holiness (part 4)

Creation doesn’t liberate itself. God’s revelation points to the fact that God is not distant or removed, waiting for people to live up to his demands on their own. God reaches out through his love, to draw us back into the sphere of his being. This reaching out was first communicated in the covenant with Israel, the people of God who were to take hold of his promises, being formed as his people—whole and trustworthy. This revelation continued, even in the face of the persistent rejection of God’s holiness, which is rejection of God himself. Even though rejected, God still yearned for open fellowship. And so, God sent himself directly. God so loves this world, that he sent his only son.

Jesus is fully God, and thus fully holy as well. The coming of Jesus into this world is an act of God’s love expressing his holiness to the world. God’s love draws people into his holiness, even as they wander and reject and are lost in the various sorts of corruption, into all kinds of sin.

Jesus is the expression of love of God, and indeed the very revelation of holiness. Jesus is the true human and the true God, the only man who was truly free and complete. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law, which communicated God’s holiness and the ways in which humanity could be formed. In looking at the life of Jesus we see exactly what holiness involves, and the life of Jesus was radically involved with the lives of others, always engaged with this world, in this world, for this world.

This holiness in action is evident throughout the life of Jesus.Jesus and the Leper And it doesn’t always look like what we would expect. A key illustration of this is in passages such as Matthew 8:1-4:

When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.”

He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do choose. Be made clean!”

Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Then Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

The Law was very clear about leprosy and its absolute uncleanness. Following the understanding of holy as “set apart” and the reality of God’s holiness as abhorrence of corruption, it would seem that Jesus, as God among us, would have made sure not to soil his identity with the uncleanness that was prohibited from Temple interaction.

Yet, Jesus was a man in the street, walking about, touching, talking, teaching those who came near him, without regard to their own inherent deformed identity and sin. We can certainly say Jesus acted in love towards others, but this is a love that is his holiness, an inviting holiness that does not demand people make themselves whole one their own, which is impossible, but instead reaches out, as holiness, to deliver wholeness. Jesus heals the Leper by Jean-Marie DozeLeprosy was the epitome of uncleanness, a visible corruption of the body barring a person from spiritual or social fellowship. Lepers could not participate with God, with others, in the fullness of their calling, even as they were often part of the declared people of God.

Those who knew holiness only from the Law were called to reject such people, lest the uncleanness of the corruption spread. But, Jesus’ holiness was not corrupted by the disease or uncleanness. Rather, his holiness acted in love and made clean that which was unclean. Healing is, in essence, outward focus holiness, making people whole and restoring them to fullness. Jesus did not reject the leper, as the Law did. As God present, he restored the identity of the leper so that the leper was no longer defined by his disease, but by his faith in Jesus who could and did make him clean. This overcoming of impurity is not just reflected in the healings and salvation from physical frailty, but works in every aspect of human identity and relationship.

This entry was posted in holiness, Jesus, missional, theology. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *