Remembering the Gospel
So much of my own faith journey is wrapped up in these readings and these questions. In high school, I attended a Christian school, and as felt too common in my faith journey at that point, I never once heard the Gospel from the principal despite sitting through countless chapels and a senior year course called, “Christian Living”. Several years after graduating, I sat down with him in his office to talk about my frustrations from my time there, telling him I had never heard the Gospel from him. His response was, “Scott, until just recently I had always been told the Gospel was my hope of heaven. Only recently have I begun to learn that the Gospel is so much more than that.” To this day, I am not sure which of the various definitions of the Gospel he would use. He didn’t talk about it enough to give any clues. During my time there, I read voraciously and remember being greatly influenced by articles Scot McKnight was writing for Relevant Magazine. After graduating, I read and listened to N. T. Wright throughout my college years and especially fell in love with How God Became King. I lead with that story to reflect how indebted I am to these writings. I am not sure where my faith would be today without them, and I probably would have walked away from it without their guidance. With that said, my view of their work is extremely biased. The modern church has given us a Jesus “ that was born, died and resurrected, but never lived” to people who are expected to be born, “get saved”, die, and never live until they “go to heaven”. We have given a truncated Jesus to truncated people. One of the problems with our understanding of the Gospel which McKnight implies is that we often reduce the Gospel to several things Jesus did. While dying and rising are certainly important aspects of Jesus’ mission, their significance arises, not from the fact they happened, but because Jesus was the one who performed them. The Gospel is the story of who Jesus is, including his death and resurrection, along with all his teachings and miracles performed during his lifetime. The four Gospels are themselves called “the Gospels” because they contain the Gospel, the story of Jesus (McKnight 80). But the story of Jesus does not live in a vacuum. It is the culmination of the story God has been telling through his people Israel in the Old Testament. Jesus is the culmination of Israel’s story as God’s people. “When we turn to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John we discover that they at least think it’s important to retell the history of Israel and to show that the story of Jesus is the story in which that long history, warts and all, reaches its God-ordained climax” (Wright 67). Jesus shows he understood his life as the culmination of Israel’s story when, on the road to Emmaus, "beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures” (Luke 24:27 NRSV). Everything God was doing with Israel was making its way to the culmination found in Jesus.
McKnight, Scott The King Jesus Gospel.
Wright, N. T. How God Became King