In this lengthy, complex exploration of Israel’s history leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus, N.T. Wright argues that the early Christians believed that a revolution was launched on Good Friday that would forever change life on earth, the first sign of which was Jesus’ resurrection.
Too often, Wright asserts, Western Christians have reduced the events of Good Friday and Easter to a personal, individualistic narrative that states: Jesus died for me so that my sins could be forgiven, and I can go to heaven when I die. Though that statement is true, it isn’t the revolution that the early Christians had in mind. Instead, “they were talking about something bigger, something more dangerous, something altogether more explosive. The personal meaning is not left behind. But it is contained within the larger story. And it means more, not less, as a result.”
Through reviewing the themes of Passover and exile in Israel’s history, as well as considering the cross-shaped message of the Gospel writers and Paul in the book of Romans, Wright shows the larger meaning of the revolution the early Christians had in mind. They stuck to a basic belief:
Jesus had been raised from the dead; therefore, he really was Israel’s Messiah; therefore his death really was the new Passover; his death really had dealt with the sins that had caused “exile” in the first place; and this had been accomplished by Jesus sharing and bearing the full weight of evil, and doing so alone. In his suffering and death, “Sin” was condemned. The darkest of dark powers was defeated, and its captives were set free.
In other words, the new creation had been launched. The early Christians understood that they had a role to play within the new creation as they awaited the return of Jesus at his Second Coming.
Particularly interesting and practical are Wright’s two concluding chapters—“Passover People” and “The Powers and the Power of Love”—which attempt to answer the question “Where do we fit into this story?” (HarperOne)