Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Resurrection Defines Our Terms

The Messiah is not the Christ. Ok, technically, they are the same thing (the first a Hebrew word the second its Greek translation--'the anointed one'). But in practice, the Messiah was a nebulous Hebrew concept that had something to do with a national liberator/hero. Some strands of expection saw the Messiah as apocalyptic others as very earthly. Some saw the Messiah as a singular person (king) others as multiple roles (king and/or priest and/or prophet). Some thought he would come in the likeness of Moses, others David, still others Elijah. There was no consistent configuration of his role(s). But one thing was certain, he would be powerful. Christ, on the other hand, quickly became a title for Jesus of Nazareth. I know preachers commonly quip, 'Christ is not his last name!' But in actuality, before the ink had dried on the N.T., it was! In short, Christ is a specific designation of the Christian Church for Jesus whereas Messiah is a nebulous category of Judaism. And, as a point in fact, it was nebulous up through the first four books of the N.T. So the question at hand is this: When did the Messiah become the Christ? When did the nebulous become concrete? When did the generic become specific? And most importantly, when did the suffering servant get redifined as the conquering king? You already know the answer. It was the resurrection of Jesus that transformed this Jewish concept into a Christian doctrine. The power of the resurrection did more than revivify the corpse of Jesus. It redefined terms. In essense, the historical narrative of the resurrection of Jesus did not merely record history, it made history. I don't mean to say that it made history in the sense that was a significant happening. I mean to say that the telling of the narrative of Jesus' resurrection defined the historical terms in specific ways. True, it was perspectival recording of actual events. But was it not more? Was it not the shaping of the present and future church by the interpretation of the past through the perspective of Jesus' renewed life? This way of doing history, with the resurrection as the core, in my mind, has great potential and is the only correct path to the present and future of the Church of the risen Christ. Without the historical lense of the resurrection, none of our categories will be correctly defined, not worship, evangelism, eschatology, community, theology or ethics.


Blogger nick said...

i once taught a lesson about the ressurection. My point was that without it we have nothing. But what you had to say blows my mind and also makes me happy that i passed it on before. Next time however, I will be some questions for the mind to ponder and grow.

thanks mark, i always enjoy what you have to say

June 6, 2006 at 8:50 PM  

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