Blessing Water: A Passage into the Kingdom

Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  (John 1:45)

Jesus and Moses

Then Jesus said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures   (Luke 24:44-45)

And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27)

One of the clear claims of the Gospels is that Moses in composing the Torah was writing about Jesus the Christ.  Whatever insight Moses was given prophetically about the Messiah, no matter how little he might have understood it, he was preparing the people of God to recognize the Messiah when He appeared on earth.

Jesus said: “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me.”  (John 5:46)

The notion that the Old Testament, the Jewish Scriptures, are really a foreshadowing  of the reality of the Messiah, is well established in the New Testament as well as in the Patristic writers through the centuries.  That one could search the Old Testament to find evidence that Jesus is the Christ, was how  early Christians tried to convince their fellow Jews to believe in Jesus.

These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.   (Acts 17:11)

The early Christians saw throughout the words of the Scriptures and in the divine actions recorded there glimpses of the Christ.  Nearly every action in the life of Christ was seen as foreshadowed in an event written about in the Old Testament.  Thus the baptism of Christ described by all 4 evangelists (Mark 1:9-11; Matthew 3:13-17; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:29-34) was understood to be foreshadowed in events of the Old Testament involving water.  So Roman Catholic scholar Jean Danielou writes about the notion of typology and how events of the Old Testament foreshadowed, or were types of the baptism of Christ:

“In all three cases a Divine judgement must strike a sinful world, sinners at the time of the Flood, Egyptians at the Exodus and the inhabitants of Jericho: in all three cases only those who have passed through water and are assembled in a dwelling-place will escape the judgement: in all three cases a man is selected by God to be the instrument of salvation. The three essential components of typology, the sacramental, the eschatological, the Christological are here united. They prefigure that salvation which will be finally secured when sinful humanity, secure in the ark of the Church under the leadership of Jesus Christ, will escape the coming judgement.” (From Shadows to Reality, p 286)

Every major event in the life of Christ was done for our salvation.  We better understand how these events in Christ’s life (many which are celebrated as Feast days in the Orthodox Church) are saving for us, when we fully understand the events in the Old Testament that foreshadowed them.  Noah’s ark at the time of the flood, the Israelite crossing the Red Sea during the Exodus, and the Israelite crossing of Jordan before taking the city of Jericho are all clear stories about God’s saving actions with His people.  Whatever truth they tell us about history, their real significance is comprehended only in how they reveal Christ’s life to us.  Jesus is the person in whom our salvation is accomplished.  This is how Moses and the prophets and the Psalms were written about Jesus.

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