Signs of a Delusional Mind
These are the chronicles of the esoteric . . .
good friday/easter reflections on context, part 3
He is risen!
And really that's the reason any of this matters.
Multiple attempts around the time of Jesus were made to claim the messianic throne—Josephus, the Jewish historian, counted five major messianic movements between 40BCE and 73CE. The Jewish climate at the time of Jesus' birth was one of political and social turmoil.
But with each Jewish movement and their self-proclaimed messiah, the heavy hand of Rome fell. And with each defeat of the insurgent groups there remained scattered and dejected followers—and silence.
The Jesus Movement did not stop after their leader was crucified like a criminal insurrectionist. No, instead the movement did the opposite of disperse and melt away into the greater Jewish body—instead, shortly after the death of its leader the movement began to grow.
But I don't want to get into the apologetics of it. I want to briefly discuss what this means theologically.
Previously, we've touched on the idea that, read in its Jewish context, Jesus' death was for the redemption of Israel—Jesus died suffering the consequences for his people's transgressions and disobedience.
This is not a novel theology. Interestingly, one of the Jewish revolts that Rome shut down was described by its survivors as atoning for Israel—the death of the pious Jews who fell at the hands of Rome 'preserved Israel.'1
But the difference between their atonement and Jesus' is that Jesus did something more and something remarkable: he didn't stay dead.
Jesus' resurrection changes everything.
According to the gospels and Paul, because Jesus was faithful to the way of God throughout his life and by his redemptive death, he was raised from the dead as vindication—his resurrection was a signal that Jesus fulfilled his mission and therefore that God was giving him all authority to judge and rule over the world.
Indeed, the resurrection was confirmation that Jesus had triumphed over the powers of the world.
It was confirmation that Jesus was and is king.
Throughout his ministry Jesus frequently referred to himself as the Son of Man—a clear callback to the book of Daniel.
Amidst the persecution and turmoil in Daniel's visions, 'one like the son of man' is presented to the Ancient of Days and is handed all dominion, glory, and kingdom so that all peoples serve him.2 Jesus quoted this passage to the high priest who questioned him about his identity prior to his crucifixion3—so we know that Jesus is doing something very theologically deliberate with this self-identification.
This reapplication is twofold:
In the context of Daniel's vision, the son of man represents the 'saints of the Most High'—that is, the faithful Israelites. So Jesus sees himself as representative of the Jews who remain faithful to the covenant4 but who are persecuted by not only the Gentile rulers but also by unfaithful Israel.
Jesus sees himself as the one who will be exalted and given all power and authority over the earth. His followers of course would agree, as detailed in Philippians 2:9-11.
Jesus then is king. Indeed, the first creed of the early church was simply, 'Jesus is Lord.' And truly this may be the only creedal confession that matters—it certainly was for Paul and the other apostles.
The Resurrected One is the Vindicated One, Redeemer of Israel. And because Israel has been redeemed, their King is exalted above all the nations of the earth as the One True King.
Remember that Jesus' death and resurrection, read through the Passover paradigm, is about liberation and about the creation of a new community. That community is the Kingdom of God. The coming of the son of man on the clouds was the symbollic beginning of that Kingdom.5
Where before membership into the People of God was through circumcision and being bound by Torah, now membership is the confession that the Risen Jesus is Lord—a confession that must be understood to mean belief in what God has done for Israel through Jesus.
Jesus' blood then is the sign upon our doorposts that profess this trust in and loyalty to God. ✤
1. 4 Maccabees 17:22.
2. Daniel 7:14.
3. Mark 14:62, and parallels.
4. Andrew Perriman, 'Son of Man: title, self-reference, or narrative?,' P.OST.
5. Andrew Perriman, 'What did it mean to “see” the coming of the Son of Man in clouds?,' P.OST.