A TEASER of What I'm Reading!
“First to the two on the road to Emmaus and then later to the rest of the disciples, Jesus made himself as Messiah the focus of the whole canon of the Hebrew Scriptures that we now call the Old Testament (Lk 24:27, 44). So we are accustomed to speaking of the christological focus or center of the Bible. For Christians the whole Bible revolves around the person of Christ.
“Jesus went on, however, beyond his messianic centering of the Old Testament Scriptures to their missional thrust as well.
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Lk 24:45-47)
Jesus’ whole sentence comes under the rubric ‘this is what is written.’ Luke does not present Jesus as quoting any specific verse from the Old Testament, but he claims that the mission of preaching repentance and forgiveness to the nations in his name is “what is written.” He seems to be saying that the whole of the Scripture (which we now know as the Old Testament) finds its focus and fulfillment both in the life and death and resurrection of Israel’s Messiah, and in the mission to all nations, which flows out from that event. Luke tells us that with these words Jesus ‘opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures,’ or, as we might put it, he was setting their hermeneutical orientation and agenda. The proper way for disciples of the crucified and risen Jesus to read their Scriptures, is messianically and missionally.” (from The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative, by Christopher JH Wright, pp. 29-30)
Proving the last sentence is the burden of Wright’s 500-page, well-documented, and beautifully organized text. A short outline of his argument goes as follows:
- I. The Bible and Mission
- 1. Searching for a Missional Hermeneutic
- 2. Shaping a Missional Hermeneutic
- II. The God of Mission – missiological implications of biblical monotheism
- 3. The Living God Makes Himself Known in Israel
- 4. The Living God Makes Himself Known in Jesus Christ
- 5. The Living God Confronts Idolatry
- III. The People of Mission – the primary agent of the mission of God
- 6. God’s Elect People: Chosen for Blessing (election and mission pt.1)
- 7. God’s Particular People: Chosen for All (election and mission pt.2)
- 8. God’s Model of Redemption: The Exodus (redemption and mission pt.1)
- 9. God’s Model of Restoration: The Jubilee (redemption and mission pt.2)
- 10. The Span of God’s Missional Covenant (covenant and mission)
- 11. The Life of God’s Missional People (ethics and mission)
- IV. The Arena of Mission
- 12. Mission and God’s Earth – missiological implications of the goodness of creation –the connections between creation care and Christian mission
- 13. Mission and God’s Image – paradox of human dignity and human depravity — the comprehensive response that gospel mission must make to comprehensive onslaught of evil
- 14. God and the Nations in Old Testament Vision
- 15. God and the Nations in New Testament Mission
As an Old Testament scholar, Dr. Wright brings a holistic Scriptural perspective to the discussion of mission — rather than patching together a couple of NT verses (hoping for extra points by finding a couple YOU haven’t thought of) into a justification for missions work, he turns the equation around. Instead of using the Bible to ‘prove’ the validity of missions, Wright believes that it is the mission of God that most accurately interprets Scripture — ALL of Scripture. This offers the important added bonus, in our time, of restoring REAL significance to the Hebrew Scriptures in current discussions of theology and praxis.
So, what do you think?
IF God’s mission to make Himself known existed BEFORE the Bible, then does it stand to reason that ALL of Scripture is about that mission?
Does anything from the paragraph above resonate with you?
Can you think of other NT statements that echo Jesus’ words above?
in HIS love,