Reflections for the Week of July 29, 2018 Tenth after Pentecost

Gospel: Jn 6. 1-12 tells of the miraculous feeding of a large multitude and then of Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus did many great miracles, two of which are part of this text––the feeding of the multitude with just five barley loaves and two small fish,  and walking on water. They, of course, point to Jesus’ divinity but is that their deepest significance? N.T. Wright thinks that all of Jesus’ acts pointed to the coming of the kingdom of God in the sense of a new creation. God called Abraham in Genesis 12ff. to deal with the effects of Adam’s fall which led to a profound distortion of God’s good creation. Following Adam’s disobedience God cursed Adam and Eve, the serpent,  and the earth itself (Gen 3).

God then called Abraham as the beginning of the correction of the effects of the fall which were to be overcome by Abrahams’s descendants, the nation of Israel. They were to be the light of the world to show mankind the way out of the darkness of sin and death into which they had fallen. But the people of Israel were fallen people themselves who were unable or unwilling to carry out God’s redeeming purposes for the world. The Old Testament is the long, sad story of Israel. The law was given to Moses at Mt. Sinai, but while it defined and condemned sin, it could not give life to the fallen people. God’s plan finally came to fruition in Jesus of Nazareth who was Israel’s representative who was recognized as the Messiah. The Messiah refers to an anointed one who fulfilled the anointed offices of prophet, priest, and king. The Messiah was not originally conceived of as divine, but he would come from David’s royal line to fight Israel’s battles (as David had done against Goliath), restore the Temple, fulfill the role of King of Israel and the world and bring Israel’s history to a climax as her representative. This is what Jesus did as He fulfilled God’s promises to Israel and through Israel to the world. Jesus revised the law (Mt 5-7) of Moses in the Sermon on the Mount. He pronounced the Temple to be corrupt and in His healings on the Sabbath, His teachings, and His opposition to idolatry and insistence on true worship, He pointed the way to the New Creation that was coming. The age to come would overcome the curses pronounced on human beings and the creation as a whole in Gen 3 (Rm 8.18- 27). The kingdom to come where God’s will would be done as it is in heaven would be the result of the defeat of the satan on the cross and the coronation of the King, the overcoming of sin and death,  the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the new Temple to be found where God and man are united, in the Messiah first, and then in His follows who believe in Him. Jesus came as God Himself to proclaim this good news and to defeat the satan on the cross and to bring in the kingdom. His followers are to continue the implementation of the kingdom by the power of the Spirit by which they receive resurrection bodies.

Memory Verse: From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mt 4. 17).

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