the relevance of Jesus Christ: a modest proposal (iii)

Before I go any further, I want to make a couple of things clear up front (if the third rather than the first or second post in a series really counts as ‘up front’):

  1. I do believe that Jesus is relevant to us now — what’s more, He doesn’t need to be made relevant by you or me or this series of blog posts (as if that was going to make anything relevant!).
  2. I also believe that Jesus was not only fully — and unsubstitutably — human but also fully divine, the Word incarnate, the eternal Son sharing in our flesh and blood in order to lead many children to glory.

As I’ve said I’m hesitant to say that it’s 2 that makes 1 true. I think a better place to begin may be the end.

I want to ask: How is Jesus relevant in ‘eternity future’? How is this particular man — born of a virgin, condemned under Pontius Pilate — of enduring relevance? (Because that’ll give us a clue about how He is relevant to you and me here and now.)

The arc Paul traces from one end of history to another in Philippians 2.5-11 opens a window onto this. At the end of the arc, God lifts up Jesus and gives Him ‘the name above all names’. This echoes Isaiah’s depiction of God as high and lifted up. And it may hint at why ‘every knee shall bend … and every tongue confess’ Jesus’ name: He will be the universally recognised Lord because of His identity with the God of Israel.

However, this is too quick. The passage’s logical pivot (v 9) suggests that Jesus is lifted up to this status of lordship at the end of history as a result of His obedience in identifying with humanity and humbling Himself to death on a cross. Once again there is no way around the ‘incarnate career’ — and ultimately the cross — in the way the New Testament thinks about the relevance of Jesus.

There’s more to be said about this, of course. In the next post I’ll explore the significance of the vision of the future in 1 Corinthians 15 where Jesus ‘hands back’ the Kingdom to the Father — a potential problem for the claim that He has enduring relevance…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s