Tuesday, November 26, 2013

In This Is Love (part 15)

Though Jesus was not one hundred percent unique to the point that He would not be recognized and understood by anybody, He was obviously and distinctively set apart from anybody that came before or that would come after in a number of ways.  It is not necessary to here go very deeply into this point, but it is almost needless to say that the crucifixion, the Resurrection, and the ascension, combined with the portended effects and meanings of those three things in the messianic context provided them by Jesus and the expectations and hopes of the culture in general, position Jesus as the unique Son of God in a way that greatly distinguishes Him from the entities to be found and readily understood within the long son of God tradition recognized by Israel.  Though the acts were unique, the purpose remained the same, as it can be wholeheartedly agreed upon that Jesus was revealed---put forth as the Son of God in and for the world---to destroy the works of the devil. 

Jesus announced His mission in a synagogue in Nazareth by quoting from a familiar passage in Isaiah.  There, He is said to have informed His hearers that He had been “anointed to proclaim good news to the poor… to proclaim release to the captives…the regaining of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18b).  Later on, when John the Baptist would make an inquiry about Jesus and His mission, Jesus instructs John’s disciples to tell him that “The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news proclaimed to them” (Luke 7:22).  To this list can be added the casting out of demons.  Does this not sound very much like the destruction of the works of the devil? 

Jesus is set forth as one who went about engaging in workings that served the purpose of eliminating that which was marring the Creator God’s image bearers.  When He touched and when He spoke, doing so in the authoritative context of the declaration of the kingdom of God, He was revealing the Creator God to men.  He was forcing humanity to center their attention upon Himself, and in so doing, away from all else that could claim its allegiance.  This, in the most basic sense, could be understood to be that which destroyed the works of the devil.  That which was out of joint and out of place was set to rights when the men and women to whom He came were able to set their gaze upon the one that was revealing the Creator God through His person and His work.

That destruction of the devil’s works, which, big picture, had long been the delivery of death to humanity and to the world, would be accomplished in its totality by means of the crucifixion and the Resurrection.  In His crucifixion, Jesus would be visited by that which was the common fate of all of mankind.  With His Resurrection, that fate would be overcome and conquered in His person, as He would be raised to a new physical life, mysteriously and completely animated by the Spirit of the Creator God, as Jesus was present in a world that was now beginning to be altered (as was believed by those that would begin announcing the Gospel message that Jesus, the crucified and resurrected Messiah, is Lord of all) by the presence of the very power that had accomplished that Resurrection.  To this was attached the hopeful promise that as it had been done for Jesus, so too it would it be done for all those that believed in Him and claimed Him as Lord. 

The power of the Resurrection, as confirmed by His ascension, is thought to have inaugurated the kingdom of God on earth, with Jesus as its Lord and King.  Though this kingdom is now present with power, it is also still to come; and its ongoing purpose, which would be accomplished through the verbal and physical witness to Jesus’ Lordship that is made by His church, is to continue that which Jesus and the sons of God before Him had been commissioned to do---the destruction of the works of the devil.  If this is the task that has now been given to the church, then the Christ’s church, as His body---His hands and feet in the world---must now be understood, like Israel before it, as the son of God.  Much follows from this realization.  

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