In my latest posts I have dealt with the issue of Biblical hermeneutics and I have concluded that as Christians we must consider Christ himself to be the key with which we can unlock the true Christian message. However, this doesn’t solve all problems since people throughout church history has regarded it as appropriate to twist and turn the Biblical accounts of Christ to mean basically whatever they deemed profitable for their own purposes. Hence, I regard it as necessary to say something about the life and message of Christ that I believe gives our hermeneutics even more precision.
The Jewish Messiah was expected to be a liberator who would defeat the powers of occupation and take over the throne of Israel. This is what James and John, the sons of Zebedee, had in mind when they came to Jesus and asked: Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory. However, Jesus answered them: You don’t know what you are asking . . . Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with? James and John answered Yes, but Jesus responded: You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared. The narrative continues by Jesus telling all his disciples that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you, Jesus says, instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10.37-45)
This story highlights the point that I want to put forth in this post: Jesus kingdom is of another kind than what was expected. However, this message seems to have been lost by many since history shows that the church all too often has used power, force and coercion to lord over people rather than to serve them in humble submission. I am convinced that if we have any intentions of actually following Christ, then his life must constitute the pattern that we desire to live by. What this mean is that his willingness to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many should be understood as a model for our lives, both individually and communally. This is the centre of the message about Jesus and it reveals a king that is different from the rulers of the world; a king whose crown is made out of thorns and who calls his followers to serve the poor, forgive their debtors and love their enemies. Hence, if we want to receive the message revealed in Scripture because we desire for it to shape our lives, then I believe that the message of Christ’s crucifixion must be regarded as the centre by which everything else is understood.