My point is … a first-century Jew, faced with the crucifixion of a would-be messiah, or even of a prophet who had led a significant following, would not normally conclude that this person was the Messiah and that the kingdom had come. He or she would normally conclude that he was not and that it had not.
Why did Christianity even begin, let alone continue, as a messianic movement, when its Messiah so obviously not only did not do what a Messiah was supposed to do but suffered a fate which ought to have showed conclusively that he could not possibly have been Israel’s anointed? Why did this group of first-century Jews, who had cherished messianic hopes and focused them on Jesus of Nazareth, not only continue to believe that he was the Messiah despite his execution, but actively announce him as such in the pagan as well as the Jewish world, cheerfully redrawing the picture of messiahship around him but refusing to abandon it? Their answer, consistently throughout the evidence we possess, was that Jesus, following his execution on a charge of being a would-be Messiah, had been raised from the dead.
– NT Wright (Christian Origins and the Resurrection of Jesus)
The last chapter in Simply Jesus examines the question – what does it mean to say that Jesus is King – and examines how Christians should seek to live in the 5th Act of human history.
The views presented here are a summary of what Wright presents in his book.
Jesus is King over Heaven & Earth
In dealing with the question what does it mean to say that Jesus is King, Wright explains that Jesus is currently King over heaven and earth. Daniel 7 has been fulfilled at the Ascension and we are not to wait for Jesus to become King, though we are to anticipate His return. I would add that Matthew 28 would add support to this idea.
Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.(Matt 28:18 NET)
But for Wright that does not mean that Jesus rules over two separate worlds or realms. Heaven and earth are two overlapping and interlocking worlds. And Jesus has launched God’s kingdom on earth.
When we look at the world we might wonder how that could possibly be true. After all the world is such a mess. But, according to Wright, we are missing a crucial piece of the puzzle when we talk about the reign of Jesus and His kingdom: Continue reading
This post is part of the series blogging through Simply Jesus.
In the last chapter the question was: Why did the Messiah have to die? In this chapter, Wright wrestles with the meaning of the Resurrection, Ascension, and Second Coming.
Wright sees all of these events as essential to God’s great restoration project in which He is ‘putting the world right‘.
The power that has tyrannized the old creation has been broke, defeated, overthrown. God’s kingdom is now launched, and launched in power and glory, on earth as in heaven.
In this chapter, Wright is challenging those Christians who look forward to going to heaven as a new place without focusing on living fully for Christ now.
To have this kind of view, Wright contends, is to miss out on what God is doing. Continue reading