Read Along With Pastor Matt–Simply Christian “Jesus”

Posted: December 29, 2009 in Uncategorized

Back to Simply Christian.  Today we hit chapters seven and eight.

N.T. Wright argues that “Christianity is about something that happened.  Something that happened to Jesus of Nazareth.  Something that happened through Jesus of Nazareth…In other words, Christianity is not about a new moral teaching…Christianity isn’t about Jesus offering a wonderful moral example….nor is Christianity about Jesus offering, demonstrating, or even accomplishing a new route by which people can ‘go to heaven when they die’…finally, Christianity isn’t about giving the world fresh teaching about God himself…So, what is Christianity about, then?  Christianity is all about the belief that the living God, in fulfillment of his promises and as the climax of the story of Israel, has accomplished all this–the finding, the saving, the giving of new life–in Jesus.  He has done it.  With Jesus, God’s rescue operation has been put into effect once and for all.”

Thus, it is all about Jesus, which begs the question, “What can we know about Jesus?”

We are in the midst of holiday season and every year, leading up to Christmas, there are a slew of articles and shows that make outrageous claims about Jesus akin to tabloid headlines, (“He never really died!” “Jesus was married!” “Jesus was a vegan from another dimension!”, etc.), but these are rarely taken seriously except by conspiracy theorists.

But can we trust more mainstream sources? Like the Gospels? Wright points out that once we understand the worldview of 1st century denizens of the Roman Empire that the Gospels do in fact make sense and, therefore, are reliable but the historical work to outline this worldview must be undertaken.

For example, at the heart of the message of the Gospels is the idea of “The Kingdom of God.”  Wright asserts that the proclamation was central to Jesus’ earthly ministry but what did he mean?

At the time Jesus spoke these words, “He was addressing the world…in which the Jewish people were anxious for their God to rescue them from pagan oppression and put the world to rights–in other words, to become king fully and finally.”

Yet, Jesus would radically redefine what this rescue operation would look like for “instead of the usual military revolt, it was time to show the pagans what the true God was really like, not by fighting and violence but by loving one’s enemies, turning the other cheek, going the second mile.”  According to Wright, this would “bring God’s future into the present and make it stick there.”

Jesus was the prophesied Messiah who would inaugurate this ‘present future’ by suffering the worst evil could inflict on anyone and, by doing so, “exhausting its power” and when Jesus rose from the grave “God’s whole new creation emerged from the tomb.”

Yet, as we can cull from simply looking around us, evil still pervades God’s creation, so, the work is clearly not done but Wright insists God is still bringing His perfect future into the present and is doing so through the power of what Christians call “The Holy Spirit” and it is to this mysterious divine force that we shall soon turn.

Until then, grace and peace.

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