Chapter 9: Jesus Brings Salvation

Why does the resurrection matter? What would have happened if God had not resurrected Jesus? What does the resurrection have to say about salvation? What is the logic of retribution?

Is the Easter story a story of what Jesus did and/or a story of what God did?

"Jesus apparently understood early on that his conflict with the religious leaders would move beyond the 'on the ground' differences with the Pharisees. Luke tells us that he proposed to 'turn to Jerusalem' (Luke 9:51) and that as he did so his language took on a more ominous tone." (AK location 4869)

"Jesus's words and actions, given the popular support he gathered, threatened to undercut the legitimacy of the temple among the Jewish population."

  • "On a deeper level, for many Jews the temple did serve as the locus for God's presence among the people." (AK location 4881)

"The logic of retribution led the Powers of cultural exclusivism to seek to destroy Jesus (even if they were ultimately unable to do so). It, in turn, led the Powers of religious institutionalism actually to take steps to arrest Jesus, try him, and turn him over to the state for punishment. However, the Powers of political authoritarianism actually took the final step and used the state's ultimate tool of punishment to execute Jesus." (AK location 4911)

"The collaborative work of the Powers did eliminate Jesus. His counter-cultural movement that had sought a Torah-centered renewal of the way of mercy and shalom in Israel lay in ruins."

God Vindicates Jesus

  • "Jesus's followers experienced his arrest and crucifixion as a devastating blow to their hopes and beliefs." Luke 24:21 they "had hoped he was the one to redeem Israel." (AK location 4922)

  • "Though the story tells that Jesus alluded to resurrection when he discussed his likely death, it seems clear that no one actually understood him to mean his personal resurrection prior to the general resurrection at the end of time." (AK location 4935)

  • "That is, the events of Easter Sunday took everyone by surprise." (AK location 4946)

  • "To underscore that no one expected Jesus's personal resurrection at this point, we read of the women's absolute terror. Mark's gospel ends with this terror, as they flee from the empty tomb. (Mark 16:8)

  • "This was not an anticipated characteristic of the Messiah, but came as a surprise to everyone." (AK location 4960)

  • "The evidence suggests that by the time of Jesus, most Jews either believed in some form of resurrection or at least knew it as standard teaching. What surprised believers was that Jesus would have been resurrected immediately following his death, not that resurrection could happen."

  • What does this all mean?

Jesus's Resurrection Vindicates His Life

  • "First of all, and perhaps most fundamentally, when God raised Jesus from the tomb, against all expectations, God vindicated Jesus's life as fully reflective of God's will for humankind." (AK location 4974)

  • "The message of healing justice that Jesus embodied is revealed to be a message from the heart of God through his vindication and affirmation."

  • Jesus's basic strategy to bring salvation to the world included:

      1. He welcomed all people even across the boundary lines of the cultural exclusivists
      1. He reiterated the core message of Torah concerning God's mercy and human responsibility
      1. He directly challenged the Powers
      1. He simply proclaimed and demonstrated God's love
  • What would have happened to the strategy if God did not resurrect Jesus?

    • His story would not have provided much hope

    • "Jesus's life, morally exemplary as it may have been, would not likely have been seen to reflect God's will for human beings by many people." (AK location 4989)

    • "Walk this path and you too will end up abandoned." (AK location 5001)

    • Recall what happened to the followers of John the Baptist after his execution

  • "Due to God's unprecedented act of raising Jesus, the message that emerges from the story of his life is one of hope and empowerment, not defeat and despair." (AK location 5012)

  • Jesus's followers "concluded that Jesus was the Messiah because of the way the resurrection validated his life."

Jesus's Resurrection Rebukes The Powers

  • "When God raises Jesus from the dead, God not only endorses Jesus's way as God's way, but also rebukes the Powers that put Jesus to death." (AK location 5023)

  • "Jesus's resurrection makes the point that his critique of those Powers for usurping God came not from some disaffected prophet railing against the status quo. Rather, Jesus's resurrection proves that Jesus's critique reflected the will of the God of the universe." (AK location 5036)

  • "Each of these Powers, in their own way, claimed to represent God and thereby justified their demand for loyalty."

