This past week I had lunch with my oldest daughter. It’s not too often that we get the opportunity to do so. During our lunch together I asked her about this “Christianity” thing and what it meant to her. Now in high school, I realize that there will be competing worldview’s that she will need to perceive and navigate. Following Christ means seeing the world as He did.
Popular theologian Steven Tyler sang the following words:
There’s somethin’ wrong with the world today I don’t know what it is Something’s wrong with our eyes We’re seein’ things in a different way And God knows it ain’t his It sure ain’t no surprise
Another theologian said: ‘A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance.’ These words of Jesus have been ringing in my spirit that last number of days. Here’s why.
At the end of list of Beatitudes Jesus states that He has come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17). Jesus has come to carry them into fullness. In the OT, the Law was given to Moses in order to essentially lead the Israelites back to their Creator God. It was never meant to accomplish anything else. It was given to help them walk in His ways and worship Him correctly. The Prophets were people who continually contextualized God’s Word and spoke it to those around them. They acted as heralds proclaiming God’s truth in situations as well as championing His Mission and coming Kingdom. However, the Law and the Prophets could only accomplish so much. They were not meant to be an end unto themselves. They needed fulfillment.
One day Jesus takes His closest friends to the top of high mountain. The Bible says that ‘He was transformed in front of them’. His appearance changed. Jesus was being covered in the very Presence and Glory of God. All of a sudden Moses and Elijah are there talking with Jesus. Why those two? In my opinion this is Jesus showing us what fulfilling the Law and the Prophets looks like. Moses (Law) and Elijah (Prophets) show up in the Presence of God with Jesus who manifests the very Glory of God on His body here on earth. Jesus is not only God, but God is now establishing His Divine Presence here on earth through Him. This is what the Law and the Prophets could never do. They could not bring the Presence of God here on earth as it is in heaven; they could never be the Temple.
I will come back to this concept as we journey together throughout the year. It is a concept that we desperately need to recapture in our Western Christianity tradition. Here in the West we have been taught that Jesus came in order to forgive our sins so that we can go to heaven when we die. In other words, Jesus came and died so that humanity could get off the hook. This is not what Jesus teaches, nor is it the main thrust or lens of the NT.
In the NT you can make a strong case that ‘kingdom of God, salvation, and eternal life’ are all synonyms for the life altering reality that happens when we become a disciple of Jesus. In other words, following Jesus brings the Divine Life of God into me, so that it can grow and flow out of me. This is what I hunger and thirst for more of. This is what I desire to see manifest in those I love. This is what I long to see in my children. This is the faith of Jesus living in me. This is what it means to be His followers.