A Summons to Convenantal Discipleship - page 11

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When Jesus heals the sick and handicapped, he is demonstrating his role of bringing to an end the covenantal unfaithfulness of God’s people. That is to say, when Jesus heals the sick and restores wholeness to the handicapped, he is inviting others to perceive in his gracious actions much more than simply miraculous power! Rather, he is demonstrating that it is he who will bring about a healed and transformed people, faithful to the God of the covenant. Once again, prior grace elicits and empowers covenantal faithfulness. This healing grace, which encompasses both physical and spiritual elements, is perpetually on offer to Jesus’ disciples today.

Finally, when Jesus exorcises demons from people, he is signaling the arrival of the era when Satan’s damnable work accomplished in Eden is coming to an end. Jesus’ exorcisms therefore should be interpreted within this framework, serving notice that God is already now attacking the dominion of darkness (Matt. 12:28–29), and foreshadowing the day when Satan and his forces will finally be condemned (Matt. 25:41; 13:39–43). The authority that Eve and Adam surrendered to Satan is therefore being reclaimed in Jesus’ powerful ministry, offering gracious refuge and hope to us, who continue to live in the age where Beelzebub’s destructive influence is still afoot. Graciously, Jesus has bequeathed to us this authority to continue this ministry of setting people free from spiritual bondage.

Jesus the Reigning King

As the reigning King, Jesus fulfills the pattern of the suffering and vindicated Davidic king. Arising from the agony inflicted upon him, the crucified Jesus voices his cry of despair in the words of the psalmist, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46; cf. Ps. 22:1). In so doing, Jesus invites those watching to locate his fate within the framework of David’s own experience of divine abandonment, in spite of the covenantal promises to the contrary (2 Sam. 7:8–16; cf. Psalm 89). The covenantal dissonance that David experienced therefore finds tragic repetition in Jesus’ life. Will God prove faithful to his covenant promises in spite of cruciform evidence to the contrary?

It is in this context that the resurrection of Jesus represents more than merely Jesus’ conquest over death. Rather, Jesus’ resurrection brings to culmination this unexpected kingly pattern, as he is vindicated from the ignominy of the cross and exalted to the highest throne (Ps. 110:1; Acts 2:34). Accordingly, David’s expectations of universal ramifications stemming from his vindication (Ps. 22:27–31) are climactically fulfilled in Jesus, confirming that Jesus is the one who will indeed reign forever (Luke 1:32–33; 2 Sam. 7:13, 16), wielding all authority in heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18; Dan. 7:14; Ps. 2:8).

Once again, God’s covenant grace comes to us through Jesus, as we perceive Yahweh’s faithful fulfillment of the promises he made to David. Our King has been vindicated and now sits enthroned forever! As we who are his disciples respond to this grace by proclaiming and demonstrating its reality around the world, his reign is extended further and further, anticipating its great consummation in the kingdom to come.

In each of these ways, God extends his prior, covenantal grace to us through his Son. When we live covenantally, pondering each of these ministry actions and receiving their gracious message, the Spirit takes of Jesus’ riches and makes them present with us and in us, empowering us to follow him in the all-encompassing call of discipleship. This grace enablement is the answer to the “how” question.

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