I want to tackle one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of my affirmation that the particular, historical person Jesus has contemporary relevance as a result of His relevance into ‘eternity future’ — what 1 Corinthians 15 says about the end of history:
22[A]s all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. 23But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet … 28When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.
Does this mean that Jesus — the Second Adam, the Messiah — abdicates when He gets to the end of history and ‘hands over the kingdom to God the Father’?
I don’t think that’s quite it. What we get a glimpse of here is not the termination of Jesus’ rule — and relevance — but its perfection.
Trying to bring this picture into focus, my hunch is that it’s about the universal implementation of the victory Jesus won in His resurrection. And that the final outcome of history doesn’t involve a departure from the pattern of Jesus’ obedient life but its consummation.
Thus, it results in the final manifestation of God’s Fatherhood ‘on earth as it is in heaven’. And the eclipse of the ignorance and indifference that meets Jesus throughout His ministry — then as now. And the completion of Spirit’s work of liberating creation to be itself, glorifying the Father through the Son.
Such is the enduring relevance of Jesus. All that remains is to tease out the implications for us here and now. And for that we’ll need to say something more explicit about the work of the Spirit in bringing our particular human histories into intimate connection with His…