The western world has detached Jesus so much from Israel that most see him as a gentile. Their understanding of the gospel is so limited that the scope of his ministry was simply about dying for sins. We look at Jesus from a New Testament perspective and present a eulogy about him discussing his birth, death, and resurrection, and never talk about his life. At my funeral I don’t want my legacy to simply be how I died, but more importantly how I lived. The death of Jesus is so connected to his life that to focus only on the end is to miss the gospel completely. Not that his death is not part of the gospel, but misunderstanding his life and how that connects to his death is to understand the gospel. His life is so wrapped up in the Old Testament and Israel, that it is near impossible to share the gospel without sitting down with someone and explaining the entire meta-narrative (that is the entire story of the Bible), and why Jesus becomes the culmination of what and who Israel was suppose to be to the world.
Israel was to be a set apart people, who are to be multiplied, and be a blessing to all nations. This goes all the way back to a Genesis chapter 12, and the call of Abraham. The family/son here promised is fulfilled in Jesus. Though in part by Isaac, but not the whole. We can go on further in Daniel 9:24, says, ” Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy.”. A passage clearly pointing to Jesus, who is ushering in the jubilee of jubilees. This jubilee is fulfilled in Jesus death, but summed up in his life. And his life became a ministry of reconciliation. How? It’s not complex, but simply, he came to usher in a new kingdom, not one that is detached from this world, but one that is attached to earth and heaven. He reconciled people through his death, so they can be reminded of his life, to live in his kingdom in the here and now, on earth as it is in heaven. Those living in his day were not awaiting to fly away to one day to be in a kingdom, they were waiting to inherit the kingdom in their present earthly state. And though so much is wrapped up in that simple statement, this blog will not even begin to enlighten that area.
Jesus came to give life, but more abundant life in the here and now, not just in the future. To mis-understand what Jesus was doing through his life and only discuss his death, is to give people hope for when they die, but no hope for when they live. This life, what the gospels refer to, is a kingdom being established, as Jesus says over and over, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is near.” Why he lived and what he has called us to is such a vital piece, that misunderstanding it, will ultimately lead either to Christians who are all about moralism/legalism ( Jesus lived not to teach us to be moral people, and that will have to be explained in further detail elsewhere), who are hypocrites (living on grace), or who are inviting people into a party (where Jesus = love you man, and that’s all you need to know, there’s nothing else to do now but know that when you die, your good). Knowing why Jesus lived and understanding his role in ushering in the kingdom, leads to fruitful people and to an abundant life. But the gospel that has been presented in the West, one only on his death, again does not understand the meta-narrative, and simply is awaiting a future kingdom, not one in the present. Therefore by missing why he lived, our lives have little to no purpose in the present.
To be continued…