Chapter 4: Jesus’s Teaching on Salvation

Believe the Good News

  • “The story told in the Gospels places itself in the heart of the traditions of Israel.” (AK location 1975)
  • He does not tell a different story, but proclaims the truth of the old story.

The Birth Stories

  • “Luke presents John the Baptist as a prophet in the direct line of the Old Testament prophets, the guardians of Yahweh’s message of salvation.” (AK location 1988)
  • Grimsrud cites several versus of Luke that connect Jesus to the Old Testament story

Jesus’s Self-conscious Link With The Old Testament

  • He anchors his identity in Israel’s story.
  • Matthew 5:17-18
  • “Jesus did find himself in conflict with religious leaders over differing interpretations of scripture. But these conflicts must not prevent us from recognizing that in his own self-understanding, he affirms the law and the prophets.” (AK location 2092)

Jesus and Liberation

  • Jesus begins his ministry by speaking of liberation, Luke 4:16-30
  • “Jesus draws on Torah to transform how people view debt and God’s participation among the people.”
  • The elites used debt to their advantage, Jesus saw debt as an opportunity for forgiveness. “Jesus’s God was not a God who maintained debt records for the purpose of foreclosing on the poor, but a God who canceled debt and restored life.” (AK location 2119)
  • Explicit affirmation here against retribution. “Jubilee theology does not accept the logic of retribution that portrays God as demanding perfect obedience or a violent sacrifice as a necessary basis for earning God’s favor.” (AK location 2119)
    • Recall the “original” language of the Lord’s Prayer: forgive our debts; forgive our trespasses; forgive our sins

The Presence of the Kingdom

  • Grimsrud uses Mark 1 for his discussion about the Kingdom.
  • Five key points to Jesus’ proclamation:
    • 1. the kingdom of God
    • 2. that kingdom has “come near” or is “at hand”
    • 3. the call to “repent”
    • 4. the call to “believe”
    • 5. the description of the message as “good news”
  • In talking about what listeners are to do, Grimsrud says “Jesus offers no hint that repentance and belief are conditions God requires before making the kingdom present.” (AK location 2181) It is already present.
  • Contrast John the Baptist’s view of repentance with Jesus’s. Grimsrud says the difference looms large. “John basically presents repentance as an act born out of fear….In contrast, Jesus presents repentance in the context not of fear but of joy. He teaches, not, ‘turn because God is angry and will destroy.’ He teaches, rather, ‘turn because God is love.'” (AK location 2192)
  • Believe may also be translated as trust. “To ‘repent and believe’ means to turn from fear, mistrust, and alienation toward joy, trust, and healing.” (AK location 2205)
  • “Jesus’s death adds nothing to the means of salvation–God’s mercy saves, from the reprieve of Cain and the calling of Abraham in Genesis 1-12 on. Instead, Jesus’s death reveals the depth of the Powers’ rebellion and the ultimate power of God’s love. So Jesus’s death indeed profoundly heightens our understanding of salvation.” (AK location 2216)

Evidence of Jesus’s Identity

  • “Following the first programmatic statements, Jesus went to work to embody the presence of the kingdom with his words and deeds.” (AK location 2227)
  • “Jesus’s response to John’s question serves as a programmatic summary of his message. What shows most of all that he is God’s agent? Jesus answers: the ‘Coming One’ heals those who hurt and proclaims the good news of God’s love to those who need it most.” (AK location 2241)
  • Grimsrud says that Matthew 9:33 provides a hint of connection with Jesus’s death. Cites the Powers (as represented by the religious leader) as reacting to the salvation that Jesus offers.

Jesus’s Prescription for Eternal Life

  • The synoptic Gospels include only two stores of Jesus being asked directly about eternal life.
  • The parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37
    • The “expert in the law” asks Jesus an intellectual question.
    • Jesus turns the tables, asks the lawyer what he thinks. He provides the “traditional” answer, from Deuteronomy 6:5 (Love God), and Leviticus 19:18 (Love your neighbor)
    • The lawyer asks for clarity of who is our neighbor, and Jesus answers with the parable of the Good Samaritan. Samaritans were considered to be enemies of the Jews.
    • “Jesus characterizes eternal life in terms of mercy toward the one in need.” (AK location 2331)
  • Jesus encounter with the “rich young ruler” (Matt 19:16-26; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 18:18-25)
    • This time Jesus links salvation with the Commandments
    • “Jesus makes clear that two closely linked elements lie at the heart of the Commandments: (1) do not idolize wealth and (2) to be committed to God means to be committed to care for the vulnerable ones in the community.” (AK location 2343)
  • “When we consider Jesus’s two responses to direct questions about salvation, we see something unremarkable if we understand Jesus to be in continuity with the Old Testament. Jesus actually adds nothing to the Old Testament portrayal of salvation.” (AK location 2343)
  • “We do not see in these two stores any hint that Jesus thinks of salvation in terms of the logic of retribution.” (AK location 2370)

Jesus’s Portrayal of God

  • Parable of the Prodigal Son, or Parable of the Welcoming Father. Luke 15:11-32

The ‘Great Divide’

  • Matthew 25:31. Division of sheep from goats. Sheep are the ones who ministered to the needy. The goats are convicted because they disregarded “the least of these.”
  • “We become whole as we incarnate that mercy in our treatment of other vulnerable ones.” (AK location 2415)

Jesus’s Allusions To His Death

  • Jesus most directly linked his death with salvation in Mark 10:45
  • “Ancient Israelites used the term “ransom” (originally a compensation required for the release of slaves) as a metaphor for the liberation of God’s people from slavery in Egypt and from the oppression of exile. It need not imply a price paid to someone so much as simply a metaphor for bringing redemption.” (AK location 2444)
  • “He brings Exodus-like liberation from the domination of the Powers… Jesus willingly gives his life as an expression of God’s pure mercy. Only a commitment to the way of love that does not waver even in the face of the Powers’ extreme violence opens the way to true life.” (AK location 2479)

Jesus’s Soteriology

  • Soteriology: theology dealing with salvation especially as effected by Jesus Christ
  • “Jesus proclaimed a simple salvation message. Turn to God and trust in the good news of God’s love. To make this message perfectly clear, Jesus expressed the good news of God’s love in concrete ways.” (AK location 2490)
  • “Jesus’s death as part of the salvation story reveals like nothing else the hostility of the fallen Powers to the social outworking of the logic of mercy.” (AK location 2500)
  • “The basic issue here is whether the logic of mercy may actually make a difference in a world governed by retribution.”
    • Is the “good news” that God provided Jesus as the perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins OR is the “good news” that God isn’t concerned with retribution for what we may or may not have done to him but rather that our lives right now may be full?
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