As Messiah, Jesus represented both God’s reign and the people over which he exercises that reign. The story of the Old Testament is the story of God covenanting with Israel to be the people that accepted and lived by his rule. As such, Israel was sometimes called the Son of God. But Israel failed to live up to its side of the contract. However, what God had not been able to do because of the unfaithfulness of his people, Jesus accomplished. He then is seen as the true Son of God. As Israel’s calling to its task might be said to have begun with the escape from Egypt, especially the crossing of the Red Sea, and the giving of the Law to them at Mt Sinai – a sort of baptism with directions for living – so Jesus’ ministry commenced with his baptism by John and his reception of the Holy Spirt or power for living. John the Baptist announced that God’s great clean-up was imminent, and he called on his fellow citizens to repent, not only for their own sin, but for the failures of Israel as well. In his close identification with the nation, indeed with all humanity, Jesus humbly submitted to this baptism. He set out on his way to being the Suffering Servant who accomplishes what other more imperialistic approaches fail to do. But then Jesus’ followers, in the months or so following his death and resurrection, had to face the question, did everyone becoming a disciple of Jesus have to become an Israeli. No, Jesus has fulfilled what Israel was commissioned to do. God shows no partiality. What Jesus accomplished is for all people everywhere.
- On what occasions is Australia represented by a single individual or by a team?
- How does our knowledge of the Old Testament influence our reading of the New Testament?
- What is the difference between the Law being a guide to living and the Spirit being our guide? Can we have one without the other?
- What does it mean to see Jesus as both the representative of the nation Israel and representative of humanity?