Saturday, March 24, 2007

Jesus Christ is the miracle of all miracles

Thinking more about the gospel--or, more so, the Gospels (I'm reading St. John's account right now)--I can't help but notice the primacy of miracles (testifying "signs" to John). What are these all about? Are they merely proof-texts of Jesus' deity, showing that as the God-man he can make satisfaction for our sins upon the Cross? Or are they part of the message itself, the Kingdom of God? Karl Barth--and I think rightly so--says that they are also foretastes of the new and radically blessed order that has become "at hand" in Jesus (Mark 1:14-15). The promises given to Israel by their covenant God are finding their fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

"When the biblical miracle stories excite serious and relevant wonderment, they intend to do this as signals of something fundamentally new, not as a violation of the natural order which is generally known and acknowledged." (Evangelical Theology: An Introduction. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963. p. 68)

"According to the biblical testimony, what happened following such statements [e.g., "Rise, take up your bed and go home" and the miracle commands of Jesus] was always a change in the ordinary course of the world and nature which threatened and oppressed man. Though these changes were isolated and temporary, they were nevertheless radically helpful and saving. What took place were promises and intimations, anticipations of a redeemed nature, of a state of freedom, of a kind of life in which there will be no more sorrow, tears, and crying, and where death as the last enemy will be no more. What is communicated under the form of these little lights is always the reflected brightness of the great light which draws near to the end of the present in the form of hope. What is at stake is the summons, "'Look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near'" (Luke 21:28). This kindling of the light of hope is what is really new; it is the really surprising element in the biblical miracle stories." (pp. 68-69)

"What is really and decisively new is the new man.

"According to the biblical witness, Jesus acted by these miraculous deeds in the midst of other men as the Lord, servant, and guarantor for them all. In these deeds he proclaimed both himself and the righteousness and judgment of God. In them he revealed his glory. He himself is the new event, the great light of hope that has already come and will come again after having shined provisionally in these little lights [presumably referring to his miracles; see previous quote]. The new event is the world's reconciliation with God, which was announced in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New Testament by Jesus Christ. The new event is the fulfilling and perfecting of the covenant between God and man. The new event is love, free grace, the unfathomable mercy with which God took up the cause of Israel, the criminal contender against God, and the cause of the whole rebellious and corrupt human race. He took up their cause by letting his Word become flesh, miserable and sinful flesh like our own. The execution of his eternal counsel took place in a concrete act within time and space, not on the lofty pinnacle of some idea that might be easily comprehensible and persuasive for man. The Word became flesh in our place and for us, to overcome, take away, and eradicate the sin that separates us from God, the sin that is also the sting of death, the old element of our old nature and world. The new event is the name of God which is hallowed in this one person, in his obedience, service, life, and death. It is the kingdom come in him, established and active in him, God's will that in him is done on earth as in heaven. The new event is the pathway of children to their father, the way opened through him to all men and traversable for them all through the power of life of the Holy Spirit.

"The new event, according to the biblical witness, is the history of Jesus Christ that concludes the history of Israel. Christ the Saviour is there! In a real and decisive sense, therefore, he is the miracle, the miracle of all miracles! Whoever takes up the subject of theology finds himself inevitably confronted with this miracle. Christ is that infinitely wondrous event which compels a person, so far as he experiences and comprehends this event, to be necessarily, profoundly, wholly, and irrevocably astonished." (pp. 70-71)

1 comment:

HALFMOM said...

"a change in the ordinary course of the world and nature which threatened and oppressed man"

but that is what all of salvation is, isn't it - a change in teh ordinary sinful course of the world that was designed to kill us and therefore wound God?