Lv 23:1,4-11,15,16,34-37; Ps 81:3-6,10,11; Mt 13:54-58
The true joy of Israel is sung and trumpeted throughout their journey in the dessert and throughout their history. The true joy of Israel is to be free from the slavery of false gods and false religion. The Lord God who led them from the land of Egypt is the One who designs their years and fills them with festivals. On their solemn feasts there was to be no sort of work; on their great festivals there was to be only songs, feasting and sacred assembly. In these times of rejoicing the new people of God were to remember the Lord’s faithfulness and repent of their unfaithfulness. The Lord God spoke and commanded Moses to design and decree the days of wonder. During these days they were to make burnt offerings and cereal offerings, sacrifices and libations to praise the God of their liberation. Out of many centuries of remembering and rejoicing the Lord prepared a people to be his own and to receive the New Moses, the promised prophet. However, the Lord Jesus did not work mighty deeds among his own neighbors because of their lack of faith, and they were not ready for the revelation of God’s desire and design to free all people from the slavery of false gods and false religion.
The festivals of the Lord, the Passover, the Pentecost, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Booths were all designed to create a faithful people through whom the Lord was to enter into a covenant with all who are captive and lost. Liberated Slaves were to enter into a new land and live a new life that gave powerful witness to the Lord God. He who made heaven and earth is also the God who liberates. The Creator of the universe is the Lord of History. The design of God from all time was to create a people so free that they could choose to abide with him in glory. Men and women of every time and place are created with this end in mind, with this goal deep within their very genes. Not only were they to be obedient and faithful servants of God’s covenant; they were intended to be united with the one who made them. Their maker was to be their spouse. Each festival and every feast was a glimpse of the glory yet ahead in the eternal marriage celebration. Such radical good news is almost impossible to hear. When they saw the glory of such closeness radiating from the face of Moses the people begged him to hide his face. They were comfortable with days of gladness, but not with a lifetime of glory. Still, God send his only begotten Son to find his bride among the children of the Lord.
After he had gathered his disciples and named his apostles, Jesus returns to his native place and taught in the synagogue. They were quite impressed. Soon their astonishment morphed into questioning and ultimately into offense. Where did he get such wisdom? How does he work such mighty deeds? Don’t we know his relatives? Jesus received no honor in his native place. Jesus did not work mighty deeds there because he was not going to play the wonder worker for them. He did not come to entertain anyone, and he did not need to prove himself to anyone. The confident assurance about what they hoped for was not found in his hometown. Perhaps, they did not have faith because they did not hope for the nuptial union at the heart of God’s plan. Perhaps, we too do not witness his might deeds because we lack faith. Yet, still the prophet, the New Moses, comes among us to renew the new covenant in his own blood.