Jesus, the Restoration of Israel, and Early Christian Mission

Euangelion | 1/29/2020 | Staff
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If Jesus was a prophet of Jewish restoration eschatology (see Ben Meyers; Ed Sanders; N.T. Wright; Richard Horsley), then it is important to note the impact that Jesus’s restoration eschatology had upon the early church who, in the transformed post-Easter context, carried forward Jesus’s appropriation of Israel’s sacred traditions about the restoration of Israel and the inclusion of the nations in God’s saving purposes.

It is in Luke–Acts that we observe how this story of Jesus as the agent of Israel’s restoration was taken up into the preaching and praxes of the first Christians. The Magnificat and Benedictus touch on the themes of divine strength, Israel’s redemption and rescue from enemies, covenant mercy, forgiveness, a reversal between the poor and rich, fecundity and food, a Davidic deliverer, the establishment of an age of holiness, righteousness, and peace, and patriarchal promises fulfilled (Luke 1:46-55, 67-79). The righteous Simeon was waiting for the “consolation of Israel” and saw in the infant Jesus the long-promised “salvation” and “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel” as he was “the Lord’s Messiah” (Luke 2:25, 30, 32). Similarly, the prophetess Anna saw in the child Jesus hope for those “looking for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38). These Lucan songs, rooted in the memory and piety of the Palestinian churches, are a clear summary of Jewish hopes as one can imagine.

Lucan - Narrative - Jesus - Restoration - Program

In the Lucan narrative, Jesus himself enacts this restoration program as specifically laid out in the Nazareth manifesto which in many ways is a miniature summary of the entire plot of Luke–Acts (Luke 4:16-30). The two travelers on the road to Emmaus were lamenting Jesus’s execution, not entirely based on grave injustice and personal loss, but because “we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21)....
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