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The Cross: The Sharp Edge of the Kingdom

Here’s is one of  N. T. Wright’s most exciting claims in his work How God Became King:

The equivalent sayings and Mark and Luke simply highlight the coming of the kingdom itself, with Mark adding “in power”:

“Some people standing here won’t experience death before they see God’s kingdom come in power.” (Mark 9:1)

“There some standing here who won’t experience death until they see God’s kingdom.” (Luke 9:27)

These parallel versus, in the intention of all three evangelists, are best read as indicating a kingdom fulfillment that day, the authors of the gospels in question, believe had already come to pass in the death and resurrection of Jesus…The best hypothesis is that all four gospel writers believed that with his crucifixion Jesus of Nazareth had indeed been enthroned, however paradoxically, as Israel’s Messiah and that, with that event, Israel’s God had established his kingdom on earth as in heaven.

They believed this, of course, because of Jesus’s resurrection…

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John’s Kingdom Theology of Love

N. T. Wright on the John’s link between kingdom, cross, and the love of God:

…[I]n the broader Johannine perspective, we discover that the only word to do justice to this kingdom and cross combination is agape, “love.” The death of Jesus is the expression of God’s love, as the famous verse of John 3:16 makes clear. For John, it is also the expression of Jesus’s own love: “He had always loved his own people in the world; now he love them right through to the end” (13:1). And, with that, John introduces the powerful and tender scene in which Jesus washes his disciples feet. In between these two, we find a “good shepherd” discourse, where the mutual love between Jesus and the father leads directly to Jesus his vocation to “lay down his life for the sheep” (10:15).

Throughout, Jesus remains God’s anointed king, crowned as such by the pagans, however ironic the crown of thorns is (John 19:1-3). As such, he is the truly human being. When Pilate says “Here’s the man! (19:5), We are surely to hear echoes of that primal Johannine moment, the Word becoming flesh as the climax of the new Genesis (1:14). But this Genesis call this new creation, is aimed at redemption; and the suffering Messiah, wearing the ironic royal robes, which acquire a second level of irony in John’s treatment, does for his people and the world what he had said all along he would do, as the shepherd giving his life for the sheep, as the seed sown in the ground to bear much fruit. The cross stands at the heart of John’s kingdom theology, the vision of the love of God revealed in the saving action in the death of his Son, the Lamb, the Messiah.

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