Writing task of the day: liberation of the oppressor in light of Luke 22-23.

It’s a confrontation between God and human systems.

The cross is an expression of obedience and trust, both of Jesus and then by those who trust in this obedience for their own salvation. Whole trust in God that resists being co-opted by the systems of this world despite their claims for absolute authority and meaning.[1] As this is a pattern established by both the writings and the prophets of the Jewish Scriptures as well as in the ministry and teachings of Jesus, the Gospels are not simply passion narratives with extended introductions. What we see in the whole of the Gospels is a coherent expression of not only the solution to the crisis but also a living example of what it means to live this out in real contexts among real stories. It is the culmination of the whole narrative of Scripture thus far. The cross, then, is the end point, the fully exposed confrontation that exists throughout the ministry of Jesus, insisting on the ultimacy of God’s lordship across personal, social, and societal systems.

[1] This can be seen as a bookend to the temptation in the wilderness, where Jesus resisted the claimed benefits for the sake of sole allegiance to the Father. In the arrest and trial he faces the counterpart to the ways sin and systems work: they first offer the promise of benefits and then, if resisted, turn to threats. If a person does not give into their apparent goodness, they will be cowed by their power.

It’s always nice to risk an interpretation and find an expert there waiting for me.  After writing this, I had a peek a commentary to see if I was on track.

Joel Green, in his commentary on Luke 22 writes,

“Here resides the great irony of the conflict that weaves its way through the Third Gospel and reaches its climax in the Lukan passion narrative: Those who oppose Jesus believe themselves to be serving God, yet unwittingly serve a diabolic aim… Throughout his ministry, Jesus has been involved in a war of interpretation: Who understands and serves the divine aim, really? Who interprets and embodies the divine word, really? Because both Jerusalem authorities and Jesus see themselves as acting on behalf of the divine will, the acitions that unfold in chs. 22-23 are indeed tragic. They are, nonetheless, the fullest manifestation of the competing aims at work in the Gospel narrative, previously seen best in the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness (4:1-13).”

My path of writing this present chapter on the narrative of Scripture involves creative exploration, but I’m very happy to see I’m ultimately not original. Gives me confidence as I press on.  I’d also add that the contrast also involves Rome and the zealots, each of which are offering their own interpretation of the divine will.


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