Lesson 9 – God is with Us
Once again, viewing the Gospel of Matthew as a retelling to the book of Exodus, is helpful. In Exodus, the people are in slavery and God sends Moses to lead them to freedom (remember that we have the Moses birth and infant story). Along the way, the people are guided by Moses, then by God as the fire and cloud. God is present with them at the Tent of Meeting and in the Ark of the Covenant. God is with them as well in the Torah, the Law of Moses and in the provision of manna and quail. As the people approach crossing the Jordan river and entering the Promised Land, Moses assures them that God will continue to be with them, even as God had been with them in the wilderness. Thus, the entire story of Exodus is one of God is with us.
This can also then be said for Matthew. It begins with the messiah, the chosen one Jesus (the new Moses) being born, going to Egypt and then coming home. This new Moses will teach the people about God’s presence, demonstrate God’s power and offer them new insight into God’s law. God is with them in the Transfiguration and will be with them in Jesus new teachings about community (Matthew 18:15-20). The people will experience freedom from sin just as the Israelites experienced freedom from slavery. At the end of the story, just as the Israelites were headed into the Promised Land, the followers of Jesus are headed out into the world with the promise that God will be with them wherever they go. Thus, the entire story of Matthew is one of God with us.
The key differences in the stories deal with excluding and including. In Exodus the people were to remain separate from the people around them, while in Matthew, they are to invite people into the community. In Exodus they were supposed to drive out or kill all of those who were not Hebrews, while in Matthew they are to go into the world and transform people and communities from within (by teaching and baptizing). Either way though, they are able to do these things only because God was with them.
Reflection on Final Lesson
It has been said that we may be the only Bible that people ever read. It can also be said that we may be the only Christ that some people ever meet. In essence, we become Christ with them. We become God with them. This, in my opinion, is the reason that it is important for us to remember that God is with us; not so we can always feel comforted, but so that we can comfort others; so that we can be the presence and peace of God in Christ with them that they would want to know and love God as do we.