Jesus offers salvation
Tomorrow, many Christians will observe Good Friday as a time to reflect on Jesus as offering salvation. To have salvation is to be saved from selfishness and a sinful lifestyle that follows the dictates of the evil one.
When Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, the crowd cried 'Hosanna', which was more than a salutation of 'hail' or 'hello' or 'hi' but more a desire for salvation. The Jews were oppressed by the Roman colonisers and they wanted to have their own Davidic king. There was the hope of a military leader who would restore their glory days. The wish was for the Messiah. In fact, to this day, followers of Judaism can appreciate Jesus as a prophet but not as the Messiah because he did not restore Israel as a political kingdom. However, Christians understand Jesus' role as similar to the Suffering Servant in the book of Isaiah. In other words, it is through the suffering and death of Jesus that we experience salvation - a new perspective on life.
Jesus as the Messiah is God appearing as flesh on earth. Jesus is different from Moses, Mohammed and Mary, the mother of Jesus. He is on a different level from Barack Obama, president of the United States, and Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain. As a human, Jesus is unique.
Jesus has the same thoughts, motives and goal as the Father and the Spirit, to which no other human being can lay claim. In Matthew, Mark and Luke, God the Father talks directly to humans on earth twice, and both times he is saying the same thing, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
What does it mean when the Father states that he is pleased? It means the Father approves of Jesus' mission. Jesus not only makes God, the Father, visible but he outlines the Father's mission. Persons have witnessed manifestations of God, as when God appeared to Moses and Joshua but no one has seen the essence of God. No one has seen God. Jesus had an intimate and complete knowledge of God the father, which neither Moses nor any of the ancient prophets had possessed. Therefore, it is through Jesus that we should read, interpret and understand the Old Testament.
Jesus is the light of the Scripture and the world. It is Jesus through whom the Law and Prophets have to be interpreted. Take, for example, in Mark 7:19, "Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn't go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body."
all foods clean
(In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) Jesus declaring all foods clean means that the entire food legislation of the Old Testament ceased to be normative for Christians. Jesus in offering us salvation, the abundant life, gave commands, new interpretation, new meaning and deeper understanding. Jesus also showed us that through suffering we can gain power and authority.
What is power? Power is the ability to cause or prevent an action. It is also the ability to influence the behaviour of people. Jesus' power and authority rests in offering his life for others so that they can experience a full life and fulfil their God-given abilities. It is in following the principles and precepts of Jesus that we will experience forgiveness of sins, overcome or endure the difficulties of this life and find purpose in life. The purpose of life is to glorify God and love others as we love ourselves. May you all, readers of my articles, experience salvation.
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns