Friday, April 29, 2011

"The Gospel of the Kingdom," pp. 187-8 of Wright

How many years had that Scripture (Isa. 61:1-3) been read in that synagogue? How many times would the local rabbi had encouraged the people to go on praying and trusting for the day when the one of whom it spoke would come and do those things? May he come soon, O Lord! Bring us this good news in our lifetime. Perhaps tomorrow ...

Then one Sabbath morning, the local carpenter's son shocked the whole town with the electric word, "Today!" No more waiting. What you have hoped and longed for all these years is here, in the one standing before you. The prophetic voice of the ancient text has become the living voice of the one now reading it to you. "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:21; italics added).

And the things the text spoke of were exactly the things that Jesus pointed to as evidence that the kingdom of God had indeed come. God was reigning in and through Jesus, through his words and his works: "If I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Luke 11:20). When John the Baptist wondered if perhaps he had backed the wrong messiah, Jesus pointed to the same things, this time supported by yet another text of Isaiah (Isa. 35:5-6), but adding the significant words, "and the good news is proclaimed to the poor" (Lit., "and the poor are being 'evangelized'"' Matt. 11:4-5).

And that reign of God, inaugurated by Jesus and indeed embodied in him, continues to work within human history in the ways that Jesus said it would- like seed growing, like yeast rising, like fish being caught. The kingdom of God is at work in and through the lives of those who have "entered" it, that is, in whose lives God is reigning through repentance and faith in Christ, in those who are committed to the ways of Jesus Christ by submitting to him as Lord, those who seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, in those who hunger and thirst for justice....

The gospel, then, is fundamentally good news of the reign of God.

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