Friday, August 10, 2007

The gospel: what is it? III

Jesus and the kingdom of God
For Isaiah, the gospel (good news) was that Israel's God was to be king. And of course, the one with 'beautiful feet', the messenger announcing that God was becoming king, was Jesus himself:

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come, he said. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.”

- Mark 1.14-15

Like Isaiah, the main theme of Jesus’ good news was the kingdom of God. When you hear "kingdom", don’t think place, a location, but simply the fact that God is king. God’s kingdom is his kingship, his reign, his rule. That this kingdom is "near" means God will soon be king. This was the heart of Jesus’ message. These are his first words in Mark’s account and set the trajectory of his public ministry, the focus of his work.

But how is God becoming king? Why is God’s rule now near? For Mark, the answer was at once simple and profound: God’s rule is expressed in his appointed king, the anointed one, the Messiah. It’s right there from his opening line: The beginning of the gospel about [or 'good news of'] Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Mark 1.1).

The gospel, the good news, has everything to do with Jesus and consists in the claim that he is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who represents, brings and executes God’s redeeming rule. 'Christ' is not Jesus’ surname, it is his most common title and basically means ‘king’. The Gospel of Mark records God’s kingdom, God’s rule, appearing in the life of a humble Jewish teacher. Jesus healed the sick, welcomed the outcast and the socially irrelevant, banished the dark things that shrink and poison life. This was God's rule breaking in to our world; this was how God was reclaiming his rebellious creation. By the end of Mark's account of the good news, Jesus has been crowned as king with a crown of thorns, dressed in a royal robe and lifted up with his royal title nailed above his head on the cross. Strangely, shockingly, God became king, and it looked like that!

This is the gospel: that the crucified Jesus is God’s king. But it doesn’t end there.

This rule, this kingdom, this king, doesn’t take opposition lying down. The Gospel doesn’t end with a dead king on a cross, but with an empty tomb and the promise of a living king. The enemies of God’s rule don’t get the last word. The crucified Jesus is alive again.
I've seen some odd images of Jesus, and this one is up there. Fifteen points for guessing the location of this piece and up to twenty for the link to the best/strangest/most intriguing image of Jesus.
Series so far: I; II; III; IV; V.

15 comments:

Tiger said...

Byron, great post, and thanks for your contribution at The Faithful Writer. I was greatly encouraged by the day.

Here's a link I came across earlier this year. If there are stranger images of Jesus, I haven't seen them.

http://www.jesusoftheweek.com/

It's a shame that the website's creators can spend so much time posting images of Jesus, without considering what he was on about.

Hecta said...

This is a picture drawn to remind dental assistants that Jesus is "with them always". The website has drawings of (Anglo, hippy looking) Jesus 'with' people of various vocations. I got there from the Ship of Fools website which has plenty of strange things and the intriguing and entertaining Mystery Worshipper posts.
http://members.aol.com/JesusImages/ImagesJun06/dental.jpg

Moffitt the Prophet said...

Here is a 3rd Century Vatican mosiac: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:ChristAsSol.jpg

byron smith said...

I'll award points at the end of the month before tallying up the August totals.

byron smith said...

I'll give Tiger five, Moffitt seven, and Hecta twelve points. I'm sure there are stranger images out there, so I'll hold back from giving anyone twenty. Points are still available for good links, plus fifteen for guessing the location.

h. goldsmith said...

here are a few from "the brick testament" - the bible as illustrated by photographs of legos.

jesus' baptism; the spirit driving jesus into the wilderness; jesus appears to the apostles after his resurrection.

Moffitt the Prophet said...

All Saints Cathedral, Bathurst. i saw it there yesterday, and straight away thought of you.

byron smith said...

I'm glad that when you see a weird image of Jesus you immediately think of me. Fifteen points.

byron smith said...

You may have noticed that it is not far from this

Moffitt the Prophet said...

Yes, that was the first thing I saw, and it took my mind straight to NNUTS.

Moffitt the Prophet said...

Here, is an 4th century image of Jesus from the Roman catacombs.

byron smith said...

Intriguing (and early!), so I'll give you another six points.

Anthony Douglas said...

The praying mantis Jesus. I did actually come across this one while legitimately working. Same with this 'classic'.

Anthony Douglas said...

Oh, and talk about aliens and strangers...

byron smith said...

Are you implying that seeking out honour and glory by gaining points is not legitimate work?

I've seen the third one - it's in Berlin as the centrepiece of a great space (the congregation face a semi-circle of that blue glass with your image in the centre). It feels both alien and yet quite relaxing.

I've also seen pictures of the first two before. I quite like the Jesus as Ché, though think it misses the point that Jesus was a revolutionary by being meek and called for a revolution of gentleness.

As for praying mantis Jesus, my first thought was that he is praising God from the cross, though the extended forearms do make this an odd image.

I'll give you four points for each image for a total of twelve.