  • "So, for Jesus not to stay dead serves to rebuke those forces that killed him. They were not all-powerful; more importantly, they actively rejected God's Son." (AK location 5068)

  • "When it rebukes the Powers, Jesus's resurrection unmasks their use of the logic of retribution as antithetical to salvation. God does not operate in accord with the logic or retribution when God brings salvation to the world. Rather, the Powers operate according to this logic in trying to destroy the saving efforts of God." (AK location 5079)

  • "Jesus's resurrection makes clear that salvation is rooted in God's deep, persevering love, not God's inviolable holiness and anger that must be appeased when holiness is violated." (AK location 5092)

Jesus's Resurrection Points to His Follower's Vocation

  • "The purpose of God's gift of healing has from the time of Abraham and Sarah been to 'bless all the families of the earth. (Gen 12:3) The purpose of the exodus from Egypt was for the Hebrew people to mediate God's mercy to the world (Exod 19:6). The giving of the Commandments followed directly from God's mercy (Exod 20:2), for the purpose of guiding the people in merciful living. The very heart of the Levitical holiness code emphasizes the Hebrews' responsibility to care for each other, especially the vulnerable ones in their community, but also to love the outsiders in their midst. (Leviticus 19) (AK location 5120)

  • "the purpose of salvation is not simply to bless the recipient; the purpose is to move the blessing out into the world."

  • "the main implication is that because Jesus was raised, his followers are commissioned to go out into the world and share the good news of the presence of God's healing mercy."

    • "The Gospels say nothing along the lines of Jesus is risen, therefore you will be too." (AK location 5120)
  • "Jesus's resurrection provides his followers with a vocation. This vocation links with the content of Jesus's life and teaching; the resurrection does not redirect the content of the message." (AK location 5131)

  • Matthew 28:18-20

    • "It speaks of the main ramifications for his followers without any allusion to their own promised resurrection and eternal life (quite likely because this was already assumed by many Jews, especially those in the Pharisaic tradition; Jesus's own resurrection did not challenge that assumption)." (AK location 5143)
  • "The primary meaning of Jesus's resurrection does not lie in the personal future of individuals after we die. The message is not, 'you too can have life after death.' Rather, what the story tells the believer is that God has a plan to transform the entire creation through the vocation of God's people -- and you are to be part of this task. Jesus is raised, so now get involved in blessing all the families of the earth." (AK location 5143)

    • Is this an easy thing to sell?
  • "So the story links the resurrection inextricably with Jesus's life and teaching. Its meaning lies primarily in its reiteration that the content of Jesus's life does indeed reflect god's will for human beings and that the calling of Jesus's followers is to do as he did -- with the great likelihood of facing the same consequences.' (AK location 5155)

  • One more piece of evidence, is the account in Acts of Paul's encounter with the risen Jesus

    • "the point is not that Paul now knows he will get to go to heaven after he dies (as a Pharisee, he already believed that); the point is that now Saul/Paul himself has a new vocation." (AK location 5167)

Jesus's Resurrection Reveals the Nature of Reality

  • "The creator and sustainer of the universe is the one who brought Jesus back from the dead." (AK location 5180)

  • "When the early Christians confess Jesus as Messiah, ... they affirm that Jesus's way is God's way, the way of the cosmos."

  • "the revelation the resurrection gives makes clear that the universe (and God) have always been this way -- Jesus's resurrection simply makes this more clearer."

  • "Jesus's resurrection, then, serves as a strong statement that the logic of retribution, based as it is on an understanding of God's holiness as inflexible, does not cohere with the nature of the cosmos."

  • "The resurrection of Jesus confirms the argument in this book that the biblical portrayal of salvation provides a strong basis to reject the logic of retribution. Jesus lived and taught mercy, not retribution. When he did so, he alienated the Powers of his time to the point that they joined together in deadly retributive violence." (AK location 5204)

  • "The holiness of God that transforms the world from brokenness to wholeness does so in that it heals, not that it punishes. This is the basis for our hope for wholeness."

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By Frank McPherson, Saturday, November 30, 2013 at 7:07 PM. When in doubt, blog.