Joshua 3.7-11, 13-17; Ps 113; Matt 18.21—19.1
Yesterday’s first reading, the conclusion of the book Deuteronomy and of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible), narrated the death of Moses, than whom ‘never has there been such a prophet in Israel’. Nonetheless, Moses was not to lead the people of Israel into the promised land. That role was to be Joshua’s, and the book named for him describes the conquest of the land and the partition of the territory among the twelve tribes. Just as Moses’ leadership was cemented by the dramatic exodus of Israel, passing through the Red Sea dry-shod
[Exodus 14.15—15.19] so Joshua was shown to be the leader God had chosen for his people by bringing them with unmoistened feet through the Jordan River.
Christian piety has long fastened on these two water crossings as exemplars of Christian life. On the mount of Transfiguration Moses and Elijah appeared alongside Our Lord to attest that his imminent passion, death and resurrection were to be his Exodus [Luke 9.30-31]—an Exodus which must be accomplished in every disciple’s own life experience. [9.22-26] A popular hymn names Jesus the ‘Death of death and Hell’s destruction’ whom we can be assured will lead us through the Jordan to a safe landing ‘on Canaan’s side’.