“This is a persistent mistake, based on the medieval notion that the point of all religion – the rule of the game, if you like – was to make sure you ended up at the right side of the stage at the end of the mystery play (that is in heaven rather than hell)” (pg. 92) That is probably true of a lot of our persistent religious mistakes – that they are based on medieval or past notions. The medieval notions would keep us focused on what we do and even more what we cannot do. That is we cannot conquer sin. No, we need a Savior to set us free.
We humans like to do things ourselves. It’s all about me! I can hear Joyce Meyer squawking across the stage “What about me? – What about me? – What about me?” Really, what about you? Why do you believe in Jesus? Why did you submit your will to Him? Were you afraid of going to hell or did you see your brokenness and truly seek Him as your only possible Savior? The Savior, who can break the chains, can set us free and can make us truly whole. “We are offered freedom: freedom to experience God’s rescue for ourselves” (pg. 92) – what an invitation!
Wright would have us see Jesus as the bridge between Heaven and earth, between human and God, between this world and God’s kingdom, between our past and our future. Look into His writing about Israel and insert yourself. (Hey, maybe this is about you!) Jesus came to show us a different way, a revolutionary way to live. The Israelites wanted a King to set them free, bring back the good old days and fulfill the prophecies. Jesus brought them the stories and healings, the message to lead them to the freedom they sought. Two thousand years later are we truly hearing the message or are we still making the same persistent mistake of looking for what we want?
Questions to ponder on and discuss:
1. Why do you think it has gone “out of fashion”, if you would, to speak about hell in our churches? Do you believe in heaven and hell?
2. Do you believe Jesus was a revolutionary? How would you describe Him if you had to write “about the Jesus of our present experience” (pg. 95)?
3. A new world is described in this chapter, what do you imagine when your read that we are to “work at bringing it to birth on earth as in heaven.”(pg. 92)?
Chapter 8 – Jesus: Rescue and Renewal
The truth … the way … here someone has written the story so succinctly.
What an interesting insight into Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophecies: “Jesus seems to have combined the two interpretations in a creative, indeed explosive, way. The Servant would be both royal and a sufferer.” (pg. 107) The Jews wanted a king, a hero, not a martyr. How sad that day at Golgotha that it was the centurion, harden to death and suffering from his many years of killing, was one of the few who really heard and considered “maybe this man was God’s Son after all.” (pg. 111) Yet, here we are two thousand years later and we do believe, but still our own terms. God calls the Israelites stiff-necked and tells Moses to talk to them, least He might destroy them (reference Exodus 33:5). Have our necks relaxed any or are we still so sure of ourselves and our own ways today? ‘I am the truth.’
Thinking in terms of how Jesus thought and studied is an interesting take. Even further is the thought that Jesus was not aware of His destiny, but that through His studies He was able “to shape his sense of what he had to do.”(pg. 108) This gives a whole new mosaic to the pattern of call. Why would a human take on such a plan? Where would any human obtain such audacity to believe they were capable of such a task? What faith is this? The modern day questions of WWJD falls so short it seems comical by comparison of this pattern for living. ‘I am the way.’
In Wright’s context he uses this insight to help us understand why the disciples and followers of Jesus believed He was divine. This becomes so much deeper when you look at the martyrs of the following centuries; dying because they knew Christ was “the unique embodiment of the one God of Israel” (pg. 117).
The thought that all our sins were carried by Christ on the hours upon the cross overwhelms me. That is every sin from Eden to Babylon, to Auschwitz, to Hiroshima, to 9/11, to beyond eternity was placed within this pure sinless mind and God looked away. In all this, Christ cried out for the pain of God’s separation only. Then, He asked for our forgiveness. How can we make sense of this? I believe it comes down to love, just as Wright says in the final two paragraphs and just as Jesus gave in His new commandment. God calls each of us to be “one of those partners in love” (pg. 119).
1. Can you see any parallels between the Israelites expectations for the Temple of Jerusalem and the modern expectations upon the Church of today?
2. Wright gives God’s plan to rescue the world from evil on page 108. Does this fit with your beliefs?
3. In his Option Three, Wright sees heaven and earth as interlocked. How does that look to you?
Journey on Sidney First!