Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Book Review: The King Jesus Gospel (part 5)

Chapter 7 - Jesus and the Gospel

As Scot has defined the gospel, he now asks, “Did Jesus preach that he was the completion of Israel’s Story in such a way that he was the saving story himself? This kind of question shifts the focus of the gospel from being the personal, individual benefits we experience to the Person who himself is the good news.

Piper defines the gospel in his book, God is the Gospel, “the glory of god in the face of Christ revealed for our everlasting enjoyment.” Despite several important differences between McKnight on Piper on the contents of the gospel, they agree on this: the gospel is to declare something about a Person, about God in his revelation in Jesus Christ and about what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Scot then sets out to show that Jesus preached a gospel that concerned himself as the completion of Israel’s story in a way that he was the saving story himself.


Scot begins by examining how Jesus overtly connects his mission, his vision, and his preaching with kingdom. The gospels frame their stories (for the most part, synoptics anyway), from the start as how the births and beginnings of the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus point to messianic and kingdom expectations of Israel’s Story. Mary, Zechariah and john the Baptist point to the fulfillment of the Kingdom and kingdom for them is a community ruled by a King, the Messiah.

Jesus and the Kingdom

Jesus believed the kingdom of God was breaking into history. Two text point to that clearly in Mark 1.15 (the kingdom has drawn [very] near) and Matthew 12.28 (Jesus provides evidence that the kingdom has come upon you). Jesus believes he is the actual manifestation of the long awaited kingdom of god.

Jesus declares a new society in the land and a new citizenship.

Who Am I? Who are you?

Others thought Jesus was one of Israel’s great prophets. Others thought John was a prophet like Elijah or even the Messiah himself. John thought he was “the voice” calling out in the wilderness which prepare the way for the appearance of God himself. John thought Jesus was the one more powerful than himself. Perhaps even Elijah himself (the one who is coming). Jesus thought John was Elijah. This all brings to mind Paul’s thought in 1 Corinthians 15 that all of this was taking place according to the Scriptures. Jesus and John both knew they had a role to play and that role was found in Scripture.

Now, who did Jesus thing he was? Jesus preached that he was the center of God’s plan for Israel. Jesus went to the Bible to define who he was and what his mission was. Jesus believed he was completing scriptural passages. Jesus predicted and embraced his death and resurrection. Jesus therefore preached the gospel because he preached himself. Jesus preached the gospel because he saw himself completing Israel’s story.

Three “Look at Me!” Passages

The Sermon on the Mount – Jesus saw his teaching as the consummation and completion and resolution of the OT Law and the Prophets. Jesus claims that everyone’s morall life is to be measured by whther they live according to his moral vision.

Jesus and the 12 – Jesus appoints 12 that will sit on the 12 thrones that represent the covenant people of God. Yet Jesus stands above the 12, he is the Lord or King of the 12. Jesus chooses 12 to embody the hope for a reunited 12 tribes; he sees the 12 as embodying the fullness of the people of God, and he sees himself above the 12. He sees the Story of Israel coming to its completion in the 12 apostles, and he sees himself both as appointer of the 12 and the Lord over the 12.

Jesus and his death – Jesus saw himself as the Son of Man figure of Daniel 7 who suffered and was exalted. He reenacts the royal entry predicted by Zechariah the prophet. He “stages” a Passover-like meal during which time he declares his body and blood will liberate. God will protect the followers of Jesus if they will drink of his blood-cup and eat his body-bread.

When Jesus talks about moral vision, he sees himself completing the Torah and the Prophets. When he summons the twelve to be his apostles, he is summing up Israel’s hope and Israel’s covenant community as its Lord. And when Jesus speaks about his premature death, he sees it as fulfilling Scriptures, especially Passover.

So, did Jesus preach the gospel? Yes, he preached the gospel because the gospel is the saving Story of Jesus completing Israel’s Story, and Jesus clearly set himself at the center of God’s saving plan for Israel.

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