Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Concrete Kingdom!

Jesus stands out as one who performs miracles of healing and proclaims good news to the poor as he travels throughout Israel in fulfilment of Isaiah's prophecies. Implicitly we are prepared for the insight that this is how God's kingly rule of Israel in the end time operates concretely and is experienced right now, through the ministry of Jesus. Something new and different is occurring in the prophetic work of Jesus. Everyone, including the Baptists, is challenged to accept the truth that God is the ultimate agent at work in Jesus' words and actions, however much the events contradict one's preconceived ideas of what the end time would be like for Israel.[1]
The kingdom of God could not be suffering violent opposition as Jesus speaks if it had not taken on concrete, visible form in the words and deeds of Jesus. The very idea of the kingdom of God suffering from such violence is an astounding notion, foreign to the OT, the intertestamental literature, and the rest of the NT. The idea implies that what is in essence transcendent, eternal, invisible, and almighty - God's kingly rule - has somehow become immanent, temporal, visible, and vulnerable in Jesus' ministry. While the present kingdom appeared in a basically positive context in Matt 11:11b//Luke 7:28b, its context in Matt 11:12-13//Luke 16:16 is darker and more troubling.[2]

[1] Meier, A Marginal Jew II, pg. 401 [2] Meier, A Marginal Jew II, pg. 403

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