Storied Salvation: Part XIII


When Jesus came on the scene preaching and inaugurating the kingdom of God, a conflict was presented between the forces of good and evil, of God’s kingdom and the anti-kingdom. Jesus’ message, authority, and his substantial role in salvation-history are derived from God. Mark’s emphasis on various elements of the story offered a nuanced telling of the stunning proclamation of Jesus’ authority and lordship for his audience.[1]

“The adherence to Jesus remains a precondition for eschatological salvation during the post resurrection period. . . . In the face of persecution and affliction during Jesus' absence the precondition for participation in the eschatological salvation is faithfulness to Jesus and the Gospel: whoever denies inherence to Jesus or the gospel (Mk 8:38 parentheses) forfeits salvation (Mk 8:34, 38; cf. Mk 4:16-19). . . . For Mark, salvation first of all means participation in God's eschatological reign (Mk 1:14-15; 9:47; 10:24-25), which will be brought about finally when the Son of Man returns (Mk 8:38-9:1; 13:24-27). The coming of the Son of Man is depicted as God’s final judgment and is understood as the destruction of God's enemies. Salvation therefore entails being saved from God's final judgment administered by the Son of Man (Mk 8:34-9:1; 13:24-27; 14:62).” [2]


It is Luke’s Gospel that has Simeon declaring that the salvation Jesus brings into history will be a “light of revelation for the gentiles” (2:32). This theme is realized in the mission portrayed throughout Acts. 

“Luke’s massive two-volume work can be read as claiming, among many other things, that this status ought now to belong to the Christians. They are the ones who have inherited the Jewish promises of salvation; they are the ones to whom accrues the status proper to a religion of great antiquity.” [3]

 “Luke clearly grasped the equally important Jewish belief that when Israel was redeemed the whole world would be blessed. Israel’s salvation was not to be a private affair only: it was to be for the benefit of all. The good news of the established kingdom would have to impinge on the Gentile world. Since, therefore, he believed that this good news had taken the form of the life, and particularly the death and resurrection, of one human being, and since this was a Jewish message for the Gentile world, Luke blended together two apparently incompatible genres with consummate skill. He told the story of Jesus as a Jewish story, indeed as the Jewish story, much as Josephus told the story of the fall of Jerusalem as the climax of Israel’s long and tragic history. But he told it in such a way as to say to his non-Jewish Greco-Roman audience: here, in the life of this one man, is the Jewish message of salvation that you pagans need.”[4]

“‘Salvation’ is a particularly Lukan theme whose thesis is that ‘the idea of salvation supplies the key to the theology of Luke’ but familiar in (in verb or noun) in all strands of early Christianity.”[5]

At the circumcision of John the Baptist, Zacharias prophesied concerning not only John, but regarding Luke’s greater message of God’s eschatological salvation-history:[6]

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant-- As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old-- Salvation FROM OUR ENEMIES, And FROM THE HAND OF ALL WHO HATE US; To show mercy toward our fathers, And to remember His holy covenant, The oath which He swore to Abraham our father, To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days” Luke 1:68-75. 

Notice that the wording of this prophecy is in the past tense, “visited,” “accomplished,” “raised,” but yet Jesus hadn’t even been born at this time. Speaking in the past tense of something that is assured is an idiomatic expression common throughout biblical and Hebraic literature.

[1] For example see Thomas Schmidt, “Jesus Triumphal March to Crucifixion: The Sacred Way as Roman Procession” Biblical Review (Feb. 1997), 30.
[2] Joel B. Green, “Salvation,” Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospel's, Second Ed. (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2013) 827.
[3] Wright, People of God, 376-7.
[4] Ibid., 381. (cf. Acts 17).
[5] J. D. G. Dunn, Beginning from Jerusalem, Christianity in the Making, v. 2 (Erdmans, 2008), 672.
[6] In Acts 28, verse 28 appears to equate the gentiles listening to the “salvation of God” with Paul’s preaching the Kingdom of God in verse 31.

No comments: