Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Palm Sunday + 2

Joshua, in Hebrew; Jesus, in Greek: it is the same name.

Immediately following on from a vision in which God declares that a time will come when he will leave heaven and come and live among his people, Zechariah has a vision in which he sees the pre-incarnate Jesus taking a stand against satan the accuser over the high priest Joshua - a man who stands as a symbol of things to come. Joshua is dressed in filthy rags, symbolising sin - as high priest, symbolising the sins of the people. And because of this, satan declares a right to ownership over him. But the Lord describes Joshua as a burning stick snatched from the fire - prefiguring his own descent into hell, having died carrying the sin of all humanity, and resurrection to new life three days later. Joshua is dressed in clean robes, symbolic of the fact that the sin has been taken away. Dead to sin, alive in Christ.

Joshua stands for Jesus, the one the writer of Hebrews describes as our great high priest; a symbol of the one to come, the servant, the Branch, the one through whom sin would be dealt with in a single day. And, indeed, Jesus is there, setting out ahead of time what will happen - sending himself a message into the future.

And having emptied himself of divine privilege and taken on human flesh and grown and learnt the scriptures as one of us, Jesus will discover in Zechariah's vision another aspect of his mission; a vision that will sustain him in the week approaching his death...

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