Or, my increasing intolerance of the “pap and milk” gospel.
I came across the article of “Gradually, then Suddenly”—The Advent of Jesus from InterVarsity.
It had a strong start, with a brief but solid treatment of Ernest Hemingway’s words. Then it got into the Bible, and my blood pressure started to climb:
Take a moment right now to read Jesus’ genealogy at the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel. Go to a quiet space and read it aloud as deliberately and patiently as if you were reading for an audience. I’ll wait right here.
Did you do it? If so, how did you feel? Chances are that it took you a couple of solid minutes to make it through. After a few lines, you may have started to zone out as name after name flew by. It’s not a short reading process if you settle down into it. A tinge of impatience might have easily settled as you waited for the genealogy to end and the story to actually begin.
But then, suddenly, it does. Name after name may have lulled us into a trance and tested our concentration . . . then bam! Jesus appears in the story. He has arrived, and the account of his life can finally get underway.
The genealogies help us catch a glimpse of what waiting for Jesus, the long-foretold Messiah, must have felt like for the Jewish people: “gradually, then suddenly.” Bit by bit, then all at once.
Now, I believe that InterVarsity is in the soul-saving business, like the rest of Establishment Christianity. This would be useful in a newly opened pagan culture, but is infantile for a nation that should have been a Christian nation for several centuries now!
I end up spitting up and vomiting out the baby milk.
It is time for meat.
FIRST: Jesus Christ did not come primarily to “save souls”.
He Came To BUILD HIS KINGDOM.
This means Laws: Laws worthy of the name, not some arbitrary nonsense from some God-hater!
Laws. Justice. Mercy missions. Truth. Righteousness.
Fighting – and BREAKING – the power of the wicked.
His Kingdom has enemies. And these enemies are to be shattered and ground under His heel.
In time, and on earth.
We are saved to serve Him. We are to be worthy servants, that produce good fruit, that expands His Kingdom in the real world.
Not worthless servants, fit only for the flames.
And to be worthy servants, we need to get serious about obedience, about sacrifice, about the goals of our lives.
It’s NOT all about Our Salvation.
It’s about HIS Kingdom. HIS Glory.
HIS Justice. HIS Compassion.
In time, and on earth.
Right before our eyes.
…From the Seed to the Tree of Life
This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:
Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abihud,
Abihud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Elihud,
Elihud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.
Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.Matthew 1:1-17 New International Version (NIV)
SECOND: The pattern here isn’t “unimportant names, and then Jesus!“
The pattern here is “Patriarchs — ordinary time – Kings — exile time — Jesus“
Family power – little power – National power — little power – Jesus.
Patriarchal Law — no law — Kingly Law — no law — Divine Law.
(And, after Jesus ascended to heaven, the Divine Spirit needed to uphold that Divine Law!)
Also, note the women here: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, ‘Uriah’s wife’. This isn’t just some random list of women: something is going on here.
Not nothing, then something.
Not gradually, then suddenly.
Waves of increasing power… than a withdrawal… and a stronger series of waves… then a retreat…
….then the Breakthrough.