During Christmastime, we go over the all too familiar stories about Jesus’ birth. New Testament scholar Dr MIchael Wolter has an interesting interpretation of the nature of the heavenly host that appeared to the shepherds in Luke 2:13, which I covered in an earlier post.
Instead of reading it as some of the heavenly host, he reads it as all “the multitude of the heavenly host” appearing on earth to praise God for the birth of his Son. For the first time in Israel, all the angel’s around God’s heavenly throne had appeared. The birth of Jesus was unprecedented event in human history. Dr Wolter goes on to explain that the appearance of all the angels meant that “The distance that separates heaven and earth from each other [was] removed for a moment…” The boundary between heaven and earth had been lifted at the birth of Jesus but I do not think it was a temporary opening. Continue reading “When Heaven Landed on Earth”
In the interview below New Testament scholar Peter Orr discusses what it means for Jesus to be absent, why it matters and why it is actually beneficial for us. He also talks about how he is present. Continue reading “Absent and Present”
On the Feast of Passover, Jews remember when God rescued Israel from slavery in Egypt. Passover was essentially the Jewish Independence Day. Now in the time of Jesus, Israel was under the Roman Empire so they were not free. When Passover came around, it would invariably stir hope in them that God would liberate them from foreign rule just like he did in the past and as he had promised that he would do again through Israel’s prophets. There was a lot of religious and nationalistic fervour on Passover day for a new exodus, just as it was prophesied in Israel’s sacred scriptures. Therefore, the Romans were very vigilant to ensure rioting did not break out and if it did, it was emphatically quashed. They beefed up their military presence in the capital due to the event where Jews from all over the empire came to celebrate their festival of liberation.
It is quite possible the Roman authorities already had their eye on Jesus due to how he entered Jerusalem. As I explain in The Political Entry, Jesus was actually enacting a coronation procession with the crowds hailing him as the Davidic Messiah. The Messiah was the king God had promised that he would send to deliver his people from foreign domination. The timing of this act of political theatre, where he publicly presents himself in the capital as the divinely sent royal deliverer, less than a week before the festival of national liberation was no coincidence. Continue reading “The Politics of Passover”
Palm Sunday was the first and arguably the most overtly political act of Jesus of Nazareth’s short career. (Mark 11:1-10, Matthew 21:1-9, Luke 19:29-40, John 12:12-16.) Before then he was recognised as an itinerant Galilean preacher, even a prophet like John the Baptist, announcing the imminent arrival of God’s kingdom (Matthew 21:10-11.) Him riding into the Jewish capital on a donkey, a week before Passover, was actually the opening act of the political theatre that he was staging in the final week of his life. The drama was “Who is the Messiah?” that is the true king of Israel, and Jesus had come to lay that question to rest. Continue reading “The Political Entry”
If Jesus was a prophet of Jewish restoration eschatology (see Ben Meyers; Ed Sanders; N.T. Wright; Richard Horsley), then it is important to note the impact that Jesus’s restoration eschatology had upon the early church who, in the transformed post-Easter context, carried forward Jesus’s appropriation of Israel’s sacred traditions about the restoration of Israel and the inclusion of the nations in God’s saving purposes.
It is in Luke–Acts that we observe how this story of Jesus as the agent of Israel’s restoration was taken up into the preaching and praxes of the first Christians…
Continue reading “Jesus and the Early Church’s Mission”