Saturday, January 5, 2008


I have been reading "The Politics of Jesus" by John Howard Yoder (yay! my husband got me the perfect Christmas gift.) and am in the middle of the third chapter, which is about the implications of the Jubilee in Jesus' ministry. Here is a concept that really excites me, although I probably should wait until I finish the chapter to comment on it, but I wanted to get down some thoughts and questions while they are still fresh in my mind.

I thought it most interesting that in Matthew's account of the Lord's Prayer, the word used for "debts" in the petition for forgiveness specifically meant those of the material, monetary kind, while in the following verses, when Jesus requires that we forgive others if we want God to forgive us, the word is different, specifically meaning transgressions.

To the first century Jewish audience, who longed for "thy kingdom come", the two concepts were very much connected. The poor longed for the restoration of their homes and ancestral lands, which was one of the provisions in the Law for Jubilee, while on a nationalistic level, the Pharisees and zealots longed for the day when the Roman occupation would end, signaling God's forgiveness of the nation's sins that first sent them into captivity. For Jesus to proclaim these Jubileean ethics was in essence quite the same as announcing the inauguration of the long awaited kingdom. Thus the gospel is Jubilee.

Sooooooo, my questions are................

1. Exactly how was Jubilee realized in Jesus and where do we fit into this story? It wasn't just "spiritual" or even symbolic, the resurrection forbids that interpretation. The resurrection was proof, to the first century Jew, that God really had chosen Jesus to be the Messiah, the King of the new creation, the second Adam of the new humanity. As believing Gentiles we have been elected into this new humanity and are thus fellow partakers in everything Jesus accomplished. Israel's story becomes our story.

2. To what extent and in what way do the provisions for the Year of Jubilee in the Law inform our ethics toward those within and those outside of the church/kingdom and to the rest of creation? Was the Law a foreshadow of the things to come? If we are living in a greater age, how far do these ethics reach? Are we to be in perpetual Jubilee? In what ways? Forgiveness of debt? of sin? of crime? A gift economy? Cyclical rest for us and for the land? Fair economic redistribution?

3.What kind of social implications does this have for the church and how we define it as a political entity?

Well, I guess I'd better read on....

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