A number of my colleagues recommended I read What is the “Good News” of Jesus Christ?*, delivered by David Suryk at the 2016 Midwest Faculty Conference (Cedar Campus, 6/19/2016). When I had opportunity to connect with David at this summer’s Midwest Faculty Conference, I asked him not only for a copy of What is the “Good News” of Jesus Christ?, but also the permission to share the sermon with the Emerging Scholars Network via a series on the blog (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). “Thank-you!” to David for the series and Hannah for editing. To God be the glory! ~ Tom Grosh IV, Associate Director, Emerging Scholars Network
WHO IS JESUS?
The Gospel is God’s Gospel concerning his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 1:1-3). And so we now must now look at Jesus whom we are to proclaim so that we might help others come to know this Jesus and not some Western cultural distortion. I suggest that Paul had a very particular understanding of Jesus that shaped not only his life, but also his preaching and teaching. In particular, Paul’s understanding of Jesus is that he came first to the Jews, to Israel, to accomplish all the promises God had made through the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and then also to the Gentiles. That was our Romans 15 reading this morning.
If you think about it, the entire Bible is about Jews and Gentiles. God chose the Jews for the sake of the Gentiles to be the light to all peoples of the world. In Galatians 3 Paul even said this, “8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, declared the gospel beforehand (προευηγγελίσατο) to Abraham, saying, ‘All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you.’ 9 For this reason, those who believe are blessed with Abraham who believed.” And, just a few verses later, Paul said “13 Christ redeemed us [namely us Jews] from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us [us Jews]—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’— 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
According to the Apostle Paul, Jesus came first to the Jews in order to confirm all the promises he made to the Patriarchs (God does not lie; Titus 1:2) so that all the Gentiles might confess Jesus Christ as Lord (Romans 15:7-12). I suggest that this is what is going on in our Philippians 2 passage as well. Jesus came into the world as a human being and became obedient to death even death on a cross (as Israel’s representative King). Therefore, God exalted him so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
[ All of Paul’s letters were written, distributed, read and most likely redistributed to the churches throughout the Empire before the four canonical Gospels were put into written form. Luke was a close traveling companion of Paul and heard from his lips the Good News of Jesus Christ that he preached, taught and defended on his missionary journeys. Paul, as zealous Saul, knew very well the Jesus Story the Christians were telling orally—and he persecuted the followers of Jesus because of it. But at his conversion, he immediately started proclaiming that Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah—that is, Israel’s King (Acts 9:19-22). ]
I suggest that this understanding of Paul is exactly how we are supposed to read all four Gospels. I think all four Gospels should properly be called Synoptic Gospels and not just the first three with John’s Gospel being the odd man out. The word synoptic means seeing from the same point of view. I think Paul would urge us to read all four Gospels as synoptic because they have the very same crucial structure, despite the many differences in detail, and tell the very same Jesus Story.
I put together a chart on all this that you can pick up later. Here I simply want to show how all four Gospels have the same crucial structure telling the same Jesus Story. . . .
For the a continued exploration of Who is Jesus?, click here.
Texts for your prayerful consideration as you engage this series: Matthew 10:1-15; Matthew 28:16-20; Romans 15:7-13; and Philippians 2:5-11.
*Material in [ ] were omitted during preaching. Note: The picture was taken during a time of morning reflection at the 2017 Midwest Faculty Ministry Conference / Cedar Campus.