Paradox

41byctdwlrlMark picks up, here and throughout his gospel, a major theme from the ancient Hebrew scriptures: that when Israel’s God acts in fulfillment of His ancient promises, He will do so in dramatic and radically new ways. Here, to be sure, is a paradox we meet throughout the New Testament: God acts completely unexpectedly–as He always said He would. Just because the new events are able to be seen as the fulfillment of ancient prophecy (and Mark, like the other evangelists, is clear that this is the only right way to see them), that doesn’t mean that one can see a smooth, easy line from the ancient texts to the modern fulfillment. On the contrary, what is being fulfilled is precisely the promise of drastic, unexpected, and perhaps even unwelcome judgment and mercy.

But our proper emphasis on this radical, new breaking in of God’s action in Jesus ought not to diminish the sense that, in Mark, this new thing that God is doing is the new thing He had always promised.

— N.T. Wright, How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels, 75.

Storytelling

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What I miss, right across the Western tradition, at least the way it has come through to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, is the devastating and challenging message I find in the four gospels: God really has become king–in and through Jesus! A new state of affairs has been brought into existence. A door has been opened that nobody can shut. Jesus is now the world’s rightful Lord, and all other lords are to fall at His feet. This is an eschatological message, not in the trivial sense that it heralds ‘the end of the world’ (whatever that might mean), but in the sense that it is about something that was supposed to happen when Israel’s hopes were fulfilled; and Israel’s hopes were not for the demise of the space-time universe, but for the earth to be full of God’s glory. It is, however, an inaugurated eschatological message, claiming that this ‘something’ has indeed happened in and through Jesus and does not yet look like what people might have imagined. That is the story the gospels are telling.

— N.T. Wright, How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels, 37.

Look Forward

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Jesus was bringing into being the reality for which the Temple had been one of the great advance signposts: God’s sovereign and saving presence in the midst of His people. This was a time for looking forwards to the great things God was beginning to do, not backwards to the times when Israel had been punished for her failures and infidelities.

— N. T. Wright, Mark for Everyone, 25.

When the Living God Looks at Us

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The whole Christian gospel could be summed up in this point: that when the living God looks at us, at every baptized and believing Christian, He says to us what He said to Jesus on that day [of His baptism]. He sees us, not as we are in ourselves, but as we are in Jesus Christ. It sometimes seems impossible, especially to people who have never had this kind of support from their earthly parents, but it’s true: God looks at us, and says, ‘You are my dear, dear child; I’m delighted in you.’ Try reading that sentence slowly, with your own name at the start, and reflect quietly on God saying that to you, both at your baptism and every day since.

— N.T. Wright, Mark for Everyone, 4.