Jesus-the Kingdom Bringer
Jesus was baptized and the dove descended upon him and the voice from heaven spoke to him. Basically, John the Baptist pushed Jesus beneath the surface of the water as a man and pulled him up for air as the Messiah. So what happened while Jesus was holding his breath beneath that grimy river water? Well, for one thing, I do not think there was a cosmic shift in identity. But it was a moment that forever changed Jesus' perceptions of himself. From that point on, he started to get and apply his mission--to die so that the kingdom could begin. Or was HE, himself the kingdom?
I tend to believe the latter, but I do not see evidence that Jesus saw himself as a manifestation of the kingdom, but only the kingdom bringer. Perhaps Jesus saw how askew the Isrealites were in their relationship with God, so he decided to go to the cross so that things could be made right (read: perfect) in order for God to begin the work of the new Kingdom, the new community with the people. But when Jesus was hanging there, on that dreaded cross, not understanding that he was the kingdom and it had already come via him, he thought himself forsaken. He thought his mission had failed. Having no other words to cry, he petitioned his Father, "my God, my God, why have your forsaken me?" Even Jesus did not know that the final word was still in the wings, waiting to be spoken. Could this be? Could our Messiah have been so clueless? Why not?
Tyler and I watched a documentary on Deitrich Bonhoeffer last night. Convinced that Hitler was pure evil, he conspired with others to plot his assassination. Several attempts were made, each of them failed for a plurality of reasons. Eventually discovered, imprisoned, and hanged, Bonhoeffer lived most of his mission wondering if he and the conspiracy were following God's intent. Throughout the decade that Hitler ruled, Bonhoeffer believed in a God that offered no guiding light from heaven that pointed him into the way of truthful living. There was never a dove or a voice from heaven saying, "in you I am well pleased." Instead, he was forced to live out his belief in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount to the core-and this involved ambiguity and mystery, yet a certainty that Hitler was outside the kingdom agenda. Bonhoeffer was convinced that his commitment to Jesus involved nothing less than a willingness to die for the cause of the kingdom, just as Jesus viewed his commitment to God and bringing the kingdom as one that led to death. Must we all die so that the kingdom can live? What the hell does this mean?