Jesus Is the Man

No one ever said evolution was pretty.

There’s some excitement happening in my head these days [1].  At this writing, it’s something of a muddle, with various thoughts buzzing about in odd directions and at dangerous speeds.  Occasionally, two nestle up alongside one another comfortably.  More often, they’re crashing at alarming speeds and angles.  Switching analogies, this feels like one of those primordial-soup periods from which vast and wonderfully complex ideas emerge like a slimy and gasping lungfish.

There are a confluence of thoughts swirling in various sectors these days.  Check it:

Over at JR Daniel Kirk’s blog, there has been a fascinating string of discussions that began (roughly) with Adam, and stretched into the question of human/divine christology (or, what’s the deal with God and humans, and specifically, God and the Christ?).

Meanwhile, I just wrapped up a re-reading of NT Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God, the last 50 pages of which is a study of Jesus’ vocation as it related to what God said He would do for Israel and the world according to the Hebrew Scriptures.

What’s more, I’ve been commissioned to preach a month from now on the second person of the Trinity.

Here’s a preview of the direction I’m thinking (feedback mostly welcome).

Approaching Jesus from the title we most commonly give him as the second person of the Trinity, “Son of God,” it is curious to look at the other places that phrase or concept appears in Scripture, especially the Old Testament.  The idea first appears in Exodus, while Israel is still enslaved to Pharaoh.  Speaking through Moses, the Lord calls Israel His firstborn (Exo 4:22-23).  Hosea echoes the same sentiment (11:1).  Elsewhere, it seems the king of Israel is God’s son (2 Sam 7:14; 1 Chr 17:13), even as (and perhaps especially when) that king does the Lord’s work on the earth (Ps 2).

In the New Testament, of course, Jesus receives the title frequently enough, but Luke, in his genealogy, calls Adam the son of God (3:38).

So Adam was the original son of God with the vocation to govern and expand the garden.  We might call that a covenantal commission.  That commission gets passed down, essentially, to the nation of Israel, who was meant to represent Yahweh on the earth as a light to the nations.  Thus, Israel is God’s son.  Once Israel demands and anoints a king, that king represents the nation as a whole.  The king of Israel, then, must be a light to the nations inasmuch as he embodies the people he serves.  The king is therefore God’s son in some special way.

Enter Jesus, who fulfilled all these roles to perfection.  It was Jesus who instituted the heavenly kingdom in a great reversal of Adam’s failure.  It was Jesus who stood as a light to the world of the Creator’s purposes on the earth, who embodied God’s heart.  It was Jesus who entered Jerusalem hailed as king (“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Mt 21:9).  Jesus fulfills the commission and deserves to be called son of God.

Notice one more thing, however.  Notice that throughout, it is humans, individually or corporately, who receive the title, “son of God.”  Beginning with Adam, passed to Israel through the Sinai covenant, and handed to David’s heirs through his special covenant, sons of God are people who represent and embody the Lord on the earth (or, at least, are meant to).  The same is true – in fact, totally and completely true – of Jesus.

The implications of this lineage in our post-Resurrection world, are massive, but that lungfish hasn’t lurched ashore just yet.

[1] For those that are into these sorts of things, I’m an INTP. For all intents and purposes, virtually my whole life exists in my head.  People are great, don’t get me wrong, but give me a set of ideas to ponder and pull and prod.  Put me at a party and I’ll inevitably end up thinking about the party rather than engaging with the party.  It looks strange on the outside, but, trust me, it’s enjoyable on the inside. Back to the top.

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