Sunday, July 12, 2009

Systematic Theology - Christology Part II

Here is the next installment:

The Work of Jesus Christ:

Understanding the fullness of Christ’s nature leads us to a discussion of his workings in human history. Often, the work of Jesus is described in threefold form based upon the offices that are attributed to him. These offices bear the labels, Prophet, Priest, and King (“Loci…,” 2007). Keeping in mind that the work of the Son is equally the work of the Triune God, let us look briefly at the acts that are most frequently attributed to our Lord.

Jesus proclaims "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news"(Mark 1:14-15). These words point to the in-breaking of God’s kingdom through Jesus Christ. It is through Christ’s proclamation of such words, as well as his healings, forgiveness, and teachings, that his prophetic office is fulfilled. Everything that Christ does and says points towards the Father who sent him and towards the fulfillment of this in-breaking at some future point. It is a foretaste of the fullness of the kingdom of God that we have in Christ’s enfleshment and presence in history. Christ’s prophetic voice presents us with a revolutionary understanding of what it means to be in relationship with God.

“Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17). Jesus is the high priest to all of humanity in that he offers sacrifice on behalf of the world for the forgiveness of sins. Christ’s actions as high priest are definitively different from those appointed to this task within the Jewish tradition in that Christ’s sacrifice was the self-sacrifice of God. He was the unblemished Lamb that was offered freely and lovingly.

Scripture also highlights the third office of Christ, in that it recognizes Christ as “the King of kings” (1 Tim. 6:13-15). This acknowledgement of Christ recognizes both the act of deliverance and the attribute of sovereignty granted to him as King. It points towards the ultimate fulfillment of salvation where heaven and earth are reordered and God is with God’s people.

While the work of Christ is perfect and complete, it has not reached the fullness of its expression. The liturgy of the Lord’s Supper calls the participants to proclaim the mystery of faith which includes the statement that “Christ will come again” (UMH, 14). This proclamation of faith recognizes the greatest work that was done in and through Jesus Christ by attesting to Christ’s death on a cross, his resurrection, and the promise that he is coming again. As such, there is testimony to the work that has already been fully complete, but has yet to reach its fullest realization. There is no need for the work to be repeated, but it is only in some future point that the fullness of this act will be understood.

More will be expressed when we get to the sections on Eschatology, but what are your thoughts regarding the way that the work of Christ's life, death and resurrection as they have been presented thus far?

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