OK, I confess - Here I owe everything to N.T. Wright (you can read his work for the arguments - this is simply a brief overview). I must confess that the link NTW makes between the death-resurrection of Jesus and the exile-restoration of Israel is an insight of major significance (my forthcoming commentary on Lamentations makes a big deal of it, reading Lamentations as Israel's Holy Saturday literature).
In his role as Messiah Jesus represented the whole nation of Israel in his own person. He was 'one man Israel'. In his crucifixion at the hands of pagan Rome and his resurrection at the hands of Yhwh, Jesus plays out the story of Israel’s exile and restoration. His death is a prophetic enactment of the exile of Israel and his resurrection is an embodiment of their return and restoration. Jesus embraced in his own innocent life the covenant curse incurred by his people and through his resurrection opened the way into the new age.
Many Jews had expected the Messiah to come, to defeat the pagan enemies of his people, and to inaugurate the new age of the kingdom of God. The dead would be raised, the Spirit would be poured out and the nations would come. They had not expected the Messiah to be killed by their enemies. They had not expected him to be raised from the dead ahead of the general resurrection at the last day.
The resurrection of Jesus then introduced an unexpected twist into the way in which God had planned to fulfil his covenant promises. If the Messiah was raised from the dead then the new age had already been inaugurated. In the Messiah Israel had already been restored . The time of the new covenant had arrived!
And yet clearly there was still more to come. The new age was inaugurated with the Christ’s resurrection but was not yet here in its fullness. So the restoration of Israel/kingdom of God was both ‘now’ and ‘not yet’.
- Robin Parry
- Robin Parry is the husband of but one wife (Carol) and the father of the two most beautiful girls in the universe (Hannah and Jessica). He also has a lovely cat called Monty (who has only three legs). Living in the city of Worcester, UK, he works as an Editor for Wipf and Stock — a US-based theological publisher. Robin was a Sixth Form College teacher for 11 years and has worked in publishing since 2001 (2001–2010 for Paternoster and 2010– for W&S).