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The Commissioning of the Risen Christ: Defining Our Identity Michael Goheen Geneva Society Vancouver, B.C.

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Presentation on theme: "The Commissioning of the Risen Christ: Defining Our Identity Michael Goheen Geneva Society Vancouver, B.C."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Commissioning of the Risen Christ: Defining Our Identity Michael Goheen Geneva Society Vancouver, B.C.

2 I will build my church Jesus announces the coming of the kingdom Begins the gathering of eschatological Israel Restores them to their missional calling Trains and teaches them how to live as a contrast community Invites them to participate in his eschatological gathering Ushers them into the age to come by death and resurrection Risen Christ commissions them and defines their role in new era

3 Commissionings at end of gospels Matthew Mark [disputed ending] Luke John

4 Two possible approaches Treat each in context of particular gospels story

5 Matthews Great Commission...entire gospel is written from the standpoint of this pericope... (Otto Michel)...summary of the entire gospel of Matthew... (Günther Bornkamm)...climax of the gospel... (U. Luck)...culmination of everything said to this point... (P. Nepper- Christenson)...table of contents of the whole gospel... (G. Schille)...threads woven in fabric of Matthew draw together here... (David Bosch)

6 Lukes Great Commission Stated as more of a fact or promise Matthews entire gospel can only be read and understood from the perspective of the final pericope. The same is true of Lukes gospel. From its first verse this gospel moves toward the climax at the end. (Bosch)

7 Two possible approaches Treat each in context of particular gospels story Distill similar issues in all commissionings

8 Elements of Commissions 1.Sent to all nations of all nations (Matt ); to all nations (Luke 24.47) Nothing in Biblical story indicates that Gods people should be sent to nations

9 Prophetic Message First, the ingathering of the nations is an eschatological event... Secondly, the ingathering of the nations is not the work of Israel. Frequently it is the nations themselves who will take the initiative. In a number of significant passages it is God who gathers the nations.... Thirdly, these prophetic passages all envisage the nations coming to Israel, not Israel going to the nations. The recurring verb is come: They will come to you... (Mic. 7:12), nations shall come... (Isa. 60:3), etc. This movement from the periphery to the center has been appropriately labelled centripetal. Charles Scobie

10 Five features of eschatological pilgrimage God will reveal himself to the world (e.g., Isa. 40:5) This disclosure will be accompanied by his Word, which summons the nations to acknowledge him (e.g., Isa. 45:20-22) The nations will hear this summons and journey to Jerusalem, the mountain of the Lord (e.g., Isa. 2:3; 19:23) There the nations will see the glory of God and worship him (e.g., Isa. 66:18; Zeph. 3:9) The nations will join the people of God in a messianic banquet (Isa. 25:6-8). Joachim Jeremias

11 Role of Gods people A decisive element of the prophetic conception of the pilgrimage of the nations to Zion is that the Gentiles, fascinated by the salvation visible in Israel, are driven of their own accord to the people of God. They do not become believers as a result of missionary activity; rather, the fascination emitted by the people of God draws them close. In this connection, the prophetic texts speak mostly of the radiant light which shines forth from Jerusalem. Gerhard Lohfink

12 Elements of Commissions 1.Sent to all nations Nothing in Biblical story indicates that Gods people should be sent to nations Israel sent to periphery rather than nations journey to center Great change of direction

13 In the movement to the nations lies the distinctive turning-point, the great change of direction of the gospel, indicated and prepared for by earlier declarations of Jesus (e.g. Matt. 13:38, 22:1-14, 24:14, etc.), but now coming into effect. (Johannes Blauw) When the centrifugal dynamic of the early Christian missionary movement finally got under way, it was indeed something remarkably new in practice if not in concept. (Chris Wright)

14 Elements of Commissions 1.Sent to all nations 2.Sending of a community Not task assigned to individuals but identity given to a community

15 Recovering commissioning words for ecclesiology Often interpreted in terms of 19 th – 20 th century missions Concerned with identity of church

16 Ecclesiological Statement The Great Commission is a foundational ecclesiological statement, for it is addressed to the disciple community, not autonomous individuals. Wilbert Shenk Mt. 28:18ff. bears primarily on the life of the church itself, and not on the practice of mission. Günther Bornkamm

17 Launching of the church Jesus commission is the launching of the church. It is a movement launched into the public life of the world. It has no life except in this sending.... the church... [is] a body thrust out in to the world to draw all people to Christ. The churchs being is in that sending. Lesslie Newbigin

