Archive for November 2019

Rescued for Relationship

We were created by the God who is love for love relationship within the triune circle of love. Within this circle of love we are to freely accept God’s authority over us in response to his free love. But sadly we live under the anti-God powers of this dark age alienated from the One who is love. Nevertheless, in sheer love the Father sent his Son into the world to rescue us for himself. Yes, Jesus coming is God’s invasion into the domain where evil enslaves us. He came to break the power of darkness delivering us from its captivity.

At the very start of Jesus’ ministry he clashed with the powers of darkness as he was tempted in the wilderness. In one of the temptations Jesus was offered all the kingdoms of this world and their splendour if he would just fall down worshipping the devil. He totally refused this offer pledging himself to worship only his Father serving him all the way to the cross.

Jesus faced another sever temptation in Gethsemane. The choice was real: his will or the Father’s will. The pull to choose his own way was truly powerful. Nevertheless, he chose his Father’s will – the way of the cross. There, in darkness, he would overthrow all the powers of darkness. The Father responded by raising Jesus from death as Son of God in power with all authority in heaven and earth. And we are raised with him sharing in his victory and free to live within the circle of triune love.

Liberating Lamb

In the gospel story we often see Jesus casting out demons to set free oppressed people. He said that he did so by the finger of God. However, through his dying and rising Jesus frees people out of their bondage to sin, death and all the powers that enslave. All these powers have wrongly claimed authority over those whom God created for himself. They have attempted to displace God by grabbing his authority for themselves. They want us to serve them rather than God. In this way they have twisted, distorted and enslaved human life. However, Jesus dying and rising brings these powers to nothing. Stripping them of their claims over us he opens up an entirely new situation. The old order is brought to an end and a new order of freedom in the Spirit arrives.

We must never lose sight of how much this triumphant liberation cost Jesus himself. During the Passover meal Jesus spoke to his friends about his blood poured out for them. For he is himself the Passover lamb whose life poured out in blood sets us free from all the powers that enslave. That same blood also seals a new covenant in which we are free to share in Jesus’ relationship with his Father in the Spirit. Now with Jesus we give joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. (Colossians 1:12-14).

Our Passover Lamb

During Passover the Jews recalled the time when their God acted dramatically breaking the power of Egypt and setting free his enslaved people. The people were liberated from the oppressive power of Egypt so that they were free for covenant relationship with their God. Later in their history the people were in bondage under Babylon rule and the Prophets spoke of a future redemption out of Babylon exile. However, the prophetic vision reached beyond the immediate rescue out of Babylonian bondage into a new covenant relationship with God in the messianic kingdom of peace and joy.

This prophetic vision was fulfilled in Jesus, the Father’s servant-son. And he chose Passover as the moment when he would accomplish the new exodus., He acted at Passover because he is God giving himself as THE Passover lamb through whom those under the oppression of alien powers are liberated into newness of life in joyful freedom. He moves to offer himself as the lamb slain to reclaim the world lost in utter distortion and foolishness under bondage to alien powers. That liberation was accomplished in his dying and rising and yet it also set in motion a battle that will end finally in the triumph of God over all God’s enemies. Ultimately it is rescue out of the power of death as the last enemy. And rescue into fullness of life in God with Jesus by the Spirit.

New and Surprising

Israel’s God was always free to act in new and surprising ways. He was always consistent with himself and yet free to act in unexpected ways. The biggest surprise of all was Jesus. He is the God of Israel moving downward as lowly servant to accomplish a new exodus for the whole world. That was so very new! God takes all by surprise!

The people of Israel would never imagine such a thing. Nevertheless, God’s Spirit enabled the early Jewish believers to read the story backwards through Jesus’ resurrection into his death and then his life as fulfilment of the Israel story. Without the Spirit the early Jewish believers would remain blind to who Jesus actually was and is. But the exalted Jesus poured out the Spirit of Truth to open blind eyes enabling them to see the truth of this new and unexpected happening in Jesus.

So it is with us. The same Spirit of Truth opens the eyes of our hearts to see the newness of God’s action in Jesus. He does so in such a way that our eyes are open to the future horizon when this same God will make all things new in the new exodus still to come. Then we, and all creation, will be liberated into the newness of life that God has planned for us. We will be fully free to enjoy “what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has imagined,  the things God has prepared for those who love him – these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit”
(1 Corinthians 2:9)