Though we often complicate it and make things far more difficult than they should be, Jesus gives us one job as his parting words – go and make disciples. So that’s it – tell other people about Jesus and help them follow him.
- God cares about the details.
- It is significant that women were the first to witness Jesus’ resurrection and disappearance from the grave. Women’s testimonies did not count in court.
- 11-12 – The chief priests immediately try to discount the account of Jesus’ resurrection. At the time Matthew was written, the rumor they started was still being spread.
- 18-20 – This is known as The Great Commission. This passage is used as reason for evangelism.
- 11 – “Fear of the Lord” refers to a type of awe and respect.
When Jesus died the temple curtain tore down the middle. The temple curtain separated the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, which represented God’s presence, from the rest of the temple, where people were allowed. Jesus’ death took away any need for separation between God and humanity. Jesus’ sinless life and unfair death bridged the gap.
- 1 – God gave Bezalel and Oholiab the skills they needed for the task at hand. He does this for us as well.
- 3-7 – The Israelites worked together to provide all that was needed and more. No one held back or assumed their contribution wasn’t significant enough. This is a beautiful picture of how God’s people can come together to do great things.
- 39-43 – Jesus most likely had similar thoughts. He had saved so many others and definitely had the power to save himself.
- 48 – Sour wine was used similarly to an anesthetic.
- 51 – The temple curtain was the separation between the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. This is how these were symbolically separated. Jesus’ death broke down any separation between man and God.
- 54 – It is significant that the centurion was not a Jew and was one of the first to recognize Jesus as the Messiah.
- When Psalms are attributed to a certain experience in David’s life it can remind us that we too can praise, lament, or call on God in specific moments of our lives.
- 8 – “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” We are to experience God fully with all our senses and abilities.
- Good advice is wasted on those who insist on folly, but folks who want to learn and grow wiser are willing to listen to criticism and rebuke.
Other than the golden calf story, you may never have known that the second half of Exodus exists, but there’s plenty to learn here.
No, a different Mark.
I’m not sure this is where the phrase originates, but it seems that “the devil is in the details” is appropriate when reading the explicit instructions for creating the tabernacle. Often we want to follow God, but we prefer to cut corners and take the easier route or the convenient option. But God values our obedience – even in the smallest of details.
Another major happening this week is we’re beginning a new gospel – Mark!! Woohoo!! Bring it! Mark is the shortest of the four gospels and is believed to have been the first one written. You’ll notice that Mark leaves out a lot of details and descriptors the others include. Mark was most likely writing this hurriedly around 70 A.D. when Jerusalem, and specifically the temple, were being destroyed by the Romans. Mark had to quickly get an account of Jesus’ life out there so his words and actions would not be forgotten.
Here are a couple of things to watch for in Mark:
- There is no birth narrative – Jesus comes on the scene as an adult. Case and point: some major details are omitted.
- There is a heavy emphasis on miracles – look for series’ of miracles one right after another. Mark believed this aspect of Jesus would be significant to his hearers.
- There is also a heavy emphasis on Jesus’ interactions with the demonic. Mark puts a heavier emphasis here than other gospels.
- Mark, like Matthew, puts a heavy emphasis on Jesus’ struggles with religious leaders.
- Mark emphasizes how dense the disciples are in picking up what Jesus is putting down. They continually “don’t get it”.
All those details, measurements, and specifications! The 2nd half of the Book of Exodus is long on detail and short on drama. But, the details are actually really interesting, if you can draw back and see the whole picture.
The 2nd half of Exodus is God telling the Israelites how to properly worship, while they are still roaming in the desert. It’s important that they get the details right, since the Living God is not someone you carelessly approach. All these details are meant to help the Israelites understand who this God is who brought them out of slavery.
We require clear instructions. Otherwise, we tend to find ways to mess up. Though they may seem tedious, God gives the Israelites very specific instructions on how to construct the Tabernacle. This was basically a portable temple, or place of worship, that they could pack up and move whenever they needed to wander to a new location in the desert.
- 15 – Feast of Unleavened Bread is Passover
- 1-7 – These were special offerings requested so the Israelites could build a tabernacle for God.
- 8-9 – The Tabernacle was God’s mobile house. The Israelites couldn’t build a temple yet because they were still nomadic.
- 9-40 – Like with Noah, when building his ark, God gives Moses very specific construction instructions.
- 34 – This tends to be problematic for people because clearly all the people in that generation have since died. Some people interpret it to mean that the Jews will still be in existence until the second coming. Others believe that fulfillment simply requires the beginning of the age and not the full second coming. Of course, no one knows for sure.
- 40-42 – verses like these are where ideas for things like the “Left Behind” series come from
- 44 – Jesus’ warning is for those of us who know the truths of Jesus. He warns us not to neglect those truths but be faithful even as we wait and don’t know how long we’ll be waiting.
- 5 – Encouragement that trouble is always temporary
- 11-12 – Beautiful imagery of God’s restoration through our trials. What if we all were so aware of God’s part in our getting through difficult times?
This week, it all comes full circle. Last week, in Exodus, we read about God releasing the Israelites from slavery and saving their first-born children through the Passover. This week, we’ll read about the Last Supper, which Jesus offered to his closest companions, the disciples, just before his arrest and death.
Do you see the connection? Is it starting to become clear just how carefully the story of God’s love and redemption for humanity has been in the works over time?
In Exodus the Israelites experience the first Passover and make unleavened bread so they can leave quickly if needed. In Matthew, Jesus eats the Passover meal with his disciples. In Exodus a flawless lamb’s blood could save you from the death of your first-born. In Matthew, Jesus offers up his own blood to save us all. In Exodus God makes a way for his people to receive freedom. In Matthew, he does the same.
The first Passover directly connects to the Last Supper and Jesus’ death, which directly connects to our experiencing Holy Communion on Sundays. This is not just a series of unrelated stories, but one centuries long story of God continually working to achieve our redemption.
Don’t get bogged down in the details of how to build the tabernacle – they can get tedious. Think of the tabernacle as a traveling temple. The Israelites wanted a home for God that they could pack up and move as they wandered. The tabernacle was the solution. Practical, eh?
Yes, they wandered for 40 years, but what happened during those years and how did God and the Israelites remain on speaking terms after the debacles that ensued?