as he walks to Jerusalem to face his passion. In verse 31, Moses and Elijah speak to Jesus about his “departure” – the exact word Luke uses here “exodus”, which Jesus was “about to bring to fulfillment in Jerusalem.” Just as God delivered his people from bondage and death in Egypt, he once again planned a new exodus – this time for all people.
Peter’s exclamation seems to make more sense in light of this fact – he suggests that they build three “tabernacles” (or “shelters”) on the mountain for God to dwell with his people once again. During the exodus God intentionally inhabited a temporary tabernacle as his people journeyed from Egypt to the Promised Land. It was in this tabernacle (and later the temple) where heaven and earth intersected in a unique way – it was there where God was fully King, and invited his people to be agents of his kingdom to the rest of the world. Upon hearing Jesus, Elijah and Moses discuss the new exodus, Peter wrongly assumes that this would be the new place where God will dwell with his people again.
God here interrupts Peter for the very best of reasons – instead of building a new tabernacle here, Jesus intends to replace the temple with his own body. In him and through him heaven and earth would again intersect in a unique way – and through his exodus (his death and resurrection), God’s kingdom would finally defeat the powers of death and evil that stood in rebellion to God’s kingdom being all in all. God urges Peter, James and John to listen to Christ in the following days as he marches to Jerusalem to claim his rightful place as God’s true presence in the world.
Here we may stop and reflect together – where is God inviting to deliver you from sin and death? In what areas of your life are you being asked to pray that God’s kingdom would once again break-through into our world, that his “kingdom would come, and will be done, on earth as it is in heaven?” And how is God acting through you by His Spirit to embody His kingdom and invite others to dwell in his presence?