18 Church as contrast society The primary issue is not the private holiness [or evangelisic endeavours] of the individual Christian. The point is that an entire people give witness to Gods plan for the world.... The entire New Testament sees the church as a contrast- society which stands in contrast to the world. (Gerhard Lohfink) The people of God sent to manifest Gods presence in its midst by its life together and its relationship to others. (Richard Bauckham)

19 Mission: Centrifugal and Centripetal Centrifugal: Communities of Gods people sent to live among all peoples and nations Centripetal: Attractive life that is to draw nations into covenant with God

20 Elements of Commissions 1.Sent to all nations 2.Sending of a community 3.Eschatological Israel sent

21 Sent to continue mission of Israel Eschatological Israel sent to fulfill calling Need to read Old Testament in missional way for understanding mission of people of God today Utter neglect of Old Testament

22 Sending of gathered and renewed Israel Israels role (Gen. 12; Ex. 19) Israels failure Prophetic promise: Gather and restore Israel; Gentiles drawn to reconstituted community Israel, the people of God, becomes an eschatological concept: Yahweh will once again be Israels God, Israel will once again be Yahwehs people. (Hans Küng)

23 Sending of gathered and renewed Israel Israels role (Gen. 12; Ex. 19) Israels failure Prophetic promise: Gather and restore Israel; Gentiles drawn to reconstituted community Jesus gathering and renewal of lost sheep of Israel

24 Jesus Gathering Appointment of 12 as new, eschatological Israel: Symbolic prophetic action The Twelve are chosen out of a much larger number of disciples. They represent the twelve tribes; they are the beginning and center of growth for the renewed, eschatological Israel. All discipleship is thus aimed at Israel and at the gathering of the whole people of God. With the disciples begins the eschatological re-creation of Israel, and in the re-creation of Israel the reign of God is revealed. (Lohfink) The eleven in Galilee embody and represent the Israel of the end of time. These eleven according to Biblical arithmetic!equal twelve, for even in their incompleteness they account for the totality of Israel. (Karl Barth)

25 Through this mission the community of Jesus becomes manifest in his resurrection as the universal community. It is the eschatological Israel, the Israel which receives into its life and history the chosen ones from among the Gentiles. In fact it had never been anything else. Even during his life before death Jesus had never given it any other foundation than which now became apparent: not as a special community within Israel, and hence not as a new form of the previous Israel in history, but as the Israel of the end of time, fulfilling the destiny of the historical Israel, as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations (Is. 42:6, 49:8). (Karl Barth)

26 Sending of gathered and renewed Israel Israels role (Gen. 12; Ex. 19) Israels failure Prophetic promise: Gather and restore Israel; Gentiles drawn to reconstituted community Jesus gathering and renewal of lost sheep of Israel This community that is sent

27 Significance?... fulfilling the destiny of Israel... (Barth) Light to the nations As a community that embodies Gods creational intention (backward), eschatological purpose (forward), standing against idolatry of nations (outward)

28 Elements of Commissions 1.Sent to all nations 2.Sending of a community 3.Eschatological Israel sent 4.Gods people take new form... the renewed-Israel people, now transformed through Jesus and the Spirit into a multi-ethnic, non-geographically-based people charged with a mission to the whole world. (NT Wright)

29 New kind of people with same mission No longer embody own culture designed by Gods revelation Now part of cultures of the world Diaspora people Contextualisation issue intensifies: Embrace gifts of all cultures, stand against the idolatry of all cultures

30 Clash with surrounding society It must be said forthrightly, with pained regret, that, as Christ warned his disciples, to the end of the age there will be alienation and even hostility between the church thus understood and the surrounding society. For that surrounding society lives by other values; it has other goals, and it worships other gods. (Wolterstorff).

31 Need for Cultural Analysis Difficulty of situation of living amidst the nations: Danger of syncretism All cultures shaped by idolatrous core Need to understand culture Redemptive-tension Problem myths: Christian culture and secular/pluralistic neutrality

32 Importance of Tension The deeper the consciousness of the tension and the urge to take this yoke upon itself are felt, the healthier the Church is. The more oblivious of this tension the Church is, the more well established and at home in this world it feels, the more it is in deadly danger of being the salt that has lost its savour (Hendrik Kraemer).

