This is one of those rare days in the Lectionary when the chosen Scriptures really tell a tale when put together. Usually I find myself focusing on one passage. This morning, elements of all the passages jumped off the page at me, and to use the language of the Scriptures, pierced my soul.
Let’s take them the way Israel received them. Chronologically…
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:8-9, events from around 1400 BC)
I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.”
(Psalm 2:7-9, ascribed to King David, around 1000 BC)
The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
(Psalm 110:4-5 also ascribed to David. Melchizedek was “King of Salem” and “priest of the most high God” during the period of Abraham’s life, around 2100 BC)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2. The letter has just recounted the whole history of God’s chosen, from Abel to the Exile. Written around 64 AD, author unknown)
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
(John 15:4-5. The words of Jesus, spoken around 30 AD)
I’ve picked out what seemed to me the key words of each passage and made a sentence out of them: “The Law will be embodied in a Son who will be a Priest, the founder of our faith.”
There is, of course, much else to mine from these verses. But the heart of the gospel of Jesus is in each. The God who is there and who has spoken most fully in his Son speaks through his Word today. Abide in him, that his word may abide in you.