Whether it was his intention or not, his proclamation of the kingdom of God was inevitably heard as a revolutionary manifesto; the whole Gospel tradition is full of evidence for this. People wanted to make him king (John 6:15), and Peter's confession (Mark 8:29) means nothing other than this. it was this popular perception that finally proved his undoing: the inscription on the cross proves that he was executed as one who claimed to be "king of the Jews." And indeed, it would appear that he refuses to get himself off the hook by denying the charge. Thus, we have a situation pregnant with ambiguity. The whole shape of the tradition indicates that Jesus--in contrast to other figures in Jewish history of the era, such as Ar Kochba--persistently refused to claim that he was the Messiah (cf. John 10:24). His whole message entailed a rejection of violence and nationalism implied in the popular understanding of that title. Yet his words and deeds incited in the people a vivid expectation that he might, after all, be the one who would deliver Israel.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
an ambiguous messiah -quote-
Richard B. Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament: A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1996), p.164