Pitre: Jesus, the Three, The Seventy

Brant Pitre shows that Jesus builds a hierarchy of followers based on the model of Moses in Exodus.

In his earthly ministry, Jesus calls one disciple (Peter) out specifically to be the Rock on which he builds his church. He then calls an “inner circle” made up of three disciples (Peter, James, and John), specifically designated apart from the remaining apostles in The Twelve. Then Jesus calls 70 disciples to witness to the world. On the face, these numbers seem highly allusive of biblical theology. Pitre points out that these numbers are significant in that they draw a parallel between the priestly ministry of Jesus and that of Moses’, a parallel “undetected by scholarship on Jesus” (Pitre, The Last Supper, 141).

He begins with a quotation:

Then he said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar. Moses alone shall come near to the Lord, but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.”

Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord.And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lordhas spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.

He draws a table making the connections clear:

Moses // Jesus
Aaron // Peter
Aaron, Nadab, Abihu // Peter, James, and John
Twelve Pillars // Twelve Apostles
Priestly Elders of Israel // Appointed and Sent Out Ones

Jesus, acting as High Priest, not only makes sacrifice for himself. He also reshapes Israel into a priestly  nation (cf. I Peter 2:8-10) by reshaping it’s liturgy around a new priestly inner circle. Beginning with himself, Jesus extends his earthly ministry into the High Priest Peter, the heads James and John, the twelve apostles who will judge Israel, and finally the seventy who will minister to the seventy tribes of the world.

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