Next week we're going to begin looking more closely at Jesus' atoning work. What did Jesus achieve for us by his death and resurrection? What are humans to do in response to that?
We will begin looking at "Stories of the Gospel Story" from Scot McKnight's recent book, Embracing Grace: A Gospel for All of Us. I have thought about doing this for a time, but have felt unqualified. Especially when considering scholars or others who have more time to read them. But Scot does an excellent job, as a theologian, in communicating well. This doesn't make what he is communicating less profound or now easily understood. There is a certain aura of mystery as well as wonder, even over such a verse as John 3:16. To suppose we can snap our fingers and by a simple formula understand the gospel story, is to not really understand the depth and the Godness of this story. But we will attempt to look at it, as we move towards Easter.
For now, let's lay a little ground work. "'Atonement means 'at-one-ment' with God (and others)" (McKnight, p 94). Certainly there are factors and facts involved in this atonement. For one thing we are in the words of Scot, "cracked eikons". That is, we're made in God's image, but we had a great Fall (Genesis 3; Romans 5:12-21). And nothing short of Jesus and his work for us, can put us back together again.
Jesus came. The Word- the Son of God became flesh- human. He lived in complete dependence as a human on his Father God. Never sinning. Then offered himself for us unto death, as a perfect sacrifice to God. Resurrected to a new life, a new kind of life and humanity, for us. This is a Father-Son-Holy Spirit thing. God in the Son becoming like us so that we could become like him. And be made whole, in our relationship with God, with ourselves and with each other.
By grace- God's gift, through faith- our receiving of that gift, we enter into this "at-one-ment". We thus begin towards the goal that God draws us to. Living, even as Jesus lived, in this world.
God. As we approach Easter, let us have a new and renewed appreciation for what you've done for us in your Son. Let any here, who are ready, enter in, by simple faith. Knowing you are there to receive and embrace us. Welcoming us into your family of love. Amen.