Saturday, February 13, 2010

Jesus' departure and mission: a second look at the end of Luke

To understand the mind of God, we have to understand the idea of blessing. The creation account portrays blessing as a basic concept in God's purposes: the first thing God does after creating man is to bless him (Gen. 1:28). The call of Abraham is portrayed as an avenue for blessing the whole world (Gen. 12:1-3). One of the fixed purposes of the Jewish priesthood is to proclaim God's blessing to the people and to be a means of blessing (Num. 6:22-27).

In the Beatitudes, the Gospel of Matthew shows Jesus proclaiming, first and foremost, the God who blesses (Matt. 5:2-12). Paul understands the mission of Jesus Christ in terms of God blessing the world through him (Eph. 1:3-14). From the first chapter of the first book of the Bible to the last chapter of the last book of the Bible, blessing is a recurring theme. We do not understand God unless we understand his purpose to bless the world, and with the world, us.

So then I am not surprised at how Luke portrays Jesus at the end of his gospel, when Jesus leaves the disciples:
When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. And while he was blessing them, he left them ..." (Luke 28:50-51)
If he left while blessing them, it leaves room to wonder whether he ever stopped.

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