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No Rabbits, But Plenty of Life in the Real Easter Story

posted Apr 19, 2014, 11:08 AM by Jesse Griffin   [ updated Apr 19, 2014, 11:10 AM ]
A newcomer to Detroit had a washer delivered. But the movers could not install it: union rules. An electrician wired the washer but could not drain it: union rules. The plumber hooked it to the drain and then asked for his money. The exasperated housewife said, “You’ll have to talk to my husband. I run the bills up; he pays them: union rules!”

The Bible teaches we all have spiritual bills we cannot pay. That truth is at the heart of one of an intriguing event.

One evening Jesus took Peter, James and John up a mountain to pray. The three quickly fell asleep. But what a shock when they awoke! There stood Jesus shining like a Christmas tree – his face “shone like the sun”; his clothing was “dazzling white.” For one brief, shining moment in His earthly life, Jesus’ divine nature was allowed to shine through.

And He was not alone. He was conversing with Moses and Elijah, highly revered Israelites. Long dead, but still alive! And they were discussing, not past exploits, but something else.

They were discussing Jesus’ “departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31). “Departure” translates the Greek word “exodus”. This clues us that the physical exodus Moses led from Egypt was a pattern for a much greater exodus that Jesus was going to accomplish by His death, resurrection and ascension in Jerusalem. That’s what they were talking about – not the past, but the future.

Peter made an attempt to prolong the meeting as it was breaking up, but he was interrupted by the appearance of a cloud (a physical representation of God throughout the Bible) and a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

Peter never forgot as he wrote 30-plus years later: “We ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain” (II Pet 1:18). This was proof in space, time and history of the validity of God’s plan of redemption.

But why Moses and Elijah? Because they had a strong vested interested in Jesus’ coming exodus. They had been in heaven for hundreds of years “on credit.” Great as they were, they had run up bills in this life that they could not pay. No one can pay the penalty for failing to meet the standards of an infinitely holy God. No one, that is, except Jesus.

So they were there to encourage Jesus in His staggering mission to take on Himself the “sins of the whole world” (I John 2:2). They knew their whole future depended on it. They were on “borrowed time” until their debt had actually been paid.

And of course, every one of us had a vested interest in that conversation as well. Jesus’ departure or “exodus” – the final act of His 33-year earthly ministry – required His death to pay for sin, His resurrection to authenticate the payment and His ascension to return Him to His rightful place of power and authority as the go-between between God and man.

In biblical times, a placard of a man's crimes was put on his prison cell. It was returned to him after he had served his sentence with the word Tetelstai written across it. Paid in full! That was among Jesus’ last words on the cross. At last the payment was made – once and for all.

So Moses and Elijah had a future after all. And so does anyone who will accept His payment for their sin. Jesus has paid in full! The resurrection proves it. That’s what Easter is all about. Not a single rabbit in the whole story! Happy Easter!

Dave McNeff is pastor of the First Congregational Church of Eaton/Ault (

Published in The Tribune on April 19th, 2014.