Today’s readings pull together several threads of salvation that run through the Old and New Testaments. The reading from Exodus recounts the extremely important establishment of the Passover. Christians sometimes fail to appreciate the relationship of the events of Holy Week to Passover. The timing of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and everything that follows is no accident. Jesus is explicitly and overtly acting out his vocation as God’s Messiah by offering himself as the means by which God will deliver the people from bondage.
Contrary to the expectations of his followers, though, this deliverance will not prove to be immediate political liberation from the Roman oppressor. Rather, it will accomplish the far greater deliverance from the powers of sin and death of which the Romans and the Jewish religious leaders are the proximate representatives. As N.T. Wright has written, as Jesus goes to the cross, the forces of darkness and evil are being drawn onto that point. But rather than conquering there, it is the dark powers that are conquered. In the reading from John, we see that it is not through love of force, but through the force of love that Jesus will defeat the dark forces.
Jesus reminds us that he “set you an example.” Though we may at times doubt that Jesus’ humble and loving way is truly the divine way of victory, the reading from 1st Corinthians affirms that this is the new covenant God has established. In the new and surprising covenant of love, Christ defeats the darkness and reconciles God and humanity. With the Psalmist, and all who trust in God, we can gratefully lift up the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord, who has loosed our bonds. Amen.