Thoughts

Relearning the story of Jesus from the ground up

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Relearning the story of Jesus from the ground up

By
Jeff K. Clarke
Senior Editor and Staff Writer
|
December 4, 2016

Sometimes, in order to learn about something, we have to (un)learn some or all of the things we thought we knew about that something along the way.

In our pursuit of Jesus, sometimes we have to (un)learn what we thought we knew about Jesus, in order to (re)learn about the real Jesus that lay behind our presuppositions, prejudices, and preconceived ideas.

Allow me to illustrate.

For many of us, our understanding of the Jesus story looks something like this.

_________

I am a sinner.
Jesus died for my sins.
I need to ask Jesus into my heart and He will forgive my sins.

I need to avoid being contaminated by the world by secluding myself from it, while often criticizing everything within it. The earth is bad.
The earth will one day be destroyed, so caring for it is a waste if time.

I will go to heaven when I die.

I will not go to hell.

I will live in the clouds with Jesus and sing all day long, while everyone else will burn forever in eternal conscious torment.

_________

For many people, this is what the Jesus story is all about – the only reason why Jesus came.

My Sin.
My Savior.
My Salvation.
My Seclusion.
My Death.
My Heaven.

As a result, the way we read and understand the Jesus story requires revision.

Not the actual story of Jesus as we read it in the Gospel accounts, but our interpretation, understanding, and application of the story.

This is what the Jesus story really looks like.

________

God is love.

By and for love, God created all things, including human beings.
Human beings are image bearers – created in the image of God.

God desired that people would love Him freely in return. This required freedom. Love always requires freedom.

Genuine human freedom created risk – human beings could choose to serve or not to serve God.
Some chose not to serve.

Sin – living without God – came to be.

God set a plan in motion to turn the whole thing around – from the ground up.
God chose to work through Israel and its people to bring about a restoration plan for the entire creation.

Israel’s story pointed towards a promised Messiah who would inaugurate God’s kingdom dream.
Israel’s story found its fulfillment and culmination in Jesus, God’s Messiah-King.

Jesus demonstrated, in both word and deed, that the long-awaited kingdom had come in Him – in part.

But, the King and His kingdom didn’t meet our expectations.
His kingdom was open to everyone.
The poor, lonely, oppressed, and ostracized were welcomed in. This was something new.
King Jesus showed us what God was like and what we as humans could be like.

Our image was being restored.

God’s kingdom came not in power, but weakness.
God’s kingdom came not through violence, but peace.
God’s kingdom came not through victory over enemies, but through the death of the King for His enemies.
Enemy-love dominated Jesus’s kingdom. The cross was God’s love on display.

King Jesus died.

King Jesus descended – for now.

King Jesus rose again!

He appeared to many.

King Jesus ascended – for now.

Our image was being restored.

The new creation has begun.
New creation for the whole creation.
God’s kingdom had come – God’s kingdom was coming.

The Church was born – filling up with Jesus-followers.
The Holy Spirit was given to these followers to enable them to bear witness to the King and His kingdom.
The Holy Spirit demonstrated that the kingdom had come in word and deed – through them.
Signs of the kingdom were everywhere – the cosmic restoration plan was alive and well.

Our image was being restored.

People began to embrace the King and His kingdom.
Kingdom people were beginning to crop up everywhere – even amongst the Gentiles.
God’s kingdom was expanding.
The Spirit of King Jesus was moving.
Kingdom people were everywhere.
Signs of the kingdom were everywhere.

Our image was being restored.

The promised renewed creation is already bursting at the seams.
The promise is being seen even now in these kingdom people.
The Spirit of the King is moving – pointing people to the King and the promise of a renewed Kingdom world – God’s good world.

We wait. We work. We wait.

The King will one day return to judge both the living and the dead.
The King will put the world to rights. Love, justice and peace will reign in His kingdom.

The King has returned!

The renewed heavens and earth are here – to stay.
The Enemy is destroyed – forever.

Love has won!

Our image is restored!

Long live the King!

_________

This is the story of Jesus the Messiah-King.

This is the gospel.

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