33 Elements of Commissions 1.Sent to all nations 2.Sending of a community 3.Eschatological Israel sent 4.Gods people take new form 5.People sent on the basis of resurrection and gift of Spirit

34 Prerequisite before nations can be gathered From all accounts, it is clear that the resurrection as the crowning of Christs work, is the first and great presupposition and condition for the proclamation of the gospel among the nations. The second is the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Johannes Blauw)

35 Resurrection and Pentecost Resurrected/Exalted Christ: Authority over all nations (Matthew) Backdrop: Daniel 7.14 Mission is the summons of the Lordship of Christ. (Blauw) Spirit (Luke and John) Universal work of risen Christ Gives life of age to come to Gods people

36 The mission of Gods people is the actualization of the universal power imparted to the Risen One (Matthew) [and] the implementation of the energy of the Spirit emanating from the Resurrection (Luke and John). (Blauw)

37 Elements of Commissions 1.Sent to all nations 2.Sending of a community 3.Eschatological Israel sent 4.Gods people take new form 5.On basis of resurrection and gift of Spirit 6.Sent to continue the mission of Jesus

38 Sent to continue mission of Jesus On basis of sending theirmission has all the dimensions and scope of Jesus own ministry. (Lucien Legrand)

39 Reading gospels to understand our mission Enables us to know how to read the gospels! Evangelicals not sure what to do with earthly ministry of Jesus Understanding the churchs role as the resumption of Jesus own cause shows the meaning of the gospel accounts in [their] function of [teaching us about] mission. (Legrand)

40 Sent to continue mission of Jesus Explicit in John: As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. Jesus was sent to... Embody kingdom in his life Live in communion with the Father Live in power of Holy Spirit Announce kingdom with words Demonstrate kingdom with deeds Pray for coming of the kingdom Form a community to embody kingdom Teach them how to live for sake of nations Lifestyle of suffering and selfless love Minister to poor and marginalised

41 Sent to continue mission of Jesus Explicit in John: As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. Matthew: Make disciples

42 Make disciples! Sent back through Matthew asking: What is a disciple? How did Jesus make them?

43 What is a disciple? Responds to the message of the kingdom with faith and repentance disciple Centres his life on Jesus, learning to live in loving communion with him, and modelling his life on Jesus own Learns costly obedience to every word of Jesus Participates in the mission of Jesus by making the kingdom known in word and deed Learns suffering love

44 How did Jesus make disciples? Invited them to follow him Summoned them to complete commitment and obedience to himself Taught them how to live as contrast community Called them to participate in his mission Taught them to pray

45 Make more of yourselves! Make them what you yourselves are! Have them learn here, with me, where you yourselves have learned! Call them into the twelve of the eschatological Israel! Let them share in its place and task in the world! (Karl Barth) Jesus commissions his own disciples to go out and replicate themselves by creating communities of obedience among the nations. (Chris Wright)

46 Sent to continue mission of Jesus Explicit in John: As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. Matthew: Make disciples Luke: Preaching repentance for forgiveness of sins in Jesus name

47 Forgiveness in Luke Often narrowed Imprisonment metaphor: Liberation and release from bondage Wide range of meanings that gives expression to all- embracing nature of Gods reign

48 Forgiveness or liberation Term forgiveness (Gr. aphesis) includes a wide range of meanings, from the freeing of bonded slaves to the cancellation of monetary debts, eschatological liberation, and the forgiveness of sins. All shades of meaning of these terms give expression to the all-embracing nature of Gods reign... (David Bosch)

49 Forgiveness in Luke Often narrowed Imprisonment metaphor: Liberation and release from bondage Wide range of meanings that gives expression to all- embracing nature of Gods reign Closely associated with repentance and salvation

50 Repentance and salvation Repentance: Turning from idolatry to serve living God Salvation: All embracing Six dimensions: economic, social, political, physical, psychological, and spiritual (E. H. Scheffler) Salvation involves the reversal of all the evil consequences of sin, against both God and neighbour. (Bosch) If human distress takes many forms, the power of God does likewise. (Bosch)

51 Missional identity? Continue Jesus mission (John) Make disciple community just like Jesus did (Matthew) Make known an all-embracing salvation and call to repentance to know it in the way of Jesus (Luke)

52 Differences Jesus: to lost sheep of Israel; Church: to all nations New contexts

53 Creative contextualisation of Jesus mission Jesus did not leave to his disciples a detailed program of action, or a treatise that would serve to guide them later on in every circumstance, or precise rules for their future organization. He left them free to give responsible form to their mission when, after their Easter experience, they would face new circumstances, needs, and problems. (Hugo Echegaray)


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