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

It’s probably worth recapping as I wrap up this short series.

  • I began by asking: How (and why) is Jesus Christ relevant today?
  • Instead of adopting the typical response, ‘Because He’s divine (not just human)’ — which tends to downgrade His thoroughly human history and concrete identity — I’ve chased down what the New Testament says about the enduring relevance of Jesus.
  • In particular, I examined two representative passages — Philippians 2.5-11 and 1 Corinthians 15.22-28 — where Jesus’ incarnate identification with humankind in obedience to His Father, climaxing in His death on the cross, is presented as: (a) vindicated in His resurrection, and (b) still awaiting ultimate implementation, when all will recognise Him and He ‘hands over the kingdom’ to the Father, His mission accomplished.

One final paving stone needs to be laid to complete the path from our initial refusal to set aside the particular human history of Jesus of Nazareth to the recognition of how He is relevant today.

We need to ask, How are our own particular histories related to His? How do our lives, unfolding now between the decisive achievement of God in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and its ultimate implementation, come to participate in this achievement?

Descent_of_the_Holy_Spirit_Novgorod

And the answer, I suggest, is by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The groundwork of this is the Spirit’s role in passages like Rom 1.1-4 and Acts 2 as well as Heb 9.14 and the prominence of the Messiah’s anointing by the Spirit in Luke. The Spirit is the power — or, better, the effective agent — enabling Jesus to be the Messiah and complete His mission.

On this basis, the risen and ascended Lord Jesus pours out His Spirit. For there’s more to grasping Jesus’ relevance than simply understanding that He is relevant.

Something has to happen in us — at the deepest level of our beings. And in such a way that it works itself out in the total reordering of our beliefs and affections and relationships and behaviour. This is what Jesus does by His Spirit at work in us.

This, ultimately, is how Jesus Christ is relevant to you and me today.

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