Monday, September 14, 2009

How Jesus Talks About the Bible (part 2)

**Read the first installment one post below this one, if you haven't yet.

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:44-49

The disciples on the Emmaus road have just had their minds blown. There is a clear purpose for this new awe-inspiring knowledge of Scripture the disciples have been given, which is in fact now a living knowledge of him who they've been walking and talking with for some time: proclamation. “I'm telling you this so you can announce it everywhere. Tell everyone. Sing it, pray it, shout it. Do dangerous things to make it known. Preach it in the synagogues and the temple. But not yet....wait.

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God. Luke 24:50-53

Luke's finale shows us the response of the newly illuminated followers of Jesus. Now I may be stretching things a bit, having no training in Greek nuance, but I'm not sure Luke isn't referring to the same redefinition of worship Jesus gives us in John 4:21: The hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. Are they “continually” in the brick-and-mortar temple, or the dwelling place God has prepared in each of them(John 14:23), having received the abiding Word, Jesus Christ? I'm inclined to think that when Jesus illuminates the logos for these two, it brings to life in them something that was merely "information" before. And this new "indwelling" provoked a state of worship, which had previously been an activity centered on the temple. He relocated worship from temple to the human spirit, made alive by his own. A brief word on "spirit": the spiritual shift that took place and caused worship was, or at least was accompanied by, a conscious shift in thinking and knowing. It was not some fuzzy, formless, esoteric thing. It was caused by information which was centered on a person.

The in-Spiriting of the logos provokes worship, and compels proclamation.

So Cleopas has had a paradigm shift concerning worship. It seems that worship is a response to the Word(Law and Prophets) in-Spirited by the Living Word(Jesus' person and work.) Cleopas saw what Jesus did in 33 AD(and prior), allowed it to interpret his cultural history(the OT) and was paradigmatically reshaped in such a way that would eventually compel him to take the News of the Event far and wide.

In other words, worship is generated by Word (not affect) and compels as its primary overflow proclamation (not emotion/experience). Worship necessarily involves a “seeing” of what happened here at this climax of history. And worship goes out, not in.

And then Luke reiterates this in his next book:

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom of Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:6-8

Twice now we have this pattern stated: wait for the Holy Spirit(you'll know when) and then proclaim. Jesus opens the Scriptures, tells them to wait for the Spirit, and then tells them to speak this Gospel to the end of the earth. Word (opened) + Spirit (sent) = proclamation of the Gospel. No doubt many other things take place on the righthand side of this equation. But the one Jesus talked about -- TWICE -- was the proclamation of the Gospel. And this will be what disciples do now that he has ascended. His work finished, theirs begun. Their work a declaration of his work.

Power. Flame. Tongues. The sound of wind. It's impressive. It lends itself to all kinds of fanciful ideas about what the Holy Spirit came for. But if we stick to the pattern, we should be able to get it straight. As they are beginning to realize, the story is about him, not them. So confirms the newly poured out Holy Spirit. As the Nazarene rabbi told them, the Spirit brings to their remembrance all that he told them. He bears witness about Jesus. Far from being some divine blank check to own all sorts of powers and miracles, a resurrection takes place. The resurrection of their spirits, in light of the News that has come to them concerning the crucified and risen one. The nature of this resurrection is spiritual-- meaning that the physical fallenness of their state does not disappear. It empowers them to do that which Jesus commanded(dwell in and proclaim the Word) without fear of death or suffering. If I may insert my personal commentary here: That is a more powerful resurrection than one that insists on improved physical or emotional circumstances, but which relaxes on the lifting up of the Gospel.

I'm going to go out on a limb here. The Spirit at Pentecost, the great moment of empowerment, was speaking words like “forgiveness of sin,” “reconciliation with God,” and maybe “fulfillment,” and “substitute.” Perhaps “wrath diverted.” No doubt many images and words concerning Resurrection, eternal life, and the new irrelevance of death. Their adoption into the family of the Father. In other words, the full impact of Jesus' death and resurrection, all the ways that it redefined life for God's people, along with the full significance of the Jesus' teachings about the Kingdom, fell into technicolor. Let me quote Graeme Goldworthy here: They "recognize[d] in Jesus Christ the goal of all things including the goal of the history of redemption."

Have you ever in a flurry finished a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle that you've been working on for weeks? The picture finally coming clear, the sense of rest and the need to just look at it. It might have been something like that. There was a completion about it- their knowledge was filled up. John the beloved suddenly knew that in this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Peter saw the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. They knew God in Jesus now. They knew themselves and their recreated condition in his death, burial, and resurrection. They saw with utmost clarity the significance of Genesis-Malachi. They understood the reason for Israel. Their mission came clear. Guilt faded away. Death lost its sting.

My friends, these are what we need to expect the Holy Spirit to do.

We ought to know by now what happens next. According to the pattern, they preach the Gospel. They've had the Word opened, the Spirit clothes them, now they proclaim the truth about “this Jesus you crucified.”

And just as Jesus did for them, being among Jews, they go straight to the Old Covenant. to be continued...

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