I read the Gospels through the lens of the prophets. I do not see the prophets as pointing to the coming of Jesus. I see the Gospels using the prophets as a way of pointing out who Jesus was to those earliest Christian communities. I see the prophets as expanding on the purpose of the Law. People were not getting that God was about justice – not justice as we understand it today which is largely about avoiding sin and when we do sin we are punished for it. The justice we tend to practice today is largely retributive rather than restorative. This definitely reflects the Latin roots of the early church as the Hebrew roots were more about restoration – for example the idea of Jubilee.
Throughout the prophets – as harsh as they often appear – is the idea of justice with compassion. We can clearly see God’s agonizing over God’s beloved children and how they just don’t get it. The error of their ways often has to do with their disregard for the most vulnerable in society.
This is reflected in the Incarnation. Jesus continued the prophetic tradition. He was solidly rooted in the Law but based his following of the law on justice with compassion. We see echoes of the prophets in his agonizing over how people just don’t get it. I am solidly with the writer of John when he/she states that whoever has seen Jesus has seen God. Wow! What a wonderful God that is. When one looks at the Incarnation and the deep compassion that Jesus has for all that he meets – okay, maybe not always right away; the Syro-Phoenican woman being a case in point – one cannot help but understand what it means when he says that he comes to bring life and bring it abundantly.
Last Sunday, based on something David Lose said on Working Preacher.org, I preached on how we were called into the same intimate relationship with God that Jesus had. That relationship is not just based on belief but on participating. David Lose talks about the Ascension being the original Rapture and Left-Behind. Only in this case to be left behind was an honour and a privilege not a indication of imperfection. We are left behind to continue in Jesus work in the bringing in of the kingdom. Jesus tells us that we shall do even greater things than those which we see him doing. For Jesus it is not just about living our individual and corporate lives in a right manner – it is about working to bring about a change to all of creation – about restoring things to the original created state.